In the West, people laugh at Bollywood's formula films: Farrukh Dhondy

Stating that Bollywood actors are popular only amongst the Indian diaspora in Britain, Indian-origin British author and scriptwriter Farrukh Dhondy says that the formula films churned out by the Hindi film industry "don't work in th

Saturday, January 11, 2014 | 1:08:03 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Scriptwriter Farrukh DhondyStating that Bollywood actors are popular only amongst the Indian diaspora in Britain, Indian-origin British author and  says that the formula films churned out by the Hindi film industry "don't work in the West".

Dhondy has written screenplays for film and television, including "Split Wide Open" (1999) and "Mangal Pandey: The Rising" (2005).

"You can make Indian films like 'Slumdog Millionaire' today which can absolutely work and win Oscars, but Bollywood's mentality of having a particular formula just doesn't work in the West...people laugh at it," Dhondy told IANS on the sidelines Friday of the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival 2014.

"They can't take the style of acting," he said.

The award-winning author's 2013 book "Prophet Of Love" was launched Friday at the festival. His earlier novel "The Bikini Murders", based on the notorious serial killer Charles Sobhraj of Indo-Vietnamese origin, the novel would be adapted to the big screen at the end of 2014.

"It would be possibly an Anurag Kashyap film...possibly by the end of this year."Dhondy explained that Indian superhero films (like the "Krrish" series) do not find many takers among Western audiences as they are based on Indian mythologies and not because they are incompetent.

Whereas Hollywood films based on comics are a hit with the Indian audiences because the "upper class elite watch movies like these".

He pointed out the contradictions with reference to off-beat films.

"The films that I was associated with like 'Salaam Bombay', 'Mississippi Masala' and others were watched only by a niche audience in India," he said.However, he noted there is no need for Indian filmmakers to adapt to the West and aim for the Oscars.

"No, if there's an audience that watches films...the film industry is a thriving thing. Why would you want to travel...why would Shah Rukh Khan want to be popular in America? I mean if he's popular in America, then he wouldn't be popular in India."

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Posted on: 13 January 2014 at 5:29am
India has a culture that is historic and untouched from western influence which is probably why it is unique. The preservation of the culture transcends into the film industry of India which is only fair because movies are a depiction of the people, sometimes rather exaggerated and bit far fetched but a depiction nonetheless. Audiences need to realize that what may be unrealistic in the west (Ex. Fifty-something random people dancing to a synchronized rhythm behind the main lead) is perfectly normal in India, what maybe over dramatization of situations in western societies is an expected reaction in eastern societies. From food to marriage to clothing, Indian lifestyle is very different from its western counter parts thus maybe a bit overwhelming when you witness the difference for the first time on screen. You need to have a bit of cultural familiarity in order to enjoy a movie from the other side of the world. If not culture familiarity then an open mind would do too.

I guess East has finally met West but they dont like what the other has to offer.

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Posted on: 12 January 2014 at 10:45pm
I honestly hate Bollywood movies. I hardly come across good ones. They are just so silly !

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Posted on: 12 January 2014 at 1:04pm
i hate when the Bollywood industry tries to adapt to styles from the West, I don't enjoy them at all. We can see movies nowadays that attempt to trend towards a Western style storyline, but we can see that that's not being taken well at all among the Indian population not only in India but throughout the world. Bollywood has made great movies in the past because they stick to trying to attract the Indian population and play on Indian mythologies and things that we know well. If they take that away, there's nothing great about Bollywood that distinguishes it from the rest of the world's movies. Let Western movies be for Western people and those that enjoy it abroad..keep Bollywood as the Hindi film industry and attract those people, too. Stop trying to change it up and attract more of the Western side, and this is coming from someone living there itself.

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Posted on: 12 January 2014 at 9:49am
Depends on the movie, some movies are tacky, have overacting and some even have racist overtones in them, some are rip off from other movies not necessarily from Hollywood. Indian movies need original story telling, I don't see the needs to copy other movies, if the story is good then everything follows.

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Posted on: 12 January 2014 at 2:58am
HOLLYWOOD HIT movie "Moulin Rouge" was inspired from a "BOLLYWOOD MOVIE"

Baz Luhrmann said "Catherine Martin (production designer and Luhrmann's wife) and I went to India to work on "Midsummer Night's Dream." We went out one night and there was a big poster up for a Bollywood movie. I said, "Let's go see that." We did - 2,000 audience members, high comedy, high tragedy, brother kills brother, [they] break out in some musical numbers, all jumbled up together in 4 hours of Hindi. We thought that was amazing. So our question was, "Could we create a cinematic form like that? Could a musical work?" A musical must be able to work in western culture again, and could it be comic-tragic? So then began this commitment of moving toward "Moulin Rouge."

Edited on:12 January 2014 at 2:57am

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Posted on: 11 January 2014 at 10:53pm
He sounds illogical. SRK can't be popular in India if he is popular in the US? How are theses two mutually exclusive??

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Posted on: 11 January 2014 at 10:09pm
they both respectively unique in their own way, sometimes u like watch a good hollywood move and other times u just want t relax with SRK acting.
although all time favourite is bollywood

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Posted on: 11 January 2014 at 9:51pm
I won't deny that most westerners laugh but there are plenty of other non-Indians like myself that have grew up with the Indian industry and love it and find it to be really unique and to me personally surpass many Western movies on a whole another scale. whoever laugh its just ignorance and not an essential willingness to accept something new as a whole. but i feel as of late that the Indian industry (some not all) are trying to appeal to the Western approach and there should be no need to do so. im tired of everything seeming to have to be compared to the Western standpoint. there has been so many memorable movies i have watched that have surpassed in quality, music, storytelling, and character wise that are Indian or from another Asian nationality as a whole so i completely agree that the Oscar standpoint shouldn't be something one tries to reach for.

Edited on:11 January 2014 at 9:53pm

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Posted on: 11 January 2014 at 5:55pm
They can laugh but ply after they stop making craps films which we keep seeing on TV.. We love our movies and they are made for Indians..

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Posted on: 11 January 2014 at 8:42am
Agree! I don't think he is saying Indian movies are worse of neither is he making any comparison. The keywords here are 'West', 'Laugh at' and 'Formula Films'. I don't think he denies the fact either that indian film industry is thriving. In fact read a recent FT article on how hollywood studios like Disney are investing more on bollywood as there is a huge market potential in this industry. But the truth is it remains confined within the Indians (including some NRIs) and not watched by pure westerners. I am from UK and have traveled many countries and I know for sure that westerners "laugh" at indian movies due to the random dances in parks and around trees kinda stuff but they do appreciate the colorful bright scenes especially the female generations die for those costumes (mainly the arab girls). Yet can we say that Indian movies are widely acceptable by the globe like french or korean or japanese movies despite the language barriers?

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