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Monday, October 19, 2015

From fiction to factual

The changing phases of Hindi cinema reveal the evolving audience taste.

In the year 2008, when “Jodhaa-Akbar” hit the screens, there was a debate around the Rani Jodhabai’s existence with some historians questioning the authenticity of her presence in the Mughal era. Strangely, K. Asif’s magnum opus “Mughal-e-Azam” (1960) was not challenged on the same basis in its time may be because the audiences then were too particular about the truth in the film and saw it as just a source of entertainment and leisure.

A sizeable part of Hindi cinema has been viewed as fiction-driven with the viewers finding their wildest fantasies coming true in the movies. Be it a genie who could fulfil all the wishes to fighting several goons single-handedly even if it was an invisible man known as “Mr. India”, we had always believed that whatever is impossible can be done only in films. Hence, the disclaimer before the start of a film that it is purely fictitious and bears no resemblance to any living or dead person makes sense.

In the beginning, the emphasis of our cinema was on mythology with films like “Raja Harishchandra” (1913), “Shri Krishna Janma” (1918) and “Bhakta Vidur” (1921) ruling the roost. Gradually, tales from Persia too became the subject matter of Hindi films and came in the form “Alibaba and Chalees Chor” (1932), “Bulbul-e-Baghdad” (1932) and “Aladdin” (1945), which became immensely popular across all ages.

Jainendra NiFollowing this attempt was made move to subjects in which audiences could relate to and this saw an effort to reconstruct the Mughal history in movies like “Mughal-e-Azam”, “Taj Mahal” (1963) and “Jahan Ara” (1964) which were well accepted but lacked historical authenticity.

The 70s and 80s saw a movement towards drawing heavily from the contemporary life and films based on politics like “Aandhi” (1975) and “Kissa Kursi Ka” (1977) were presented along with “Nishant” (1977) and “Aakrosh” (1980) which highlighted pertinent social issues. Even though contemporary, these movies were still fictional.

Moving over to the 90s, Hindi cinema now sought inspiration from stories which were far removed from reality with parallel cinema losing ground substantially. The popularity of movies like “Hum Aapke Hain Koun” (1994), “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” (1995) and “Raja Hindustani” (1996) among others proved that the audiences intended to keep films and reality as two separate entities.

The Y2K generation found it difficult to accept fiction without credibility and thus issue-based movies were revived and witnessed commercial actors doing films like “Aparhan” (2005) which brought to fore the nexus of kidnapping mafia and political establishment and “Aarakshan” (2011) bringing the vested interests involved in reservation of seats and jobs.

The recent trends indicate movie goers preferring realistic depiction and that is evident with the success of “Chak De India” (2007), “Dirty Picture” (2011), “No One Killed Jessica” (2011), “Paan Singh Tomar” (2012), “Special 26” (2013), “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” (2013), “Mary Kom” (2014), “Manjhi: The Mountain Man” (2015) and the recent one to hit the screens, “Talvar”. These films emphasise that instead of fiction, audience appreciates a script which strikes a chord with them. The narrative is taut without any frills or distraction.

No longer eager to see happy endings or supernatural miracles of somebody’s eyesight being restored by divine intervention or long-lost kith and kin being recognised by mole or mark, the audiences have moved on.

So rest in peace, fiction.

Forwarded by:- Jainendra Nigam, PB NewsDesk prasarbharati.newsdesk@gmail.com
Source & Credit:- http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/from-fiction-to-factual/article7766438.ece

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