Bollywood Unplugged by Derek Bose

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Derek Bose
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Bollywood Unplugged

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Book review

In keeping with the rising popularity of Hindi cinema abroad, a new book on the film industry, ‘Bollywood Unplugged – Deconstructing Cinema in Black and White’. The 144-page coffee tabler provides a rare insight into aspects of form (from camerawork to use of sound, editing and special effects) and content (creation of drama, story-telling, acting, music and songs and dances) which are peculiar to Bollywood cinema. “This is the first book of its kind that analyses all the elements that go into contemporary Hindi filmmaking,” claims the author, Derek Bose, a senior journalist and filmmaker. “While much has been written on Hollywood cinema, even on Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, there is nothing on Bollywood beyond a few books on film history and biographies.” Profusely illustrated with stills from landmark films since Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra to the latest Mallika Sherawat starrers, here is a chance for the reader to live the dreams of many lifetimes with tales of heroism and cowardice, love and hate, justice and equity and of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, which make for the ‘magical realism’ Hindi mainstream cinema offers. According to Bose, the book was prompted by the several misconceptions on Bollywood, particularly among Indians settled abroad wanting to make the “crossover” with films like American Desi, Guru and Bollywood Dreams. “These films have failed miserably, primarily because of the inability of the filmmakers at capturing the spirit of a typical Hindi potboiler.” Bose points out that even among Indians aspiring to make a career in cinema, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about Bollywood’s voluptuous aesthetic traditions, extravagant celebrations of glamour, pomp and spectacle, persistent devotion to mythology, its slavish reliance on songs and dances, convenient coincidences, larger-than-life characters and happy endings. “All that I am saying is that one does not have to be apologetic about Bollywood cinema any longer,” Bose reiterates. “Just as low-budget, experimental films hold a place of pride in Indian culture, big-budget, multi-star entertainers are equally relevant in our lives.”

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