04 March 2013

"Lincoln" Vs Bollywood: Movies and Idealism

Steven Spielberg's Lincoln has a misleading title. A more accurate title would have been Amendment 13. For that is what the movie is really about – the 13th amendment to America's constitution, that abolished slavery (in 1865). But the central figure is still President Abraham Lincoln, played by Daniel Day-Lewis. Day-Lewis' Lincoln is an idealist, a man of lofty ideals. But he is also a realist, a practical man. He realises that to achieve those lofty ideals, it is sometimes necessary to use not-so-lofty means. He is a simple and humble man. But he is also a powerful man – a man who is aware of his power, and is willing to use that power to achieve what he thinks is right. Tommy Lee Jones is superb as the liberal Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, who pushes the amendment through the House. The debates in the House are the best scenes of the movie, with some powerful dialogues (written by Tony Kushner). Lincoln is about idealism. It is about freedom, justice and doing what is right. A movie about the President who freed America's blacks – when the country has its first black President. Can it get more poetic?

In a TV program, Bollywood producer/director Karan Johar said that Lincoln was "boring", and he had "fallen asleep" while watching it. Lincoln got 12 Oscar nominations, and won 2 Oscar awards. Spielberg's previous films include Schindler's List, Amistad and Munich. I am sure Johar found them also boring, and slept through them too. He, on the other hand, has given us all-time cinematic masterpieces like Kuch kuch hota hai, Kabhi khushi kabhi gham, Kabhi alvida na kehna, My name is Khan and Student of the year.

The difference in quality between Spielberg and Johar apart, there is a larger point here. For Bollywood, love means only romantic love. Is there no other kind of love? What about love of one's country? For Bollywood, the only thing in the world worth falling in love with is a good-looking woman/man. Is there nothing else? What about ideals like freedom, justice and equality? Are they not worth loving? Are they not worth living for, fighting for and dying for? Every guy tells his girlfriend that he will die for her, but how many have actually done that? On the other hand, history is drenched with the blood of the crores of men and women who gave their lives for their country and their ideals. Yet Bollywood prides itself on churning out boy-meets-girl flicks (with the boy and girl singing and dancing around trees). The pinnacle of this industry's achievement is Salman Khan starrers that gross Rs 100 crore at the box office. As for the smug and pompous Karan Johar, he will earn my respect the day he makes a picture that moves me and inspires me – like Lincoln.

1 comment:

Divyanand said...

Great point. Another aspect is the focus of Bollywood, Sandalwood & other xxx-woods of India is romance of 18~22 year olds. These are mostly students (done by actors thrice the age).
What about rest of the age groups? And their professions? Why these Indiawoods don't address them?