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Hindi Films, ‘GOD FORBID!’

Hey guys, you may notice from the title above I used Hindi, not Indian. This is to respect the fact that Indian films comprise far more than Hindi films, just like here in Nigeria, our films comprise more than English or Yoruba films.

In Nigeria, the Indian entertainment we consume though is mainly Hindi films  because they are more popular international than let’s say Tamil films.

Let me pause there before I get into a lengthy lesson on the movie industry in India, and take you on a journey to the late 80s/early 90s when in my childhood, Hindi movies were a rite of passage.

If you did not watch Mard, Toofan, Yeh Vaada Raha or as most people remember it, Sunita etc and were born in the 80s you probably didn’t have a complete childhood in Nigeria. #Justkidding. I cannot really explain it, all I know is that those movies just seemed so wonderful to us then.

Anyway towards the late 90s and early 2000s watching of Hindi films died out and the movies just seemed to fade out of the market, the kids from the 80s grew up, got so used to Hollywood and all of a sudden a mindset was set:

‘Hindi movies are a thing that happened in my childhood, probably because I didn’t know better. Why would I sit down for sometimes as long as 3 hours now and watch folks dance around, ‘GOD FORBID!’

The one thing that had become a trademark and was consistent to their movie industry was their dance numbers and it had suddenly become the bane of the movies to young adults here in Nigeria; especially guys! I know this because I was No 1 on that list.

Fast forward a bit to 2004, I returned home one faithful day & found about fifteen people composing of family, friends and friends of family seated in the living room watching a movie. They seemed so engrossed in it and I wondered, ‘what could these folks be watching?’ so I asked and was told they were watching a Hindi film, this of course produced a hiss and exit from me but unfortunately/fortunately I could not escape the sounds of laughter and excitement emanating from the living room.

Curiosity was biting me in my bones but like every proud young man I waited till everyone had left, picked up the movie, burnt it onto my laptop and returned the CD. I was not going to allow them know this happened! No way!

The title of that movie was Hum Tum starring someone I now consider to be my best actress across all the woods be it Holly, Bolly, or Nolly, Rani Mukherji together with Saif Ali Khan in the lead roles.

The names above may sound like Greek to you as they sounded to me on that day, but I tell you this, after watching that movie it would have only been my ego stopping me from admitting that the movie was really good.

All of a sudden I was interested! Was this how Hindi movies were now? The movie was really different and unexpectedly I got hungry! I wanted to know more and like any movie buff, I sought them out and it looked as if they were back all over the market.

Like any movie industry, I came across the good, the bad and the ugly among them, but there were also the great! These people had come a long way and stepped up their game. I just could not say ‘GOD FORBID!’ anymore.

How could one watch movies like Black, Kuchi Kuchi Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Kal Ho Naa Ho, 3 Idiots, Fanaa, Veer Zaara, Devdas, Ghajini, My name is Khan, just to name a very few and still not appreciate the work they were doing?!

So not to sound like an advocate for Hindi films I’ll say this, let’s try a test:

Get your hands on the above titles, watch them without any prejudice and I can assure you that one of the following will happen:

  • You may become a big fan of them and begin to know their actors and actresses like you know the Hollywood names.
  • You may just watch them occasionally, and may want to skip a few minutes whenever they start singing or come to enjoy the dance numbers.
  • You may still not be interested in watching them ever.

But you’ll have to admit, those guys are doing some really great stuff! and we can learn a bit from them. Only pride will still make you say ‘GOD FORBID!’

N.B: For every one who hears Hindi and has that immediate disgusted mind image of people dancing around in the middle of a movie, let me tell you this, its intentional. They have taken a local tradition and made it so prominent that it has become a genre of dance worldwide.

I’m sure we can learn a thing or two from them about making blockbusters in an environment similar to ours.

So guys what are your thoughts?

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. punkenstein

    1st November 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Lol! Hindi, Indian, Bollywood… still bleh to me mehn!

    Enjoyed 3 Idiots sha…

    • MoviePencil

      1st November 2012 at 9:15 pm

      Mr punkenstein, carry out the test and let’s see the result. Start with Black and walk your way through the above titles. and remember just watch them like they are films (no prejudice)

  2. redletters

    1st November 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I wonder why there’s so much fuss about this,I like 3idiots..for many years my favorite movies were hindi..don’t do movies much any more but I ll sit through a hindi anyday,there religion doesn’t allow it else I think hindis would have done a good job of christian movies..all the praise and dance interlude*laughing*.as far as I know you can comfortably sit through a hindi movies without worrying about obscene scenes..that’s a plus

    • MoviePencil

      1st November 2012 at 9:58 pm

      Haha, why does everyone like 3Idiots!!! Ok, Ok, it was a really good film I admit but it’s not the best to me. Praise and worship, LOL! That’ll have been something

  3. I.tee adejumo

    1st November 2012 at 9:51 pm

    O my! I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the sentence about watching folks dance for 3 hours! Cos those are my exact thoughts about most hindi movies. Enjoyed watching 3idiots and slumdog millionaire though I skipped the dancing parts at some point. They are the two I’ve seen in a long long time.
    Ill carry out your test, let’s hope the result’ll be nice.
    Interesting piece!

    • MoviePencil

      1st November 2012 at 9:59 pm

      I hope the results are nice too. As for Slumdog Millionaire, I consider that a half Hindi movie.

  4. tywo

    2nd November 2012 at 9:27 am

    Hahaha! True. Don’t remember watchin indian- or ‘hindi’ -movies as a kid tho, but they are quite amazin, the bollywood industry. Is it true Hollywood got their name frm Bollywood? So I heard. Yeah, I hav lil or no bias (I’ll say lil) against bollywood productions! :). Wht stands out the most is the good acting, good scripts, & superb video quality. Well done!

    • MoviePencil

      3rd November 2012 at 10:09 pm

      Don’t know about the origin of the name but I’ll check that out. and yes they have really good productions. They seem really serious about their trade just like hollywood is.

  5. Chidera Igweze

    2nd November 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Great write-up as always. Have never been a movie buff since the beginning of time, but I can clearly recollect when Indian movies were the in thing. Of course they have come a long way! There is no gain-saying that. Now if only Nollywood can take a cue….I mean we have been around for over 20 years. Nothing seems to have really changed….perhaps except the faces that still star in those ever-lousy flicks. #My2Kobo

    • MoviePencil

      3rd November 2012 at 10:16 pm

      Ha ha. I know I’m not the biggest fan of the movies churned out in the Nigerian movie industry, but I have to admit that there are a few movies each year that make up a little for the rest. My issue is that it seems they do not realize that movies say a lot about the mindset/thought patterns of those making the movies, and I’m afraid people will just watch the movies and think that’s how Nigerians are.

      Movies are too powerful for them to remain mediocre. The audience perceives too much from them, so we have to step up our game more and stop making mediocre stories with silly acting.

  6. Loretta

    21st May 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Hi,
    I must admit as a bollywood fan I was piqued abt d GOD FORBID header,but as I read on I cudnt help but agree wit all u wrote.I wud rather sit 4 3hrs n watch an Indian movie than a nollywood movie.I mean we are wot 20yrs + into movie makin n it feels lyk we started a year ago.d diff is soooo clr. Even the worse bollywood movie is better than OUR best (that’s my opinion tho).loved all d movies u mentioned above esp DEVDAS.I just love SRK.kudos 2 u MP.

    • MoviePencil

      21st May 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Lol. Thanks dear. Good to hear you like B-Town movies too. My fave is Rani.

      • Nollywood REinvented

        5th June 2013 at 4:17 pm

        So let me repeat what you just said Loretta dear, “we are what 20 years into movie making?” Compare that to Bollywood which just turned a 100 this year. So in 1933 what was Bollywood making?

        You might have a point but please that argument is weak

  7. Nollywood REinvented

    5th June 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Wow you really just said nothing has really changed in over 20 years except the faces? Not to be rude but that’s rich.

    So from that I’m made to believe that Nneka the pretty serpent and Figurine are about the same movie, rattlesnake and the meeting – no difference, living in bondage and the awakening (two fishes in a pond)?

  8. Nollywood REinvented

    5th June 2013 at 4:24 pm

    So let me get back to what I was going to say before I got sidetracked by some of the other ridiculous comments. I completely agree, Bollywood movies are a delight and most people who refuse to watch it based on the argument that it’s all dance and no film are of the same class as those that refuse to watch Nollywood because they are all the same.

    I mean in this era of ‘chak de india’ it’s just plain ignorance to call bollywood 3hrs of dance for pits sake (not accusing you), the movies are way shorter and the dances are well incorporated so it’s no longer the days of DDLJ where they run behind trees in large fields changing costumes every verse.

    Yes we can learn a thing or two about making blockbusters from them and in my opinion that is: stick to what makes you unique and develop on that, stop trying so hard to make western stories

    • MoviePencil

      5th June 2013 at 4:33 pm

      LOL!! It was delightful reading your comments to the others. Now may I say I totally agree, and it was my dislike of the mindset people have towards our movies and the misinformed comments that are sometimes dropped that made me start the Nollywood dilemma series.

      When we can get off our high horse of pride and begin to see our industry as one that’s actually improving or has the right ingredients to, then we can actually care enough to advocate progress.

      No one can cause any improvement while seating back and just engaging in negative talk about our industry.

      At the end of the day, it is OUR industry and no one else’s.

      • Nollywood REinvented

        5th June 2013 at 4:40 pm

        “At the end of the day, it is OUR industry and no one else’s.” <— hmm, I've used that line before. That EXACT same line

        • MoviePencil

          5th June 2013 at 4:53 pm

          LOL. I guess like minds speak alike.

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