The future of Hindi cinema

I’m excerpting Rajeev Masand and Anupama Chopra’s reviews of Dhadak. I haven’t seen Sairat, the movie on which Dhadak is based on, but I’ll excerpt what Rajeev and Anupama said:

(1) a homogeneised Dharma production of the caste issue (there was an important water scene in Sairat not repeated in Dhadak) (RM)

(2) Jhaanvi’s hair was perfect throughout the second half even when they were living in the slum (AC).

Both RM & AC give 2.5 stars though Ishaan Khatter repeats his performance in Beyond the Clouds.

It’s triggered a thought that we are seeing the Ambanification + KJoification + Modisation of an Indian National culture.

Ambani represents the concentrated capital of India’s oligarchs that make India such a compelling and extreme proposition. KJo of course spins glamorous illusions (some say delusions) that will make India a magnet for South Asia and Modi is Modi; an assertive right wing national identity.

I think it will be the “regional” films (Marathi, Lollywood, Kollywood) that will provide the authentic fodder and link to “real & rural India” that Hindi cinema is having a tenuous relationship with. Also as a pushback is the trend in Hindi films to focus on small town Indian cities like Barfi because after a while it gets a bit tiring to see Manhattan and London repeated ad nauseaum..

Sairat’s excellent trailer here:

17 thoughts on “The future of Hindi cinema”

  1. “I think it will be the “regional” films (Marathi, Lollywood, Kollywood) that will provide the authentic fodder and link to “real & rural India””

    I dunno, Hindi movies have always been pretty fake. When clips play from 1960’s Hindi films, they always show the extreme end of wealthy, Westernized life in Bombay which didn’t reflect the reality of 99.9% of Indians. If anything, the ones they make nowadays tend to be more gritty and realistic.

    I think the real outrage of Slumdog Millionaire in Bollywood was that these foreign guys came and took their cameras to the slums down the street of the Bollywood studios and won a couple of Oscars doing something that the Bollywood directors largely ignored (with few exceptions) for 75 years.

    1. @Raj
      Curious to know if your handle is a reference to the city in northern Bihar.

  2. Credit here goes to Bal Thackeray. Without him, there would have never been a Sairat.

    Hindi has already murdered Gujarati, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Magadhi, Haryanvi, Rajasthani, Kumaoni and Garwhali. Would have murdered Marathi as well.

    Punjabi survives due to Sikhism.
    Marathi due to Shiv Sena.

      1. It isn’t.

        Gujarati L1 speakers (Hindus, Muslims, Parsis) have a fantastic attitude towards their language.

      2. Gujarati is no longer spoken widely in the major cities of Gujarat, except by the older generation.

        Experience of a Gujarati origin non-Indian in today’s Gujarat:

        “I would explicitly state that I was not really comfortable in Hindi and ask the other person to switch to Gujarati. The result was usually a brief look of astonishment, followed by a switch to Gujarati. (Most people of my age in Gujarati cities, having grown up with Bollywood films and satellite television, feel comfortable enough with the language that they would not have to beg out of a conversation.) But then, the strangest thing would happen—after a few turns in the conversation, the other person would switch back to Hindi.”

        “What shocked me most about the changeover in default language was the strength of its hold in stranger-stranger interactions. When I discussed the switch with people, many attributed it to the growing population of non-Gujarati speakers, and that cosmopolitanism would be a fine explanation for why others initiated conversations in Hindi; but it cannot explain why other native Gujarati speakers persisted in speaking a second language to someone who spoke Gujarati, seemed uncomfortable with Hindi, and explicitly expressed his discomfort with it. I had somehow been pigeon-holed into a particular linguistic box, from which I could not easily break out.”

        Find it hard to believe that slapstik considers this ‘a fantastic attittude’. It is literally like murdering one’s own mother to please a foreign empress.

        1. @Vikram
          My family has lived in Gujarat for almost two decades. I consider it my second home state after Bihar.

          Gujarati will survive on account of its script which is not the case with every other language you grouped it with.
          If you roam around the bigger cities, Devanagari is almost absent except maybe in Ahmedabad. (lot of immigrants owing to the presense of major institutions and also proximity to Rajasthan.)

          The main problem with Gujarati is lack of entertainment. So you don’t feel like Gujjus are being assertive about their language. I guess this is because Gujarat is a big market for Bollywood. It does receive fair representation. (Remember Virani family from Kyun ki..)

          Biharis overcame this lack of represenation by building their own film industry from scratch over the last 1.5 decades.

          I’d even say the Gujarati openness to Hindi has helped them grow their influence over the rest of the country.

          1. Prats, Maithili and Rajasthani both had their own scripts, but did not survive.

            The only hope I see is that an assertive Marathi will inspire the other Indo-Aryan communities to survive, thrive and be more assertive in the face of Hindi aggression.

        2. hard to believe that slapstik considers this ‘a fantastic attittude’

          I was not being flippant. I am married to a Gujarati, and have both Hindu and Parsi relatives spread over India-UK-USA. In India, my in-laws’ wider family live in Mumbai and Gujarat (Baroda, Ahmedabad). I have never seen anyone (Hindu or Parsi) switch to Hindi/Urdu to speak with other Gujaratis. There’s significant use of English, sometimes even between Indian cousins – but no Hindi – ever! The same Gujarati/English bilingualism is reflected in their offspring as well.

          In general, the Gujarati attitude towards their mother tongue is a far cry from the ease with which Punjabi or Pahari Hindus etc in North India switch to Hindi vernacular.

      1. There are international schools all across India in major metros today.

        Here are the language policies they follow:

        In Lucknow (in the heart of Awadh): English and Hindi compulsory. French or Sanskrit option for third language. Awadhi, obliterated for a long time of course.

        In Pune/Mumbai (Thackeray land): English compulsory. Marathi COMPULSORY. Hindi or French option for third language.

        In Bengaluru (resistance but not Thackeray level balls): English compulsory. Hindi, French or Sanskrit 2nd language option. Kannada or Hindi third language option.

        North Indian/Gujarati Hindi subservients conveniently make their kids take French as 2nd language and Hindi as third language.

        In Surat/Baroda (Gujarat): English compulsory. Hindi 2nd language compulsory. Sanskrit third language compulsory.

        Note that Gujarati isnt even offered. This is the attitude of Gujarati elites towards their language and the level of subservience towards Hindi.

        No way this language is surviving unless there is a Shiv Sena type resistance, but the predominance of militant Hindu nationalism militates against any such possibility. The price of irrational Muslim hatred for Gujarati Hindus is going to be the loss of their language.

    1. yeah Marathi does not survive because of the whole history of Marathas who established an empire, or because many great Marathi writers and playwrights (Shivaji Sawant, Vijay Tendulkar) have kept Marathi alive as a literary language or because Marathi theatre is still alive and kicking.

      Its alive because a goon whose writ never even ran outside Mumbai said so.

      This is like saying Hinduism survives in India because the ‘Ram Sene’ activists in Bangalore don’t allow youngsters to party on Valentines Day.

      1. Braj bhasha, Maithili, Awadhi also had plenty of litterateurs (in fact they had a longer history than Hindi). None of them have survived the onslaught of Hindi.

        Languages need political domination in an area to survive. They need to be state/official languages so that important work is done in them, and a ready market of speakers/readers is created for mass consumption of work produced in it.

        Thackeray ensured this political domination. His party won elections in Maharashtra and has ruled Mumbai for many years.

      2. Janamejaya

        Cant help folks who see themselves as victim in every narrative. Let it pass.

  3. Movies thrive in cultural and linguistic spheres, which frequently transcend national and provincial boundaries. This is the reason usually only one movie Industry dominates a linguistic sphere.

    The reason British movie industry is puny compared to Hollywood is because Hollywood meets all the entertainment needs of the English speaking audience. British don’t need to wait for their home movie industry to entertain them. This is the same reason Pakistani Urdu movie industry never really measured against Bollywood. It simply got subsumed by Bollywood.

    All across north India and Pakistan Hindi/Urdu is widely understood, even if it may not be the mother tongue of everyone. Therefore regional movie industry in this vast swathe of land will always remain stifled. An occasional “Sairat” is a one off phenomenon. It does not indicate that Marathi movie industry is ready to take on Bollywood.

    Compare this situation to the state of Southern movie Industry. Telugu and Tamil movie industries are huge. They even provide remake material and trends to Bollywood. I believe Telugu industry is bigger than Bollywood in term of number of movies produced. The kind of lavish movies they make (e.g. Bahubali) rival Hollywood in extravaganza. The reason is again linguistic. Average Tamil or Telugu does not understand Hindi. Hence the need for a strong regional movie industry.

    No North Indian/Marathi/Pakistani industry will ever come close to this. Reason, they all understand Hindi, and they will always have their fill of entertainment from Bollywood.

    1. Excellent points – what about Bengali cinema.
      We have a niece staying with us from Colombo and she mentions that Bollywood is extremely popular there but it is subtitled as the Singhalese don’t understand Hindi.

      Is there an Aryan connection; I think Persian cinema has alot to offer Bollywood.

      Beyond the Clouds (Majid Majidi director which introduced Ishaan Khatter)

      Hindi cinema is only now tentatively touching slum living (Dhadak, Hichki). Audeinces are demanding more “real India” than Dharma Productions India..

Comments are closed.

Brown Pundits