By MEHER MASALAWALA
May 11, 2017
“Love. Career. Passion. Struggle. Music. Essentially the recipe for any good musical and La La Land has prepared it well.”
Did La La Land do Bollywood better?
The short answer? No.
The long answer? * takes deep breath *
Hollywood musicals and Bollywood musicals are not the same. Firstly, most Bollywood movies are not considered musicals they are movies which include song and dance numbers which has become the standard format for South Asian viewers, so much so, that making a movie without song sequences is considered a huge financial risk. There are some, like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, A Wednesday, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion, that can get away with background music and be appreciated, but the majority of the audience expects some sort of musical number when buying a movie ticket.
Western musicals are a seamless musical story that is entirely weaved using songs with a few scenes to provide a break, like Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain, Grease, Aladdin, Lion King, etc.
La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle, has actually implemented the typical Bollywood formula of constructing a film with a good balance of song to scene. It is a movie with a nuanced plot that is accompanied and adorned with songs to convey an idea or a characters feelings or opinions.
The stereotypical idea of a Bollywood film is that of an over the top film that has colorful and highly energized songs that may or may not have much to do with the story.
Yes, there are many films like this, like Shahrukh Khan’s Happy New Year, and the audience that watches them is looking for an uplifting good time, but that is not all that there is.
The stereotypical idea of a Bollywood film is that of an over the top film that has colorful and highly energized songs.
There are many dramas which are “commercially successful”, contain songs, may or may not even involve dancing but are 100% Bollywood in their treatment because they are entertaining and convey a beautiful story and no element of the film is an unnecessary-just-for-kicks addition.
Mughal-e-Azam, Guide, Pyaasa, Amar Prem, Khamoshi, and recently Piku, Barfi, Queen, just to name a few, not only have beautiful music but are classic examples of an unmatched cinematic experience and we have been making them for some time and continue to do so.
Love. Career. Passion. Struggle. Music. Essentially the recipe for any good musical and La La Land has prepared it well. What starts off as a typical musical of a girl in a big city trying to make it, develops into an illusive yet realistic love story between a boy and girl, both of whom are stubbornly in pursuit of their dreams while navigating Los Angeles.
In La La Land, we are started off with a sunny dance number in a tight traffic jam on top of a California highway and it is a choreographic feat but Indian actors have been dancing on planes, trains, cars, historical monuments and snow capped mountain peaks (in a chiffon saree and heels, mind you) for a century.
The movie is enjoyable and will appeal to people who generally aren’t too fond of musicals since it is not completely reliant on song to convey story and meaning. The best part of the film is its heartening ending that elevates it to a level that truly made it Oscar nomination worthy.
However, Western society has much more to learn from us than just yoga.