I was born to a regular Indian family who had an irregular (or quite typical) love for all things Bollywood. My Mom grew up having a Sadhna-cut, while my Dad flaunted a Rajesh Khanna kinda crown - as per the vintage, brown-coloured pictures I’ve seen of the two. Guess they found a perfect match!
It’s obvious I watched a gazillion Bollywood movies through my childhood, though Disney and Nickelodeon would’ve been a finer option, my parents chose otherwise. I very well remember how we used to watch the first day first show of most releases. Matlab the guy at the box office knew my dad by name, geddit? Though I used to sleep through most of the three-hour-circus, I distinctly remember watching all of Hera Pheri in 2000. I was merely five, but I laughed my heart out and I guess I can call that my first real Bollywood experience. Teen takle one two one two. ROFL.
Over the years I have observed and encountered the impact of Bollywood on our lives. My life can solely be an example of this. Then I started noticing how Indian Cinema has created a universe of its own, an aspirational bubble that every Indian craves to be a part of. Let’s just say that while some movies are inspired from real life events, most real-life events are inspired from movies. Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai ki.. most of India basically walks, talks and gawks Bollywood. Just like me!
If I say “Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi..” and you don’t complete the sentence with “namumkin hai!” how are we even friends?! You see, Bollywood references are like my litmus test for finding soulmates.
Be it fashion or hairstyles, our culture is defined by what the actors wear and do. When Dostana came out in 2008, I swear to God, half of the women I knew had the same haircut! I have friends who’ve told me they’ve gone to the salon and said, “Priyanka-wala haircut chahiye.” (including me). And well, it was a tradition even my parents were a part of, so who was I to deny pop-culture? At least this was better than the Sadhna-cut I had when I was two, thanks but no thanks, Mom.
Apart from this, I and my friends literally use Bollywood dialogues in day-to-day conversations. These references get me going on a gloomy day and if a person gets what movie the dialogue is from, it’s a sign of true love for me. If I say “Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi..” and you don’t complete the sentence with “namumkin hai!” how are we even friends?! You see, Bollywood references are like my litmus test for finding soulmates.
Most romantic movies had heroines dancing in chiffon sarees, on a scenic mountain. And all of us dreamily hoped of doing the same one day. When Jab We Met released, I was lured to visit Manali, Bhatinda and even the drab Ratlam ki galiyan! Just to have a first-hand Geet experience. It didn’t end there, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’s travel diaries were so epic, every place they visited soon became a tourist attraction. Even Ranbir’s choice of the career in the film was inspiring for most.
How can we deny Bollywood’s impact on Indian weddings? It’s like every Bollywood dream anyone has ever had, they bring it to life via their pre-wedding shoot and sangeet function. Hum Saath Saath Hain can be one of the major reasons why families prepare a musical for the newlyweds. In recent times, getting a film made on the entire wedding has become a fad too. At the end of it all, parents be like, “Bano re bano chali sasural ko, ankhiyon mein paani (and debt) de gayi..” :P
On a serious note, Bollywood does have a heavy responsibility to portray some important lessons through its stories, and inspire revolutionary change and not just pop-culture. We’re so star-struck with these movies that we always expect a happy ending. In reality, it’s all fun and games while the actors are dancing the night away, but if they end up instigating violence, jingoism, sexism and racism it’s going to reflect on our society and how!
Luckily the landscape of Bollywood is evolving and we now have stories with a better perspective. Therefore, we trust in you, Bollywood. You have given us a colourful life, inspired us to chase our dreams, given us hope for a better future, made us our own heroes and most of all you have kept us entertained. So thank you, Bollywood.. tu cheez badi hai mast mast!