I usually begin a new year by asking Bollywood for both a little more and a little less. In keeping with previous years, my wish list for 2014 is not too ambitious, because that would be setting oneself up for disappointment. I’m just hoping for thoda sa hatke, as the Bolly line goes.
Give me one, I implore you, dear denizens of the biggest film industry in the world, just one film that will not have a man (it is almost always a man, so you can’t accuse me of sexism) urinating, or farting, or sitting on the pot, or all of the above, in the name of humour. Comedies don’t have to be constructed around wet patches or puddles or noxious smells; they can also be woven around circumstance, or character or, what do you know, even plot.
I understand that these require writing skills and basic sharpness, but surely, in 800 films, is it so hard to come up with one that will not use base toilet humour as its only crutch? Yes, there are enough of us who can handle funnies that may only have smart lines or knotty situations. Watching someone take a dump can conceivably cause laughter, but is that all that’s left? One of my worst memories of 2013 will remain having to see the redoubtable Rishi Kapoor being made to “go potty” in the same film that had his son Ranbir doing “susu”: Besharam is truly Bollywood’s shame.
If you want to make “adult” “sex” “comedies” (each of those words require separate quote marks because Bollywood still hasn’t got that genre locked down, in which case it would be, simply, adult sex comedies), please go right ahead. Just make sure they are meant for adults, not a string of juvenile, puerile jokes masquerading as “comedies”. It says a great deal for Bollywood as a 100-year-old film-making entity, and us as a “growing” audience that we accept such gormless pap as Grand Masti as an “adult sex comedy”: those leading men in the film just happen to be married, but are they grown up? Groan.
Thrillers require pace and robust storytelling and heroes who can kick serious butt. What we get instead is limp set-pieces that Hollywood has long since done and dusted, fronted by “superstars” who look older than they should. I’m not saying we need fellows with soft down on their cheeks for action. Even Hollywood uses middle-aged heroes, especially to keep expensive franchises going, but they appear to be one with the plan. Bollywood’s home-grown action stars don’t filibuster and deliver round-house kicks with the same power. You can see their doubles labouring and straining, or you can see double chins wobbling: how much disbelief can you suspend?
If you are making thrillers, give us guys whose pectorals ripple in the sun, and who look capable of tearing the baddies limb to limb. The continued…