Time was when popular or commercial Indian cinema, Hindi films, in particular, were called the masala movies. Masala films to denote the fact that the film had all spices – a bit of action, drama, romance, comedy and thrill. Sometimes an element of supernatural or a story about reincarnation to add a few more spices. All of these led to the popularization of the term ‘pot-boiler’, a film created with the primary and only intent to earn money and keep the pots boiling at home.
But with time scripts evolved, understatement became the norm and writers and directors started creating content to appeal to the millennial and Gen-Z fans. Especially since 2010, the sheer range and depth of films that have been made across Hindi and regional cinemas is mind-boggling. And one fact that shines out in the production houses’ choice of movies and overall quality is that we have moved closer to international cinema in terms of our genre choices, production values and craft.
Where romance and action films reigned supreme in the 1990s and early 2000s, the 2010s were all about comedy, drama and thrillers. From Udaan to Paan Singh Tomar, Kahani to Vicky Donor, Masaan, Queen and Gangs of Wasseypur, Ship of Thesus, The Lunchbox to regional hits like Bahubali, K.G.F, Drishyam, Court or Pariyerum Perumal, the blog post can’t do justice to the sheer cinematic brilliance that has been uncovered in the past couple of years.
Unlike the past, you can’t stereotype Indian films or Bollywood for that matter. You can’t peg the movies made into a type. There are low-budget but high content films with amazing storylines, photography and acting.
And how can one miss the rise of biopics? This genre has seen a comeback like no other, ranging from Mary Kom, Milkha Singh, M.S.Dhoni Sanjay Dutt and Prime Minister Modi, the audiences love a good inspirational tale, much like the West.
Technology and production
Indian film producers are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the technique and craft of their films is as cutting-edge as possible. Belonging to the largest cinema hubs in the world, film production companies in India don’t’ spare any expense when it comes to the technology, crew and cast. The 2018 Tamil film 2.0 featuring Rajnikanth had an estimated budget of Rs. 570 crore, making it the most expensive Indian film to date.
The filmmakers and cinematographers visited specialist studios in the US to research filming techniques for 3D shoots as the movie has been released both in conventional and 3D format. Reuters had even commented, “2.0 has the look and feel of a big-ticket Hollywood production, and that alone is worth the price of the ticket.”
In terms of the sheer scale and film craft, we have had many other examples like Bahubali, Padmaavat, Manikarnika, Tanhaji – The Unsung Warrior among recent hits. Partly the reason why historical dramas or period films have seen a spike in popularity owing to the research, planning and pre and post production finesse required.
Classifying Indian films under one genre is tough even now but the way we are edging closer to Hollywood values, we may have a spate of superhero films and apocalyptic stories in the years to come.