The strange ‘genres’ of Hindi cinema – Part 1

It is said that Hollywood makes films only in one genre i.e. Romance; everything else is a subset of that. There are romantic comedies, romantic thrillers, romantic action adventures and even romantic creature films, because at the centre of every story, there has to be a love plot. This is pretty much exactly how Hindi films work too, except we have some unique ‘genres’ of our own.

The NRI Film: A type of film popularised in the ’90s, when the likes of the Chopras and the Johars discovered that movie tickets in the UK sell in pounds and the owners of those pounds still have that same image of India in their minds, as they had when they left decades ago. As a result, the staples of this genre became ‘Sweeping shots of mustard fields’, ‘Loud female characters who learn to embrace Indian values and reject western evils like identity, individuality and freedom’, ‘A stereotypical head-strong patriarch whose stereotypical strong-will is no match for the stereotypical true power of stereotypical love’, and of course ‘Shah Rukh Khan’.

The Launch Vehicle: Nepotism has brought many evils into Indian society. But none as vile as the star son launch vehicle. It is widely known that having a parent in the Hindi film industry renders a child incapable of higher education or vocational learning. As a result, once the kid has lost 60 kg of his or her baby weight at the age of 25, the father pulls a lifetime’s worth of contacts and favours to produce for him or her, the ultimate buffet of a movie. ‘Foreign locations’, ‘Ex-Miss India winners’, ‘Double roles’, ‘Motorcycles’ and ‘Gym memberships’ are some staples of this genre.

The Clones: Every now and then, Hindi film audiences are spoilt for choice when multiple movies made on the same subject release at the same time. This most famously happened in 2002 when we had 3 biopics on Bhagat Singh. It’s happening even now, as currently up to 4 filmmakers are apparently making Hindi movie adaptations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and 2 biopics are being made on Charles Sobhraj. Whether these scenarios are caused by fallouts within teams or mischievous screenwriters, this phenomenon isn’t just restricted to Hindi cinema alone. Even the history of Hollywood is full of examples of what they call ‘Twin films’.

Check out: while you wait for part 2 of The strange ‘genres’ of Hindi cinema.

[The views expressed here are the author's own.]


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