Bollywood: All the way down... on the highway to Hell?
For people who have not yet been a witness to the inadvertently long torture that was offered by Imtiaz Ali this week, in other words ‘Cocktail’, might find this relevant. And sadly, most people who have watched it already will go ahead and endorse the views offered by the film. A heartfelt thanks to director Imtiaz Ali for pushing the Indian audience even deeper into the abyss called regression. The man’s vision is nowhere that of an iconoclast, and his ‘Cocktail’ is a film that will hopefully go down in the registers of oblivion. That, however, is only a hope.
Of late, the Hindi film industry seems to be on the threshold of a painful downfall – at least as far as sensibility is concerned. The film in question, for example, takes a lot of pain to prove that the so-called ‘good’ girl is the only one who gets the man. Not the ‘rich bitch’ who parties hard, sleeps with men and leads a messy life. Meanwhile, the man in the film enjoys it all – two exceedingly pretty women vying for his attention like he was a rare kind of creature, women all over the place swoon over him with drooling tongues and he, the self-proclaimed ‘handsome, intelligent’ man – <i>he</i> is endowed with the power to choose.
Even till a while back, there existed a time when films in India were adored and lauded for their quality of being trendsetters – in every sense possible. And then there is this time when most directors believe in the instant formula for success – following the norm blindly. Experimental films trickle in once in a blue moon, and are lost in the dreary desert sand of the Indian audience’s dead habit. For a movie-going audience, the entertainment quotient of Hindi films probably needs to be revamped now. However, good films are so far and few these days that one can do nothing but surrender to the constant bombardment of blunt bullets from Bollywood.
Coming back to ‘Cocktail’, Imtiaz Ali and Homi Adjania, the film clearly demarcates, in bold, unmistakeable visual, frame after frame, the age old contrasts between the commonly perceived qualities of ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’. Deepika Padukone’s Veronica might appear quite ‘modern’ by the sound of the name itself, but by the end of the film, she too dwindles into the same old blah blah.
Somehow, being a ‘perfect Indian girl’ is all that Veronica’s aim transforms into from that of being a fashion photographer. The carefully crafted bits and pieces of the liberated girl that Veronica portrays in front of the world gradually make way for the demure and weeping-at-the-drop-of-a-hat Meera of Diana Penty. The order of the world is restored and points are proven – ‘good’ girls get men (no matter how lascivious and promiscuous <i>they</i> might be, and excuse me for not using asterixed words), and the ‘bad’ ones are left to rot till eternity – unmarried, uncared for and unlooked at by men like Saif’s Gautam!
Honestly, when will Bollywood be able to provide us with a true entertainer – something like a ‘Kahaani’ or a ‘Vicky Donor’ perhaps, and help us break free from the shackles of morality, amorality and immorality? Enduring two and a half hours of a callow juvenile film, which portrayed itself as one that tries to delve into the deeper recesses of human relationships, is an indomitable feat. And people who had gone into theatres expecting <i>something</i> better, something different, were, supposedly, met with a huge setback.
The Hindi film industry, at the age of a hundred, is well past its prime. Perhaps it is time the age of sensible cinema was re-ushered into the country. Parallel cinema is sure an inspiration that our new age directors can imbibe from. And yes, there’s the good ol’ Hollywood that has always been subtly borrowed from and blatantly copied from. Cinema from other parts of the world can also serve as ample eye-openers for this breed of directors who come up with films like this, that are staunchly entrenched in solid patriarchy.
Whatever be a feasible solution, this age can do without films like ‘Cocktail’. We are already twelve years into the twenty first century. Dragging those regressive thoughts that India is so famous for and painting the silver screen black with them is simply not an option. And dear Imtiaz Ali, try something different, for once!