- At times it really bugs me that the early history of Indian film is so hard to access - I think the earliest films available are from 1940's, maybe a few select earlier films available on DVD or as archived material (you can only access by going to India). Compare this to what you can get your hands on from the silent era of European film, or Hollywood, or Scandinavian film. It's a huge, rich context we're quite simply missing out on, and can only really read about in books and by seeing still photographs of movies.
- Addendum: why this bugs me especially is because of the difference of Hindi film's history compared to other cinemas. The influences are different. The style is different. The context is obviously unique. Regarding the influences, I've read and heard Parsi theater, other folk theater traditions and Sanskrit aesthetics (the entire 'rasa' theory) cited as heavy influence. In a way, not being able to discuss early cinema with the voice of experience (or rather, just having seen some of these damn movies!) feels like I'm missing a very vital link. You know, I don't know if I would be interested in watching 30+ Sulochana movies or a dozen mythological silent movies, but I'd at least like to have the opportunity to do so. Basically, to see the continuity clearer from past cinema to modern cinema, would be nice, even if just to justify some of the things that make Bollywood as it is: when somebody disgards the films as overly dramatic, I could simply say, "Look, this is the tradition over there. This is the preference of the audience, throughout the ages. Why do you assume they'd be making movies according to your tastes?"
- I feel awfully embarrassed because as much as I love Guru Dutt, I've seen such a rare few of his films. The big ones, sure, and I have Mr & Mrs 55 in the mail, arriving next week and will get to it eventually, but in comparison to my other favourites on the oldie front, it's just embarrassing. Then again, to be honest, I do find it easier to watch a nice 70's film than a 50's/60's masterpiece. There is something wrong with me like that. (By the way, if you recommend me Guru Dutt films - please do - I'd prefer ones with him as an actor, not the director.)
- Don't you love the romanticized tragic on-screen/off-screen jodi's of the 50's? I'm talking Raj Kapoor-Nargis, Madhubala-Dilip Kumar and of course, Guru Dutt-Waheeda Rehman. I think out of the three, only Madhubala-Dilip is confirmed - they did date, her family didn't approve, there was a court hassle over a movie, and then they broke up, and the romanticized version of the story goes, she never stopped loving him to the event of her untimely death. Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt were married men, which makes the alleged romances with their most popular on-screen partners slightly less romantic but tragic all the same (especially Guru and Waheeda - I'm really surprised they weren't in speaking terms while filming Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam because that was my first film with the two and I adored their chemistry to pieces).
- Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi - a movie I ought to see more like, and a movie you ought to see, period.
- Does it ever bother anybody else that as a fan, you sometimes latch onto historically inconsequential (or maybe just-not-all-that-important) stars and films? I know I'll read and learn about 70's Hindi films, I probably won't hear a word about Vinod Khanna, and am probably lucky to hear about Dharmendra or Hema Malini unless the subject is Sholay (which the subject very well should be!). On the other hand, in the modern times, I feel like my favourites, especially in terms of movies, are the ones most people will remember in 10 years' time. It's odd.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Miscellanous thoughts on the history of Bollywood, Part 1.
I won't go into detail on what inspired this post; let's just say I've been learning about these things as of late.