What I Like About Bollywood Movies

July 22, 2014 — 8 Comments

It’s been a few years since I did a “what I like about” post [1][2], and considering that it’s been one full year since I officially started watching Indian films, I thought it’d be great to look back to see What I Like About Bollywood– pardon me, Indian Films.


1. It’s Indian Films, Not Bollywood

That’s the first thing you’ll learn. It’s okay if you only watch Mumbai-based Hindi films where the Hero dances around trees to get the Heroine, but there’s also SO MUCH MORE… if only it would get subtitled more often.

This is a sorta counter post to my list of Indian movies for people who hate Bollywood.

2. Masala Can Be The Spice of Life

The first time you watch a masala film, you’ll ask yourself WTF is going on. Is this a romance? Is this a comedy? Is this an action film with musical numbers that can -maybe- make you a bit teary? Have I just witnessed a car chase in the name of love? You’ll maybe love it or hate it, but you can’t deny that except for the musical numbers, Marvel is following the successful masala formula (with tweaks: more action, less love, comedy and enough drama) and no one is batting an eyelid.

Once you love a masala, it’ll never be the same.

3. A Star-System to Match the Golden Hollywood Era.

It’s true. I totally underestimated the power of family ties here. Busted. However, in a world where the Movie Star is dying (except for Angelina Jolie- coz she’s a hustler), the Indian Bollywood Star-System still racks the big bucks. Really bad movies with big star names still make loads of money shattering records left and right, while good movies with smaller names barely make it out of disastrous production limbo.

It sounds like it’s really bad (and it is), but I find it a fascinating study. It’s the Indian version of Hollywood’s paradigm of the hot big name franchise that every actor seems to need in order to be -sorta- considered today’s version of a Movie Star. In this case, you need the hot big (last) name to back you up to have the elusive doors of fame open.

Expect Farah Khan’s Happy New Year to break every single record, while being panned by critics. She’ll complain about the critics, the critics will complain about the movie, and we’ll complain about how some movies make more money than others.

But I can’t complain with a system that has given me Rani Mukerji, Vidya Balan and Tabu… among other stars.


While we’re all complaining the music category at American film awards are crap (except for Frozen), the music in an average Indian production can improve in the overall impact of the film (eg. Aashiqui 2 or Raanjhanaa). Despite the lowering numbers of actual big over-the-top excessive musical sequences on films, music still plays a BIG part in these movies.

5. Big Budget Films…

… are regular budgets in Hollywood standards. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram-Leela cost about $6-15M USD (35-80 crores), and looks and is a million times better than something like Identity Thief (with a budget of $35M) or Now You See Me ($75M)… or the European most recent adaptation of their own Romeo and Juliet (by Carlo Carlei at $24M).

Money very damn well spent.

It wouldn’t be hard to believe if big American distributors co-produced more of these to increase distribution for larger profits, than producing a big budget $250M project that will get a ‘dismal’ opening of $50M over a weekend. The industry is about to collapse.

6. And this is a bonus…

You’ll learn to read faster.

When I first started out, I thought Masala subtitles were VERY fast… and this was in English subtitles. I mean, have you actually listen to Shahrukh Khan ramble as Rahul or Raj? Since then, my reading speed has improved, but I’m still unable to read Masala subs in Spanish, whenever I’ve been able to test them out. Spanish words tend to be longer, and they have to subtitle the added English on top of the Hindi, so that’s about 10-20% more per random subtitle line.

Sighs. In a world filled with so much negativity, Indian films (and that includes Bollywood) make me happy. Is that so much to ask for nowadays?

So what about you? What do YOU like about Bollywood and Indian films?

8 responses to What I Like About Bollywood Movies

  1. haha, ditto my thoughts after seeing Avengers! I thought ‘hey, Hollywood Masala movie! With action, hero-giri/badassery, and “punch” dialogs!’
    (PS – I know my response is 2 years late, just discovered your awesome blog! And I do not use ! after every sentence generally!)

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