Bollywood teen flicks fail to excite
May 13, 2007 - 6:23:29 PM
New Delhi, May 13 - India with a 110 million people in the age group of 15-19 years has reasons to complain against its film industry that churns out the world's highest number of movies annually - especially when they are served with films like 'Good Boy Bad Boy'.
The Mumbai studio-based filmdom, Bollywood, may well be the flavour of the season the world over and the fountainhead of entertainment in India, but it rarely depicts trials and tribulations of the bourgeoning teen population of the country.
Even in terms of on-screen depiction, there are no teen stars around. Nearly all Bollywood's A-list stars - both female and male - are 30 plus. In fact, the stars in super league including Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir khan have crossed 40 and one of them is in his 60s.
In the West, teen movies are a genre. Set on campus, most of them are coming-of- age movies or the more recent trend of slayer flicks using all the stereotypes like the jock, prom queen, ugly girl, cheerleader, nerd, and so on.
While countless love stories like 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' told on Indian celluloid have the college campus as a take-off point, especially for group songs and establishing boy-meet-girl scenarios, rarely do films cover every aspect of growing up.
Off late, filmmakers in Mumbai are aping teen flicks of Hollywood and the end result is that the teen in India are being depicted as youths preoccupied with sex all the time. Percept Picture Company's forthcoming film 'Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar' -, about first kiss, falls in the same category.
While raging hormones and sexual anxiety are a reality, the Indian teen is also caught up in a rigid educational system with rapidly changing social norms.
This week's release- 'Good Boy Bad Boy' - is a classic example of even well meaning filmmakers falling prey to their own contorted notions of youth of India. Though the film is not as brazen as sex-comedies like 'Style', 'Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai' and 'Raghu More Bachelor Of Hearts', it tends to over simplify the college life.
Starring Emraan Hashmi, Tusshar Kapoor, Isha Sharvani, Tanushree Dutta and Paresh Rawal, director Ashwini Chaudhary's film is about good girl meeting bad boy and bad girl meeting good boy only later to realise that good girl wants bad boy to become good, and bad girl wants good boy to turn bad.
And the college principal is a bumpkin who not only divides the entire college into sections for 'the good' and 'the bad', but has his own little exams to distinguish the good from the bad - the 'goods' can solve PC-related problems or answer queries pertaining to 'Karl Marx' and the 'bads' are those who can tell you how to send an MMS. Surely, Indian teens deserve a better on-screen depiction.
Music channel MTV had recently conducted a poll to find the icon of India's youth. Contrary to expectations that youth would vote in a dapper like John Abraham, the winner was business tycoon Anil Ambani.
Clearly, the urban teens are smart, well rounded, socially committed and almost all are career oriented.
There has been no memorable youth movie that covers every aspect of the growing up. Aspects like generation gap, peer pressure, class and status-linked friction, sexual doubts, image problems, cultural confusion, and a whole youth subculture, which our films have not even touched upon.
At one time, a few films like 'Jawani Deewani', 'Ehsaas' and 'Bulundi' had scratched the surface. Recent college campus-based hit film - 'Rang De Basanti' - came closer than any other to depicting the picture of real youth but it needed a 42-year-old Aamir to prop it up. Also missing in the film were career-oriented characters.
Another Aamir-starrer 'Dil Chahta Hai' was hailed as the great teen movie but it was solely about rich kids who only had romantic problems to grapple with. In recent times, films like 'Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi' did deal with the aspirations of middle class youth in small towns in their own way, but they remained niche movies.
A notable exception was Mansoor Khan's 'Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander', starring Aamir, which captured the fun and travails of growing up years.
The paucity of young stars in Bollywood is a major factor restricting filmmakers from making youth-oriented movies. No new star has emerged in Bollywood even after dime-a-dozen talent hunts. Actors without connections in Bollywood have an even more uphill task.
Recently, Aditi Sharma and Sarwar Ahuja, who won Zee TV's talent show 'Zee Cinestars Ki Khoj', got a rare chance to star in 'Khanna & Iyer'. The quality of the two star wannabes notwithstanding, they did not even have a fighting chance given the poor script and nearly no publicity.
'Say Salaam India', which also released recently, featured a number of new faces but its distributors, Adlabs, did not invest much in publicity of the film. Though the unfortunate ouster of Team India from the cricket World Cup had a bigger role in the cricket-based film going largely unnoticed.
The dependence of the entire filmdom on half-a-dozen saleable stars and even a lesser number of production houses is bad economics and till that gap is filled we will have to bear watching Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan masquerading as college-goers.
Star wannabes with Bollywood family connections are waiting in the wings. All eyes are on Neil Mukesh, son of Nitin Mukesh and grandson of legendary singer Mukesh, who will make his debut in 'Johnny Gaddar'.
Soniya Mehra, daughter of late actor Vinod Mehra, will also bow in Bollywood with Anant Mahadevan's 'Victoria No 203' remake. Mithun Chakraborty's son Mimoh's film is also ready for release.
Anil Kapoor's daughter Sonam will debut with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Saawariya'. She stars opposite Ranbir, son of yesteryears hit actors Rishi and Neetu Kapoor. Ranbir is already being looked up to as the next big star of young India.
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