• Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019
  • Last Update : 01:19 am

Bollywood and the world

  • Published at 09:02 pm November 7th, 2019
Sadia apu's session photo in DLF 2019
Dhaka Tribune Showtime Editor Sadia Khalid and Professor Rachel Dwyer from University of London in the session How Bollywood is a lens to modern India yesterday | Rajib Dhar

Held at the Poet Shamsur Rahman seminar room in Bangla Academy and moderated by Dhaka Tribune’s Showtime editor and film critic, Sadia Khalid, the speaker of the panel was Rachel Dwyer - professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS, University of London. She has published 10 books, several of which are on Indian cinema. Discussing her unique and diverse choice of academic background, Dwyer informed that while conducting a research for her PhD in Gujarat, she developed an interest of watching Hindi films

Bollywood movies have long been known for their colourful song-and-dance numbers and its knack for combining drama, comedy, action-adventure, and music. However, these exciting, and often amusing films rarely reflect the reality of life in the Indian subcontinent. Exploring the nature of mainstream Hindi cinema, the panel titled How Bollywood is a lens to modern India examined its non-realistic depictions of everyday life in India and what it reveals about Indian society on the first day of Dhaka Lit Fest 2019, yesterday. 

Held at the Poet Shamsur Rahman seminar room in Bangla Academy and moderated by Dhaka Tribune’s Showtime editor and film critic, Sadia Khalid, the speaker of the panel was Rachel Dwyer - professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS, University of London. She has published 10 books, several of which are on Indian cinema. Discussing her unique and diverse choice of academic background, Dwyer informed that while conducting a research for her PhD in Gujarat, she developed an interest of watching Hindi films. 

“I feel like people who aren’t familiar with Indian cinema, perceive it as a failed form of cinema - the story or acting isn’t realistic, the song and dance sequences don’t make sense. However, what I feel is that, people who think that way aren’t very good readers of cinema,” said Professor Dwyer. 

“I don’t want to go into a cinema hall to watch a realistic film - and what is a realistic film? It’s all a form of artwork. What people do want to see in a Hindi film is emotional realism, something about values being put under stress. And the way that Hindi film followers have responded to that, is what creates these massive audiences.”

According to Dwyer, many of the arts in the West no longer pay attention to minds and souls, but instead concentrate on bodies. Hindi films, instead, she points out, still ask important questions about morals and selves. Showing how escapism and entertainment function in Bollywood cinema, Rachel Dwyer argues that Hindi cinema’s interpretations of India over the last two decades are a reliable guide to understanding the nation’s changing hopes and dreams.

She concluded the session by saying, “Bollywood isn’t the national film of India. I think it thinks it is, and it tries to be. I think it tries to be all Indian but there are so many different communities, languages, and cultures -- how do you create something which is just Indian? What’s important is, other forms of regional films are gaining so much popularity, like Gujarati, Bhojpuri and so on.”