22 September, 2011

Demystifying Indian Cinema

Last week's #MTOS proved to be quite a revelation for me. When asked why Indian cinema was not as popular around the world as compared to say Korean, majority of the tweeters suggested that excessive dance and music along with thin plot lines was the primary reason. There apparently seems to be a misconception that all that Indian cinema produces is "musicals".

Being a proud Indian and a strong supporter of Indian cinema I decided to make a list of movies that either have no dance/song sequences or if they do, it is rather limited.

Now, before I go ahead with the list there are a few points I would like to state;

For me the term Bollywood is quite derogatory. It's a term that is unfortunately used by the people in the industry itself and by journalists, but what it does is mirror the industries western counterpart rather than stating its own individualistic identity.

Also, for the sake of conversation, when I mention Indian Cinema I'm primarily talking about Hindi Cinema. The Indian Film Industry is huge, producing hundreds of movies in a number of regional languages, but my viewing of Indian cinema has till now been limited to Hindi Films.

Lastly, although everyone has the right to their own opinion, but I feel that having 10-15 minutes of song and dance is a two hour plus movie doesn't necessarily make it a musical. As an Indian I can tell you that music and dance are part of our lives and keeping that in mind movies simply reflect our society to an extent.

The reason for this list is not because I think Indian films should be song and dance free. It is merely to showcase that our cinema is extremely diverse and if you look into it a little harder you are likely to find some amazing cinematic gems. I respect everyone's choices and if you in general don't like movies with songs and dance, that is fair. But, to generalize an entire industry based on a misconception would be a great loss for cinema.

So, have a read through the list. I did not describe the movies partly because it's rather hard to explain every film, even briefly, and also the fun part about cinema is discovering new films. So I've done the hard part for you and compiled the list, now all you have to do, if interested, is Google/IMDB the movies and give them a try. I guarantee that you will think differently of Indian cinema after watching a few of these movies.

I would obviously love to hear your thoughts before and after the viewings. In fact, if anyone would love to do a guest post for my blog based on their viewings from this list, I'll be more than delighted.

I would also like to thank Mr. Anish Trivedi (@anish_trivedi) who helped me with the list.

The following downloadable list is in no particular order whatsoever;

Indian Movies without (or with very few) Song and Dance Sequences


  1. Thanks for your effort. I never knew you were an India. Wooh! Can you tell me what is like there? Do you the streets always crowded with film crews and actress. I also heard that you cinema produces more films than in other countries. Is that true?

    You said earlier that Indian Cinema is diverse and one of them is Hindi Film. Are there another categories?

    If so, where does "Three Idiots" and "Ghajini" fits?

    PS: I really like Three Idiots despite having a 3 hour runtime. :]

  2. Hi Ben.

    Thanks. Yes I am very much an Indian. As for finding cinema on the streets, unfortunately not. I think it is more common in Mumbai (Bombay) than in Delhi where I live. Also street filming becomes very difficult in India because you have to control the crowds which can be a problem for the people making the movie. But, we are a cinema CRAZY nation without a doubt.

    Yes, Indian Cinema does produce more movies than any other film industry. I am not sure but the number is somewhere around 400 a year (I think).

    Indian cinema is diverse in the sense that most regions have their own smaller cinema industries. So there is Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali and so on. Most of these are regional specific, but hindi cinema is viewed almost throughout the country.

    3 Idiots and Gajini fall under Hindi Cinema which is now popularly known as Bollywood. Although Gajini is a remake of a regional film (can't remember which region) that was a massive hit and thus it was made in Hindi with different stars.

    I personally did not like 3 idiots, but it was a huge hit in India.

    Thank you and feel free to ask me anything regarding Indian Cinema and I will try to answer it to the best of my knowledge.

  3. This is a great post Raghav and it's great that you've cleared up this confusion. As far as Indian cinema goes I've only seen Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy (which I loved), so I should probably look into finding some more.

  4. Thanks Tyler. I strongly recommend trying some more films. If you don't mind the song/dance sequences then the list of movies to recommend are endless. Do let me know what you think.

  5. (Just googled your country)

    I never knew India has states. You must be very prosperous countries. No wonder you can fund blockbuster movies.

    Why not? I thought 3 Idiots was brilliant both in content and presentation. As for here, the Philippines, all of us admired 3 Idiots. Our teacher even recommends it to us.

  6. Hi Ben, Yes we have a whole lot of states. As for prosperous, we are to an extent but we have our own set of problems from poverty and corruption to terrorism and castism. But Cinema plays a very important form of entertainment in our country. It is almost one thing that unites the country (except for when controversial films are made).

    As for 3 Idiots I think it's a good film, but I found it a tad over the top. The whole delivery scene is just too weird. It has it's moments but I lost interest in it midway and just as a whole did not enjoy it. But, i'm in the minority as almost everyone loves that movie in India.