A Bollywood Experience

One day while in Varanasi to escape the heat, we decided to go to the multiplex. I love movies and wanted to see a Bollywood film when in India. I wanted to experience it first hand since I knew how seriously India took its movies.

Indians treat the situation like Americans treat going to a concert.

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When you by a ticket you have an assigned seat. How much your willing to pay for the movie decides where you will sit. Like the caste system decides your station in life it can decide where you sit in the theater.Those with less money won’t get the prime seating. Every section is assigned a server who brings you food and drinks.

Basically catering to your needs while you enjoy the movie.

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When I was at the theater my friend accompanying me was from Rajastan and when I explained how in the U.S. we all pay the same price and sit wherever you want, the concept was lost on him. He was appalled that anyone can just sit anywhere. In India you get what you pay for. The more expensive the seat the better the view and  service. The better seats actually come with a waitress.To give you an idea how important movies are to India:

“Fourteen million Indians go to the movies on a daily basis (about 1.4% of the population of 1 billion) and pay the equivalent to the average Indian’s day’s wages (US $1-3) to see any of the over 800 films churned out by Bollywood each year. That’s more than double the number of feature films produced in the United States.” – An overview of Bollywood

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Recently Bollywood  has began to rival Hollywood in the amount of movies it produces every year. What makes Bollywood films unique?

India has a unique culture and their movies reflect that.

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For one public displays of affection in India are taboo, you will never see it happen.  That’s left to us wanton westerners.Their movies never have sex in them and more often then not barely any kissing either. Their culture is traditional and conservative and they like their movies to reflect that. The romances in their films have a Disney like innocence to them.

Western films are often far from reality and very different from our lives. Indians like movies that directly replicate their lives. They like to see things they identify with. Just with a little bit of song and dance thrown in to liven things up.

“Let’s say it’s about passionate love, about romance, which is missing in Hollywood. It is strong on technology but a lot of feelings are gone. People want to cry, they want to laugh in this world. They are searching for these moments. Bollywood is filling these gaps.”BBC.com

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That’s right almost every Bollywood film has a dance number. Regardless of genre there will be a song. They often have nothing to do with the plot but people love it anyway. Indians do enjoy celebrations. Hinduism has countless festivals and ceremonies. Maybe the need to dance and sing in film comes from the constant parties in their day to day lives. This is something that has not really caught on in the states but with movies like “Les Miserables” gaining popularity we might see a change in this.

If you get the chance, check out a Bollywood film. Its a great look at Indian culture and tells you a lot about the psyche of the country. They are a people who deal with a lot of strife day to day but like every song in their movies they see a silver lining to the issue. Its a resilience that echoes in their films and in their history.

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