From silence to melodramatic phrases, from shades of grey to scenes camouflaged in rain and neon dresses, Indian cinema has grown in leaps and bounds with its varied colors, extravaganza and music. It has moved way beyond its identity of bag of just spicy films and the romance amidst the mustard fields, painting the ethnic diversity of the land on the silver canvas. A color of every mood and a color for every occasion are the underlying mantra at Bollywood, a case of art imitating life and vice versa. Often captured in the word ‘kitsch’, Bollywood offers its audience a versatile view into the lives and times of the screen idols.
The mid nineties stapled Punjab as a hit formula with evergreens like DDLJ and the early twenties replaced it with romance in the landscapes of Switzerland winter. However, the filmmakers these days have been feeding a generous dose of the varied ethnic culture to the consumers of Bollywood representing the essence of diversity of the country, giving the plots and storyboard its much needed depth. With net dopattas in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam to the aesthetically fresh three layered ghagra choli in Ram-Leela, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has depicted the Gujarati grandeur at it best with the base palette of red and white symbolic of the tussle between Ram and Leela as they campaign for peace amidst the blood-call of revenge. Actors and actresses on silver canvas adorn costumes and looks that are grander, larger and more beautiful than ordinary day-to-day attires. There is nothing understated when it comes to translating the celebration of life on to the screen.
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s golden classics like Parineeta, Devdas kept alive the Bengali influence till the recent hits such as Kahani, Lootera and Gunday portraying the mystique of the state, embossing the essence of the celebrations in its labyrinthine lanes. The splendor of the palaces, nawabs, Urdu poetry, classical music, and mujra seems to be personal favorite of the Indian directors. From the time immemorial, the backdrop of Lucknow has been gracing the canvas for creations like Pakeeza to the recent Dedh Ishiqiya portraying the adab of the people of the time.
Anurag Basu’s Barfi! and Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express painted the east and south on the canvas of Indian Cinema. While Basu enchanted us with the slice of Darjeeling, Shetty gifted the nation with foot tapping combo of lassi and coconut as a tribute to the ‘thaliva’ of the south. There was a gist of ethnicity in the language spoken with fluency which was supported by the colorful costumes with traditional dance moves becoming the cherry on the top. The creations on this canvas continue to blend the traditional culture and vividness of the Indian society. The tint of contemporary social issues completes the mix exactly hitting at the viewers sweet spot.
It can be easily believed that empire waists and animal dresses may go out of fashion but the color and celebration that has come to mean Bollywood will never ever leave the Indian psyche, by successfully captivating the imagination of the world. With portrayal of the grandeur of the Indian ethnicity through their films, one can’t help but be seduced by the glitter, glamour and gala of the ever young Indian Film Industry.