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Whether it's playing housie with housewives or spooking journos with fake ghosts, the Bollywood hype machine is in top gear.
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Films are a great binding factor, or so the late film critic Roger Ebert would have us believe.
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The new face of film
In its early years, Hindi cinema drew inspiration from two sources: the melodrama and colour of Parsi theatre and characters from Indian mythology. This meant that the protagonist had to be gloriously virtuous, the villain loathsome and the women hapless victims of circumstances. But the new breed of filmmakers don't want to tell fake stories about non-existent perfect or totally flawed men and women.
They know the real world is much more complex and nuanced. So their hero can be crass and corrupt, ma can swig rum and not slave in the kitchen, and the heroine is feisty (though she's probably changed the least of all). The best part about the new crop of films has been the ensemble cast - beautifully etched characters whose faces linger in your memory long after the film's over.
Actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Gulshan Devaiah, 'Bob Biswas' and even some rank newcomers (in films like Shaitan, Delhi Belly, Tere Bin Laden, Phans Gaye Re Obama) have given sterling performances. Director Tigmanshu Dhulia, whose sleeper hit Paan Singh Tomar, told the story of an athlete turned dacoit says that Hindi cinema is at an exciting stage of transformation with old prototypes breaking down for good.
"Today's filmmakers are conscious of the changed value systems of the society they live in. Some of them are smart kids from metros, some from mofussil towns but they are not hypocritics. They want to portray the world as it exists - warts and all. And the audience is ready for the change, which is obvious from the success of the latest crop of indie films, "says Dhulia.
Through its 100-year history, Bollywood has seen many changes but as most insiders point out, the formula has still ruled the box office. But this time around, the change looks to be for keeps. Nostalgia for the seductive vamp, the evil villain and the nasty mother-in-law will probably have to be reserved for YouTube, or the odd remake like Agneepath
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