The Bollywood Vibe Reflects on the Fashion-Conscious Tribe of Mumbai

Sep 12, 2019 | Biz, India, Pop

by Savita Jayaram

Drawing inspiration from Hollywood and linking it to the origins of the Hindi language film industry of India is ‘Bollywood’, with alphabet ‘B’ borrowed from the earlier Bombay (now Mumbai). 

The film industries thriving across different parts of India particularly focused on regional cinema are following the bandwagon to be referred as Tollywood (for the Telugu film industry in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Kollywood (Tamil language film industry based in Chennai), Mollywood (Malayalam film industry based in Kerala), Pollywood (Punjabi language film industry in India and Pakistan), Lollywood (Urdu and Punjabi films of Pakistan film industry in Lahore) and others.

From Reel-to-Real or Vice-Versa?

As is the influence of Hollywood on youth in the West, so is the influence of Bollywood on the culture of Mumbai and across India. It has its far-reaching impact on young minds in neighborhood countries of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Drawing comparisons or parallels between two distinctively unique film industries, Hollywood and Bollywood is rather unfair on each. However, we would like to bring to light some noted observations about Bollywood cine-goers who tend to dwell in larger-than-life imagery on their minds and live constantly in a dreamy world of hope. 

Romanticism and quest for true love is the quintessential theme of most Bollywood movies with a villain (in the form of either opposition from father or another lover, or an external force) tries all possible means to ensure that the couple in love is confronted with hurdles. These could be in the form of traditional conservative ideals of society, which makes their transition to the “happily-ever-after” narrative seem almost impossible. Bollywood movies have always emphasised on happy and stable families as the most important aspect of Indian culture.

While romanticism as idealized in Bollywood movies gives hope for the hopeless, is it making people drift away from embracing realism? For when the romantic ideals do not get met in real life, people are unprepared for failures to get extremely disheartened soon. Is Bollywood to be blamed for the damage caused to the social fabric of life? 

Bajirao Mastani – Deepika Padukone

New Age, New Rules: Embracing the Gradual Shift

The Hero-figure in most movies of the early 80s and 90s is often portrayed as a righteous being, exuding misogynistic attitude and upholding patriarchal values strong, thus leading from the front till the end of the film. Further, the portrayal of women in leading roles in Bollywood cinema was limited until the 2000s dawned upon. 

The Bollywood industry is undergoing a gradual shift from the trends of the early 80s, 90s to embrace more powerful themes and women-centric stories. Looking at the bigger picture, the industry is still at its evolving stages and has a way to go, to look beyond romance and develop real stories that touch human lives.  There is tremendous unharnessed potential in the comedy and docudrama genre, and also the epic genre of movies as well.

How many movies are made to portray real-to-reel life characters and manage to claim success? Well, new-age Bollywood cinema can pride on few hits that have enticed audiences across the globe. 

The Fashion Conscious Tribe of Mumbai

Considering the popularity of Bollywood, it comes as no surprise that the people of the city of Mumbai are extremely fashion-conscious and in sync with the latest trends. They most often come across as self-obsessed with the way they look and dress up for an occasion. 

It can seem quite amusing to notice the influence of Bollywood across all age groups, be it aping celebrity lifestyle choices, to stalking celebrity Instagram accounts for latest fashion tips, sporting and supporting celebrity brand endorsements to signing up for their next celeb brand purchase. While we would like to believe that everyone wants to unleash the celebrity within, the urge to be the next trendsetter comes with a hefty price tag. 

Bollywood musicals, song and dance numbers entice audiences to find few moments of pleasurable fun. It helps transition with ease, away from the sadness and harsh realities of real life to a new headspace filled with hope and happy endings. 

Most Bollywood films are made for commercial business, and the non-commercial genre of Hindi cinema barely manages to draw audiences to the theatre screens. Capturing vanity at its best with women in scantily clad clothes grooving to the beats of popular Bollywood dance hits speaks volumes of an industry cashing on voyeurism, however beautifully camouflaged by the word and world of “entertainment”.

Nevertheless, the growing reach of Bollywood movies is a lucrative revenue generation medium for the Indian government, filmmakers and foreign countries. Indian films are shot extensively in foreign locales which presents a win-win situation for both the host country and the Bollywood industry.  On careful understanding of the accrued profit earned out of this untapped potential, most countries are offering subsidies to the Indian film industry and Bollywood in particular to visit their country and shoot sequences in its scenic locales. 

The globalisation of Bollywood culture, it’s penetration and reach worldwide has helped promote global tourism, foster strategic partnerships with international film division and distributors abroad. Hosting award shows in foreign land is no longer a distant dream, it’s a welcoming step that presents a huge revenue creation opportunity for the Bollywood industry, the show organisers and the foreign government involved.

While literature continues to struggle and dabble with the past to bring about changes in society and youth mindsets, Bollywood continues to hold the mantle strong. Transcending geographical boundaries, breaking cultural and religious divide, challenging norms and preconceived notions to bring about social change in totality. Do you think, we owe an ode to the culturally inspiring institution of Bollywood yet?