Profile: Bollywood Needs a Makeover! – By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

Entertainment Profile: Bollywood Needs a Makeover!

– By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

Mahipal 1919-2005

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to clean up India. He will do well to start with Bollywood. Over the past thirty years the Indian film industry has spread its influence to nearly every part of India, and even abroad, where its mindless and garish depictions have assaulted the intelligence in many living rooms. But this was not always the case.

One of the first superstars in the Indian cinema was Mahipal. He starred in over 100 movies his last movie ‘Jai Santoshi Ma’ (1975) has set records in the industry. In those days Bollywood idealized womanhood and the family and the epics left messages of the enduring values of love and devotion.

READ MORE: Bollywood Needs a Makeover! – By Dr. Dhanpaul Narin


Best of Mahipal | Most Popular Old Hindi Songs | Teri Duniya Se Door

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On August 16, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Dr. Narine: You touched a nerve, a pet peeve, I thought I was the only one so disgusted with Bollywood. I have written in the past in Ind0Caribbean World about the said deterioration of Indian movies; and the effect on young Indian minds; and the projection of India in the world. Bollywood movies are seen throughout SE Asia, China, Mideast and Russia, et al.
    I will have more to say on this degradation later. For the time I will lay the blame on $$$ and an influential movement in India called Secularism aka, liberalism that has its roots in colonial policy. These secularist, I associate with “Macaulay’s Children” and Indian Marxists..

    Veda NM.

  • Ron Saywack  On August 16, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    M.K. Raghavendra wrote:

    “But as Hindi cinema became identifiable entirely as Bollywood after 2000, it has become less of a national cinema and more of a global brand.”

    Film scholars acknowledge that after 1947, mainstream Hindi cinema in India played the part of a “national cinema”, albeit without official support from the state.

    Even in the 1990s, most Hindi-language films produced in Mumbai were focused on family values, which became a covert way of addressing national issues.

    Hindi cinema uses family stories as national allegories by using available symbols. For example, the mother representing the sacred nation, the policeman or the judge and the state authority, the club dancer as bad modernity and the doctor as good modernity.

    Major historical events after independence find themselves reflected in Hindi film narrative, but the first important one – the disaster of the Sino-Indian War of 1962 – appears as a silence, a kind of obliteration of earlier optimism.

    Another big change in film motifs after 1947 happened with India abandoning Nehru’s socialism as a political model and embracing the market economy in 1991. After this date, the state began to withdraw.

    This occurred under PV Narasimha Rao, prime minister from 1991 to 1996, and Hindi cinema began to deal with the lives of rich people, beginning with Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994).

    The state is absent in the narrative of this film and the nation is portrayed in this film as a happy family.

    The moral thrust of Hindi cinema in the 1990s still rested on the old notion of loyalty – to one’s family, to one’s community or to a relationship – and this is tested when relationships are thrown into crisis. The relationship is important because it symbolizes the one that binds the characters to the nation. In Lagaan (2001), for instance, the loyalty is to the village community as represented by its cricket team, which has to play a match against a colonial team.

    It was only in the new millennium that globalization made its impact in India’s cities, when the English language created a prosperous class with much greater spending power, as wages began to be tuned to global standards.

    Secondly, this newly anglophone class felt closer to the West than it did to rural India.

    In the initial phases, globalization was regarded with alarm by Hindi cinema and an example was the genre dealing with adultery, beginning with Jism (2003), in which marital unfaithfulness happens because of the global influence.

    By 1994, however, new aspects begin to appear and the first of these is that Hindi cinema seems to be meant for those who understand English.

    The titles and legends appear only in English and characters break into English, usually to use swear words. There is also a splintering of Hindi cinema with some films doing well in multiplexes in the metropolitan cities and others doing well largely in the semi-urban areas.

    As motifs in cinema, the parent is now reconstituted as an obstruction to the aspirations of youth – perhaps first hinted at by Rang De Basanti (2006). This film does not have personal advancement as a motif but the parent-as-obstruction-to-aspiration is a theme in films like Bunty Aur Babli (2005), Guru (2007) and 3 Idiots (2009). The rise of the new economy marks the moment at which children abandoned traditional vocations and followed new paths.

    The Congress party lost power in 1999 to the BJP, and films like Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001) and Veer-Zara (2004) portray Pakistan as an undemocratic political entity. Another key theme in the new cinema is the weakening state.

    When India embarked on its economic liberalization in 1991, the Congress party may have confused regulation with enforcement. Hindi cinema, worryingly, responds to this positively.

    Apart from its portrayal of law enforcement as incurably corrupt, it depicts illegal activity as a way of advancing oneself in films like Bunty Aur Babli, Dhoom 2 (2006) and Kaminey (2009). In the comedy Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006), a hoodlum learns to tell the truth in his personal life but does not abandon crime.

    These themes are prevalent in films targeted at urban audiences but in Dabangg (2010), which did very well in rural India, the policeman hero is eulogized for the way he metes out personal justice in his village rather than implementing the law impartially. Still, these “semi-urban” films – often with Salman Khan as their star – may be regarded as resisting anglophone India.

    A majority of mainstream Hindi films address anglophone audiences since they have greater spending power and these audiences have many similarities with audiences in the diaspora, which Hindi films increasingly target.

    But these anglophone audiences wield little power electorally and this has meant that Hindi films portray politics as a contaminated realm, as can be seen in Raajneeti (2010).

    India’s growth story after 2000 has also seen ostentation increasing with lavish lifestyles showcased in films as in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (2013).

    When the poor (especially farmers) are shown, they are treated not as heroes but as sad subjects of anthropology as in Peepli Live (2010). Farmers, it must be noted, were once played by the biggest stars as in Mother India (1956) and Upkaar (1967).

    But as Hindi cinema became identifiable entirely as Bollywood after 2000, it has become less of a national cinema and more of a global brand.

    If the world of Hindi cinema was once a moral ideal, one can imagine a future in which it is “hyperreal”, a reality in itself bearing no relation to the actual world.

    Om Shanti Om (2007), for instance, is constructed entirely as an advertisement for Bollywood in which celebrities appear as themselves. The story itself is simply a vehicle for Shah Rukh Khan to perform as an entertainer.

    If this film is any indication, Bollywood may not even remain Indian much longer.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On August 16, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    Dr Narine: You mentioned Priyanka Chopra and Aamir Khan who portray improper images. I too was critical of Khan for the promotion of the movie when he appeared apparently naked except for a briefcase covering his privates. Yes, especially after the excellent historical drama of Lagaan (showing colonial land policies/onerous taxes with no remissions). This guy also had a talk show (On Youtube) where the emphasis was on serious, moral/ethical/national issues. So, using his nakedness to sell his movie makes him a hypocrite.
    Then there is the other Khan (Sharrukh) who used the ‘Sh**’ word in one of his movies. There is also the third Khan (Salman) – not brothers for readers who don’t know of them – who has been convicted of poaching, which he continues to fight to avoid jail.
    Malaika Sherwat has openly declared that she has no problem doing “adult” movies (at least this is what I read).
    Ashwariya Rai was also in a Hollywood movie (Spice Woman ?) where she briefly appeared unclad as she entered a bath.

    Now we come to Priyanka Chopra. The one I am most disgusted by. She went to school in New York for a number of years (so she told a CNN talk show host – English guy chosen by Trump). This exposure in the US seems to have a marked effect on her behaviour.
    I got turned off (putting it mildly) by her performance in Quantico – in the very first episode. Early in the episode she is shown drinking double scotches on the rocks on a plane flight. The guy across the aisle (was planted by FBI as I suspected) strikes up a conversation with her. Scene changes to show her and the guy making out in his vehicle with Priyanka doing all the movements – hopping up and down in the guy’s lap! Scene changes to her pulling up her panties!
    I was (am) so disappointed and disgusted that this Bollywood female star has to come to America to cast a pall on all Indian females. Moreso, because I had told some women hours before the airing at the mandir (at lunch after havan) to look out for her premeire Quantico episode – as I has seen the TV (and billboard) advertisement and was excited that a Bollywood female star is get a lead part in a new series.

    I suspect these Bollywood women (not men) are invited to Hollywood to fatten the eyes of western men. Perhaps even to cast a blemish on Indian values.

    Why I am even more disappointed is that Chopra has been given one of India’s highest awards – the Padma Shree! This award was given after the Quantico episode. Here is what an “anglophile” (don’t let the name fool you) rag says:
    “She has made India proud globally with her role of FBI agent Alex Parrish in “Quantico” and bagging the Hollywood film “Baywatch” alongside Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron.”
    In my view, and other people I know voice the same disgust, she has demeaned Indian womanhood; but she now sports India’s 4th highest award. How unfortunate!
    Keep in mind that (unless they didn’t see the first episode, along with other racy scenes in later episodes) it is a committee that makes the recommendation for awards, so I don’t think the Modi’s BJP would have chosen her for the award.

    To understand the claim I make of ‘secularist’ corruption, the ‘anglophiles’ mentioned in the article posted by Ron are the same ones I call “secularists” and ‘Macaulay’s Children’. Lord Macaulay argued in an infamous Minute (1835):

    “[34] …We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, — a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”

    So, this “coconut” (brown outside, white inside) policy was implemented to create this class of intermediary ‘Macaulay’s Children’ who would be the go-between the colonial masters and the ‘millions who they governed’. These people still cherish their status, as well as, were taught to hate their Indian (especially Hindu) culture and religion. They are the ones (along with globalization demands) who are the corrupters of the Indian ethos.

    Over a dozen years ago, I stopped looking at Bollywood movies because of their degrading content (relative to what I knew of earlier movies). I still have about 15 movies, still in the cellophane wrappers, as I refuse to waste time and raise my blood pressure by looking at them. Occasionally, I would look at pieces of them on TV – usually on Saturday’s Bollywood Freetime on TV.

    On another issue: You mentioned the Ramayana: “When one considers that the Indian cinema once glorified the ideal womanhood, of Sita in the Ramayana, most of the current fare in Bollywood is utter rubbish.”
    Well, Prof Clem Seecharan will take issue with you. Here is what he lectured/wrote of Ram & Sita in his Eldorado Complex lecture deliver in GT, 2014.
    “Rama epitomises virtue, devotion, honesty, and a tenacious pursuit of duty, however adverse the circumstances. He lifts humankind above worldly frailties to the plane of the divine while rendering himself accessible to human appropriation, with many of the shortcomings of the latter. Sita‟s self-abnegation – her subordination of personal needs, the primacy of her loyalty and devotion to her husband – embodies what is most admirable in the Hindu woman, the essence of her being. She is a wife, mother, daughter-in-law, etc., but her individuality and personal prerogatives are sublimated to the urgencies of the joint family.
    First, he talks of Lord/’God’ Rama having “shortcomings”. Then, he finds fault with the “ideal womanhood” (as you put it) of Sita, arguing that “Sita‟s self-abnegation – her subordination of personal needs” was as a result of “the primacy of her loyalty and devotion to her husband” rather than a natural wifely reaction. He argues that the Ram & Sita relationship, as you describe it, is based on the anti-feminist ‘Patriarchy’!

    Seecharan is one of those ‘secularists’/Macaulay’s Children out to tear down age-old (Hindu) India. My upcoming book will take him on as he also claims (his thesis) that Indian indentureds marginalized/mistreated Muslims in India and then brought said marginalization (via caste system) and applied it to Blacks. Unfortunately, the good professor forgot about balance – academic symmetrical and reciprocal treatment. I will deal with all these issues in my rebuttal and turn the tables around.

    Veda NM.

  • dhanpaul narine  On August 17, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Veda, thanks. Sunny Leone is a Sikh, Karenjit Kaur, who was a porn star. She is now in Bollywood seeking redemption. Her biopic is running into problems with the Sikh community. Priyanka Chopra is engaged to a person 10 years her junior. We know that can’t last…and the list gone on. Rama and Sita is seen as the perfect couple by many. Whatever human problems they may experience is part of a divine cosmic plan.
    There was a man that came to show the world good from bad and was also part of the divine plan. Some people couldn’t understand him so they crucified him. He begged that his tormentors be forgiven: ‘ Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ I can’t wait to read your upcoming book, thanks again.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On August 17, 2018 at 10:23 am

    I was going to mention the ‘Cougar’ side of Chopra, as an older woman deems her; but some younger ones – a younger nit witty morning Tv host, among them – are excited. The said host and another nit wit Entertainment reporter also mentioned that this fella Jonas had a fling with another even older Hollywood woman- Kate Hudson who was 14 yrs older – which feminists love.
    Only now it is being revealed that Kinsey did poor research and the young male/older woman syndrome is more a curse,as for example the Jonas fella is just 25 when his brain is just completing development. Then, of course, those women and feminist aren’t interested in the younger man’s brain!
    Also, Chopra proudly mentioned a year ago how she and Sunny spent a “girls” day in NY. So Chopra has good lessons.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: