April 28, 2011

GLOBALIZATION IS ANGLOFICATION:

Death by Dialogue: What does it mean for the future of Hindi cinema if most films are now in fact conceived, thrashed out and largely executed not in Hindi but in English? Will filmmakers only tell the stories of a minuscule section of the population? (TRISHA GUPTA, 1 May 2011, Caravan)

IT MAY SEEM UNIMAGINABLE to a generation brought up on Abhishek Bachchan’s Bluffmaster! rap and Kareena Kapoor’s size-zero diet, but 20 years ago, Hindi films were not cool. In large numbers of upper-middle-class, English-speaking Indian families, children were banned from watching “that trash”. Even if they grew up watching Hindi films on television (and
later, video) in the company of grandmothers and household help, they would transition, by their teenage years, into thinking of them as a sort of guilty pleasure.

But a decade and a half ago, something changed. The reemergence of the teenybopper romance, now enclosed in the cloying folds of the family, began to wean the middle-class audience away from their TV-VCR viewing and back to the cinemas—which were themselves being revamped into multiplexes. In a kind of reaction to the saccharinesweet, sanitised, mostly foreign locales of these films, there emerged the gritty urban gangster film. For 42-year-old Navdeep Singh, who had been working as an advertising professional in the US, the moment of transformation was coming back home on holiday in 1998 and watching Satya. He went on to direct Manorama Six Feet Under (2007). For 27-year-old scriptwriter Ishita Moitra (whose credits include 2009’s Kambakkht Ishq, and this year’s Always Kabhi Kabhi), then barely in her teens, it was Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995). “Earlier, you spoke to your friends about Batman, but not about the Hindi films you watched. That changed after DDLJ,” says Moitra.

Over the past decade, people like Singh and Moitra—people whose primary language is English—have come to form a larger proportion of the Hindi film industry than ever before. In the changing demographic of Hindi cinema, not just of actors and art directors, but even directors and scriptwriters are people much more comfortable in English than in Hindi. What does it mean, one wonders, for most films to be made in a language that no longer comes easily to their creators? What does it mean for Hindi cinema if most films under that rubric are now in fact conceived, thrashed out and largely executed not in Hindi but in English?


It means you've left the Third World.

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Posted by at April 28, 2011 5:51 AM
  

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