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December 23, 2016 11:31 AM   Subscribe

 
Great list but completely overlooks the past 25 years of the industry, during which there are many fantastic films. No mention of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge? Lagaan? Dil Chahta Hai? Taare Zamin Par? Chameli? Maqbool? Omkara? I am bummed.
posted by thereemix at 11:36 AM on December 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


At the very least DDLJ needs to be considered a classic. It's still playing in theaters... 21 years later.
posted by thereemix at 11:36 AM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Add links and we'll create our updated 21st century list, no? ;p I was also thinking of DDLJ tbh and while not a great movie, an era definer was Hum Aapke Hain Kaun
posted by infini at 11:41 AM on December 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


But yes, agreed on Lagaan, Dil Chahta hai, Omkara. The others I need to see .
posted by infini at 11:43 AM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


They're intentionally focusing on the period of 1949-1979, explaining why there's nothing from the past 37 years of the industry. I think, then, that "classic" refers to a period of time.
posted by timdiggerm at 11:59 AM on December 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah but the last two are iffy... nonetheless I've hogged this thread and will now step back out ;p
posted by infini at 12:01 PM on December 23, 2016


I dunno about Lagaan. For a 3.5 hour movie about learning to play cricket, I ended up no closer to understanding cricket than I was at the beginning (that took listening to the first two Psnith novels). So points off for that. On the other hand, the evil captain was very evil.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:01 PM on December 23, 2016


Can someone send this to Zac Goldsmith ...in the past?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 12:07 PM on December 23, 2016


Omkara was a super-powerful film -- great acting and super-intense -- it's also the film that convinced me I never need to see another version of Othello. Watching domestic violence play out as part of a man's tragedy... ugh, no. To be fair, that's Shakespeare's problem more than Bhardwaj'a. I'm annoyed I haven't been able to get my hands on Maqbool yet...
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:08 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


By coincidence, I've got the flu today and spent most of the day watching bits of the Worst of the Late 80s/Early 90s: Beta, Tezaab, Mrityudand and Dil. My metric of good and bad is pretty much broken now; Madhuri Dixit is so good at storming around in a sari amid flashes of lightning that she makes any nonsense watchable. From that perspective, I'm sorry the list leaves out her era completely.
posted by Aravis76 at 12:09 PM on December 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sholay is time well spent.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 12:43 PM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Aravis76, I have that same problem with SRK. I will watch him till we both grow old together. He used to be on my friend's football team (and different section in class) in St Columba's. His wife's father's brother's daughter was married long enough to my cousin to add two grandchildren to our family.
posted by infini at 12:46 PM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I dunno about Lagaan. For a 3.5 hour movie about learning to play cricket, I ended up no closer to understanding cricket than I was at the beginning (that took listening to the first two Psnith novels). So points off for that. On the other hand, the evil captain was very evil.

I don't think people who don't understand cricket are really the intended audience. Indians already know the rules of cricket (for the most part, I have maintained a studied indifference to them my entire life). It would be like trying to explain the rules of baseball in Moneyball - people would not be entertained.
posted by peacheater at 1:03 PM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to explain the rules of cricket. It's one of the rules.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:09 PM on December 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Some fine choices on the list. Nice to see one that more or less does what it claims. Bimal Roy is a director who gets overlooked far too often when people write about the history of film. The three movies they chose from him are all quite good and hard to pick between, though I am a little surprised they left off his fine version of Devdas nonetheless.

Bandini has some of the most striking moments of the three films they did choose, though people not really into classic movies and/or Bollywood, might find some of the chance elements a bit disconcerting as coincidence and fate sometimes play stronger roles than is the norm for more recent filmmakers. Do Bigha Zameen is perhaps the most touching of the three, set more in a rural area and based around a poor family struggling to get by, it has some lovely lyrical songs, and the broadest canvas of the group. Madhumati might be my favorite of the selections, though if so, it's just by a smidge and mostly for reasons that are more associative than easily definable. Really though, the one I've watched most recently is usually the one I favor most as they're all good. (Naukari too is worth seeing if these were enjoyed. Yahudi also has its moments, and is fascinating for borrowing from Ben Hur for its plot set up.)

Guru Dutt is another Bollywood master. Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool are beautiful films, and Mr & Mrs '55 is nice change of pace comedy from him, though not quite up to the two listed titles and Aar-Paar was also pleasing, though definitely lesser.

If you're just looking to be knocked out by the visuals, then Mughal-e-Azam is the one you should check out first, then watch Pakeezah to keep the mood a little longer. (After Pakeezah, if you're looking for another take on the Mughal-e-Azam story, but with a different twist to the end, you could try Anarkali, even though it has nothing of the elaborate visual flair of Mughal-a-Azam, it has it's own moments of more direct effectiveness. As an analogy, think of Mughal-e-Azam as the Michael Powell version and Anarkali as an Edgar Ulmer take on the same story.)


Raj Kapoor and Vijay Anand, I think, are a touch more well known for lasting into later eras, and their listed films here are good, but since I don't want to drone on too much I'll skip saying more about them to mention Mahal, which I really dig, and tend to think of as being roughly comparable with Madhumati, and like both a little more than Awaara, just as a comparison.

And as is the norm around here, I must mention a couple films not on the list. Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star) and Subarnarekha (The Golden Thread) aren't technically Bollywood films, so they probably didn't qualify to make the cut as they were filmed in Calcutta instead of Mumbai, but for anyone wanting to watch a classic Indian movie, they should be at the top of any list as they're both fantastic films in every way.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:24 PM on December 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Lagaan's story is less about cricket and more about beating them Angrezi bastards at their own game with their own rules. See the song Chale Chalo
posted by infini at 1:32 PM on December 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


GenjiandProust, my favorite of Bhardwaj's Shakespeare adaptations has been Haider. I definitely recommend seeking that one out too. I thought it was a sharp and clever adaptation with good use of its setting. And I hadn't thought much of Shahid Kapoor before Haider, but he was really good in it.

My favorite of the 90s Bollywood hit movies remains Dil Se. The music was just so good! In general, I am easily bedazzled, so Madhuri Dixit storming around in a sari, SRK sauntering about looking handsome, Aishwarya Rai being generally luminous like unto a goddess descended to Earth, Deepika Padukone looking saucy and alluring, etc will all endear me to otherwise garbage movies.
posted by yasaman at 2:03 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


CMD-F, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, 0 for 0.
Awww.
I'm sure it's not a Classic™, but we love it here in the Mason Dixon household.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 2:25 PM on December 23, 2016


Great list but completely overlooks the past 25 years of the industry, during which there are many fantastic films. No mention of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge? Lagaan? Dil Chahta Hai? Taare Zamin Par? Chameli? Maqbool? Omkara? I am bummed.

No love for Khal Nayak or Raja Hindustani?

If nothing else, they supplied two of the biggest earworm filmi songs in recent decades.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:24 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


You can't really go wrong with any of this list's films really. Every one of them a classic, very watchable. Shyam Benegal (I love Ankur), Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy and Raj Kapoor all deserve to be better known in the West. Amar Akbar Anthony is likely my least favorite on the list but even then I still like it a lot (mostly for the Laxmikant Pyarelal music).

A minor quibble I guess is that I'd argue that, since we're working with a 1949 to 1979 time period, that you should include a few other evergreen classics. From Vijay Anand (his masterpiece Guide is on the list) - the thriller Jewel Thief (S.D. Burman score, Dev Anand, Cabaret number with Helen, Tanuja's very cute seduction song) and the murder mystery Teesri Manzil (R.D. Burman's songs all great here, a Helen Cabaret number is wonderful). Both are accessible to the average North American viewer I think. Maybe Yash Chopra's 1969 film Ittefaq is a pretty interesting experimental songless thriller shot entirely on a single set. Or Prakash Mehra's Zanjeer which transformed Amitabh Bachan in the brooding star he became and began a new wave of film actively directed at the frustrations within the corrupted system.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:59 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


A place should have been made for Padosan.
posted by Gyan at 8:47 PM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


If songs are what make a film classic then:

Amar Prem

and the song that captures the essence of our fragile lives from Deeya aur Toofan (1956)

I have a theory of Hindi Cinema, as a mass communication medium in such an illiterate and scattered nation, especially the movies of the post Independence era, such as Do Beegha Zameen. I'll get more coffee and return to write that screed.
posted by infini at 1:22 AM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, Bollywood as a medium of mass communication across India is pretty fascinating. Not always in a good way, but still. I look forward to your screed, infini.
posted by Aravis76 at 4:40 AM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Disco Dancer...
posted by pravit at 5:46 AM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, your point is well taken Aravis76, and is an unfortunate side effect. However, that could be said of the later era when films stopped communicating social values and a common zeitgest to hold the newborn nation together, and became pure front-bencher entertainment masala.

I would say that it was Jawaharlal Nehru's era of cinema that best defines the use of Hindi films as a means to reach out to the masses and attempt to create a common sense of 'nation building'. Remember, this was before television, which effectively wouldn't arrive at scale until the late 1970s.

I also acknowledge that this mayn't have been the way I'd have started the screed if I hadn't seen Aravis76's comment, not a bad thing, just makes this more concise

The rich body of films produced in the 1950s, the decade following independence, frequently balanced entertainment and social commentary, the latter often supplied by an infusion of talent affiliated with the leftist Progressive Writers Association and the Indian Peoples' Theatre Association, a talent pool that marshaled cinema for covert political messages before independence and continued to project Nehru's optimism about nation-building for about a decade after independence. Driven by stars and songs, the popular cinema firmly established itself in the daily lives and cultural imaginations of millions of Indians as well as audiences in the Soviet Union, China, and elsewhere. This "golden age" of Hindi cinema was ending just as Satyajit Ray's first films were receiving international attention, and the 1960s would draw sharp distinctions between formulaic commercial cinema and what would be called the New Indian Cinema, the latter signaling both a shift in form and content as well as a reliance on state-sponsored financing never available to mainstream cinema. source

What's interesting is that I'd often sensed the above - while we weren't students of film at the National Institute of Design, another Nehruvian vision, we were given a grounding in the requisite Rashomon/Battleship Potemkin/Goddard schools of visual communication - but it's only now that I see that what I'd sensed in terms of patterns and era analysis is beginning to show up in critical writing as Indian film becomes a subject of serious study more recently in the past 25 years.

Many mainstream filmmakers were impacted by the optimism of the early Nehruvian years. The films of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas ('Jagte Raho', 'Awara') and others such as B R Chopra ('Naya Daur') were critical of the present but were extremely optimistic of the future. Their films were essentially Nehruvian in concept.

Another important development in the Nehruvian era were the creation of the three cultural academies — Sangeet Natak Akademi, Lalit Kala Akademi and the Sahitya Akademi. The Film and Television Institute was founded during Nehru's tenure. The FTII was designed to train filmmakers who would create films that would reflect changes taking place in Indian society rather than turn out escapist fantasies which were the staple of mainstream cinema.
Source

All might be related to the arts and to culture and other things often deemed frivolous to topdown development experts looking at povertystricken starving hordes, but as an initiate, I can say that all of these were forms of communication (and, as has been documented in the links, a form of social engineering) that formed part of Nehru's vision for building India.

India did not exist as a concept prior to it's birth at midnight of August 14/15 1947.

And cinema, as entertainment, as probably one of the earliest precursors of edutainment, was the fastest, easiest, cheapest way to create a common culture and language (figuratively speaking) - songs evoke emotion, and humans respond and bond through shared emotion.

The impact of Nehruvian thinking was felt most significantly in Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada and Oriya cinema before it was felt in Hindi films. These films were clubbed together by the press and described as parallel cinema. Most of the early graduates of the FTII, began to make films that were far more original and reflected social and aesthetic attitudes and views very much their own rather than being influenced by popular mainstream cinema of the time. Among the notable filmmakers, who made their mark were Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Aravindan* in Kerala, Girish Karnad in Karanataka, Nirad Mahapatra in Orissa among others. As far as Hindi Cinema was concerned, there were filmmakers like M S Sathyu and myself. ibid

*Aravindan's son was with us in design school, to give you a sense of how the creative class was identified, selected, and culturally bound to each other across disciplines. This sense of a community only changed in the early 2000s when one single school became 10 or more, and the links of the social network stretched far too thin across the increase in numbers.

Hindsight criticism of Nehru has become fairly fashionable today. Nehru's contribution according to me was a foundational one and contributed hugely in making India an independent minded democratic country. What Nehru did was help open up minds to different kinds of thinking and to possibilities whose significance can never be underestimated.


...all influenced either directly or obliquely by Nehruvian views on social change — the idea that one cannot develop society and move forward without actively helping to make far reaching social changes. These views are as relevant today as they were yesterday.ibid

And now, we have essentially been commodified and consumerized. The very same efficient and effective means of reaching gazillions subverted to product placements and promotion of conspicuous consumptions and loss of values, leading to the kinds of things that Aravis76 points to in their comment above.

The 1970s was a period of rising worker, peasant, and student unrest. In this changing political climate, films became more strident in addressing endemic corruption and the state's inability to stem it, and upheld the victimized working-class hero as challenging the status quo. These films, including Deewar ( The Wall , 1975) and the massive hit Sholay ( Flames , 1975), became the insignia of superstar Amitabh Bachchan (b. 1942), who embodied the "angry young man" during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's "Emergency" clampdown on civil liberties (from 1975 to 1977) and into the mid-1980s. They departed significantly from 1950s films in their lack of optimism and from 1960s films in the radically truncated attention to the hero's romantic love interest.

However, from the late 1980s on, the eclipse of Bachchan's centrality coincided with the revival of romance that returned to the screen as a culture war between the youthful (often Westernized) couple in love and their tradition-bound parents. In record-breaking hits like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge ( The Brave Hearted Will Take the Bride , 1995) and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun ( Who Am I To You? , 1994), balancing the rights of rugged individualism and duty toward family and community took center stage.

These films arrived against the backdrop of the Indian state's abandoning forty years of Nehruvian socialism for a market-driven "liberalized" economy at the end of the Cold War. Alongside these romance films about the changing family and the private sphere were slick portrayals of the urban (and occasionally the rural) underworld in proliferating gangster films such as Satya (1998) and Company (2002), which mapped a decaying public sphere and audaciously represented onscreen the actual infiltration of the offscreen film world by underworld "black money" financing and extortion.

Although cinema remains extremely popular in India, the increased availability of a films (via video, digital technology, and cable television) outside of India has illuminated the importance of a film's international circulation among
source

With its reach and influence, Hindi Cinema could still attempt to save our misogynistic violent corrupt society - hence the mentions that you see here in the thread of Amir Khan's Dil Chahta Hai<----specifically highlighted as a key changer of social mores and a more open minded society. Lagaan, DDLJ, Omkara, all of these were the young and fresh blood, not just sons and grandsons of stars.

But will it do so? And can it leverage the expertise of the mass communicators from advertising and branding across the mobile channels, to bring together again the modernized version (and vision) of an inclusive society with values and social mores?

I don't know but it makes me realize that I'll have to find out by reaching out to the network when I'm next in Delhi in the spring.
posted by infini at 5:55 AM on December 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


I thought of Padosan too. The bike-ride song at the beginning of that movie is one of my happy places.
posted by jabah at 6:41 AM on December 24, 2016


That's a really fascinating context, infini, and mostly new to me. Growing up, I associated Hindi cinema with Bollywood masala and regional (in my case, Malayalam) cinema with socially conscious high art. It's only as an adult that I've come to the Hindi movies made before 1979 and seen the radical discontinuity between what they do and the 80s/90s romantic comedies and action movies I grew up with. In childhood, I knew the songs from those early movies but not the stories.
posted by Aravis76 at 7:26 AM on December 24, 2016


That's because y'all are spoilt by high literacy and thus cinematic culture/tradition - Chemmeen comes to mind instantly as a movie transcending cultural/linguistic barriers to stay in my mind.

Y'all have Mammooty and Adoor Gopalakrishnan and G. Aravindam, plus the entire library of writers of tales and singers of songs (Yesudas, whom I've seen live)

for complicated reasons, lived steeped in mal culture all through undergrad


Go on, fill this out for me
posted by infini at 9:08 AM on December 24, 2016


That list is shockingly incomplete without "Hum Saath Saath Hain" which is the most saccharine sweet, family-friendly film of all time with a very catchy soundtrack. Also, it stars Karisma Kapoor who is very easy on the eyes.
posted by Ariadne at 10:17 AM on December 24, 2016


As an outsider who is only glancingly familiar with much of Indian film history, there are, nonetheless, some striking parallels that seem to crop up between how Indian cinema and US and world cinema has developed over time.

That Bollywood has so dominated the discussion about Indian films, I suppose, isn't surprising. The same is true of Hollywood dominance in talking about US films, though Hollywood tends to also be the measure for world film history in a way Bollywood doesn't match. In my own mental construct of film history, I ted to think of Bollywood's "Golden Age", of the '40's and '50's as being roughly equivalent to Hollywood in the 30's, where musicals developed with the rise of sound and were one of the first major genre successes in Hollywood. The addition of songs gave films an added attraction for much of the country, far from New York or other major centers of music culture and allowed people to actually see and hear stars sing rather than rely on their own playing via sheet music to transmit popular songs. (Radio too of course would play a major role here, but Hollywood provided a story and glamour for common audiences to appreciate the works in a shared space, as a community.)

Along with the music, Hollywood in those early sound years too focused more on social dramas or on, at least, providing some social context to the stories that were frequently progressive, championing the "little man" and his struggles against capitalism. Even more escapist films set among the rich so they could provide glamour that one wouldn't see at home, there was often an undercurrent expressing the greater values of the poor or middle class. Some of this was largely fraudulent or cheap ways to make audiences feel better, but adjusting for cultural circumstance, wasn't too far off from some of the Bollywood movies of the '50's and their take on social issues.

As Hollywood developed and the system stabilized into a money making machine, these attitudes became more formalized; less immediate and more just trappings of convention and film genres increasingly hardened into more standardized plots and settings, where the major events in the films were often just variations on the themes, rather than new developments being created as they went. So too Bollywood seemed to increasingly find formulas that "worked" and hardened into more set events within their more narrow genres. That Bollywood didn't broaden its scope as Hollywood did, to a wider range of genres and move away from songs being as central a component in many of them, is, I imagine, due to the difference in cultural circumstance post WWII. In the US, first radio was everywhere, and eventually television would follow, making the song less important for getting people to the movies, than raw spectacle of action. India, from what I've read, took far longer to have the same level of media concentration available to the average citizen, with many of the lower class not having the same access to those kinds of benefits of societal wealth even into the latter part of the last century. So they continued to adhere to an "older" tradition as viewers still gained a jolt from it that wasn't as true in the US.

In Bollywood in the sixties, the major films seemed to be, roughly, equivalent to Hollywood in the fifties. Studio bound genre works where a fairly substantial style system had developed around making for higher quality craft in any single work, but a more uniform tone overall. when Sholay came around in the mid-seventies, it matched the US explosion of desire for "blockbusters" that came with The Exorcist, Jaws, Rocky, and Star Wars. The path to that point for each country was different, in the US it was the dying studio system and struggles in the more "independent" director driven cinema of the sixties and early seventies, where all the old money making figures were disappearing and new figures had yet to evolve, while in Bollywood the shift seemed more a direct reaction to social changes versus the indirect path in the US.

Once that blockbuster mentality set in though, the next couple decades marked a major change in how films were viewed as "new" money making ventures. Genres became even more compressed and less experimentation was welcome in attempts to find the next big things. Where before, commerce and art may have co-existed uneasily, now commerce took the upper hand, creating a market that was starting to focus more on fine tuning formula from a general concept to more of an assembly line idea. That ideal still holds in many of the corporation values, but criticism and wider availability and sharing of films from around the world gave those creating movies more ideas of their own on how to work around the system and still try to make meaningful works and money, hoping to bring that uneasy art/commerce pairing back into closer balance.

At the same time, Bollywood by dint of it not being as closely aligned with Hollywood and thus not relying on the US for the same level of "inspiration" or feeling the need to capitulate to the superior strength the US system had built up in the post war era, could serve as an alternative to Hollywood, rather than an imitation of it or a reaction to it. The strength of the Indian film market allowed them to continue on their own path and serve as influence of their own to nations also not closely aligned with the US. Many "third world"nations or those under closer influence from the Soviets had movements where Bollywood seemed to be the stronger influence than Hollywood, at least in early stages of their own film development. Egypt, for just one example, had, for a brief time, a strong musical film tradition that appeared to owe a great deal to Bollywood's Golden Age.

Again though, Indian cinema is by no means just Bollywood and Satyajit Ray. There have been many fine directors and films made outside the Bollywood system. Some do more or less follow the musical drama concept that has proven so successful, while others take more inspiration from other film making traditions or develop their own singular styles. Mrinal Sen, John Abraham, Ritwik Ghatak, Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mani Kaul, Aparna Sen, Deepa Mehta, Mira Nair, Girish Kasaravalli, Goutam Ghose, Mani Ratnam, and many others have and are making movies that don't fit the dominant Western idea of Indian film = Bollywood. So while not wishing to overly knock Bollywood any more than I would Hollywood, given its mix of good and awful, I just want to remind people who may not be familiar with Indian film history that there is a lot more to it than is popularly conceived.

One final thought going back to infini's excellent and surely more accurate post on the subject, a real difficulty in speaking about the potential effects of art or in the appreciation of it is that movies do not speak to all the same way and because of that, competing measures of value can work against each other depending on who is observing and what they are attempting to measure. To ask of films social impact is to measure its value along something like a utilitarian line, while artistic value is often a more, forgive me for saying, elite value.

Those who appreciate film as an art often tend to value it along those latter lines, and due to that may often deeply dislike films that may have a stronger utilitarian value by dint of appealing more to mass audiences and being, effectively "simpler". That tension in appreciation is even more difficult than it appears as those "elitists" aren't actually wrong either, and that "social worth" is, at best, an extremely difficult thing to measure, hard to judge via any given work's "meaning" in theory and what may actually be taken from it in practice and so on. There have been long debates around films like Schindler's List and Crash, for just two examples, between these differing points of view and there is no easy way to judge who is right in the end. At best we can hope to be more internally consistent on the question, but even that is difficult given how we each tend to hold our own values as defining when judging merit.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on the subject, but, again, fair warning, they are largely idiosyncratic and based off of limited information on the subject as I certainly am not am expert on the in-depth history in Indian cinema, just someone who's watched a fair amount of movies from there and elsewhere, so don't take my claims as in any way defining, more just some rough theories for others to kick around or correct should they choose since it's a topic I think is worthy of a lot more conversation.

Oh, and due to this thread and the holiday, I picked up a copy of Saawariya from my local videostore today and I'm going to make a Fanfare post on it in hopes of getting some further discussion on a specific film there.


TL;DR version; Indian cinema is a wonderful land of contrasts, just like in the US and elsewhere.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:04 PM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


movements where Bollywood seemed to be the stronger influence than Hollywood

Hausa language movies from Nollywood, Malay language movies from the era when P.Ramlee was gold
posted by infini at 2:42 AM on December 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


a real difficulty in speaking about the potential effects of art or in the appreciation of it is that movies do not speak to all the same way and because of that, competing measures of value can work against each other depending on who is observing and what they are attempting to measure.

Back in the 80s, during that transitional point for both parallel cinema (Arth, all Smita Patil's notable work) and "Bollywood" (a recent name, I grew up with "Hindi Films" as Shyam Benegal refers to them) there was a distinctly visible struggle in the press on just this aspect.

To synthesize the whole rather crudely would be to use the metaphor of a picture book versus a book full of text and no pictures.
posted by infini at 2:58 AM on December 25, 2016


Malay language movies from the era when P.Ramlee was gold

Oh, good call. P.Ramlee was pretty amazing. I love Ibu mertuaku, for example, where he writes, acts, directs, scores and plays the music in the film. The Indian influence is definitely there, as is the sort of complete control associated with Chaplin and a few other big multi-talented film-makers.

Back in the 80s, during that transitional point for both parallel cinema (Arth, all Smita Patil's notable work) and "Bollywood" (a recent name, I grew up with "Hindi Films" as Shyam Benegal refers to them) there was a distinctly visible struggle in the press on just this aspect.

Yes, "Bollywood" is a designation I'm sort of iffy about myself, but common usage of it as a more global reference seems to make it the easiest term to use to garner some understanding of what's being talked about for a wide audience. I would personally also feel some caution over saying anything about Hindi films myself since the lesser usage of that description would leave me concerned I'd be misrepresenting some Hindi language films by grouping them in with the more conventional or commercial popular works that make up the more common association of "Bollywood" movies. It's a difficulty based largely on being an outsider to the culture and needing more concrete markers as a guide to a non-native system.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:14 AM on December 25, 2016


Quite easy really, "art film" aka artyfarty from the Fitty (FTII) crowd vs hindi fillum (bollywood)

Commercial vs Art Cinema in India
posted by infini at 12:03 PM on December 25, 2016


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