Fri, 24 May, 2024

Faculty Corner: What Bollywood Means To Me

By Menosh Appl

(Author Bio: Menosh Appl is an English lecturer at Deerwalk Institute of Technology, Sifal, Kathmandu.) I grew up watching Bollywood movies, listening to Hindi songs, dancing to Bhangra beats…At pre-adolescence, they provide immense entertainment, and at adolescence the songs are a means of communication between teenage love-struck lovers, who send each other notes or text messages with the lyrics of some romantic Bollywood song. You can’t do that with Hollywood movies. For most, Bollywood means escaping their lives and delving into a new world. It means letting go of your day-to-day mundane chores and dancing with Rani Mukherji instead. It means getting serenaded by Hritik Roshan with exaggerated love poems and gestures. The movies tap on our basic emotional need-the need to be acknowledged and understood. The need to be loved and cared for. They sound cliché and they are, but they are also simple and real. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world is able to go out and find their Rani or Hritik, sing songs in the rain, fight all obstacles and then walk slowly towards the sunset, holding hands and singing yet another song. Yet, it’s good to have that image somewhere in the back of our heads that happiness is possible, however way you define happiness. Unlike in Bollywood, a song cannot be the remedy to amnesia or a coma. People don’t usually wake up from 10 years of coma because their mother or best friend sings them a song. But, in Bollywood, everything is possible! And that’s just part of its appeal. We know that we cannot cure cancer with a hug, but boy, do we wish we could! It’s also impossible to have five wardrobe and scenery changes during a single song; it sure would be awesome though. Bollywood gives you that option. You can dance on trains in one scene and then get shifted to Switzerland and ski in the next. You can postpone death until all of your friends and family gather around so you could say goodbye! Who wouldn’t want that kind of free-will? Hindi films (pre-2000s, aka pre-Hollywoodization of Bollywood) presented things in black & white. You had a protagonist and an antagonist. The protagonist was truthful, brave, honest, hardworking and thoughtful. The antagonist was the exact opposite, deceitful, lecherous, and cartoonish, basically Lucifer’s cousin. No matter what happened, at the end the protagonist always won. He (never a she, but that’s for a different article) would get justice for himself and all the marginalized folks. This was great because it showed that regardless of what happens, life will go in favor of those who are just and good. For the common folk, this is hopeful and encouraging. Never mind the reality. The way they depicted the antagonists (badmash), even if you were jaded like me, you couldn’t side with them. You had to side with the hero. The naivety of humanity would always take over. I used to make fun of such stories, because…well, cynicism. Now I get nostalgic listening to those songs and I go onto YouTube or Netflix to find those old movies just to escape one more time. Songs that take me back to my childhood, playing hopscotch, picking flowers to make earrings, climbing on trees to steal fruit…To feel the warmth of innocence again. To be reminded of boundless joy. To be able to run the infinite field of possibilities…This is what Bollywood still means to me.