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?