I cherish great memories of the bygone era of 30s and 40s - the period of the pioneers when V. Shantaram made movies with a message, Mehboob Khan made musicals having discovered Surendra, the first and only male singer in Mumbai, the counterpart of Kolkata's singing sensation, K. L. Sehgal, Sohrab Modi made history with his great historicals, “Pukar” and “Sikandar” and Vijay Bhatt started the trend of mythological films with his greatest “Ram Rajya”, the golden age of 50s and 60s - the age remembered for romantic movies made by legendary directors like Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy, B. R. Chopra, Nasir Hussain, Vijay Anand, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and many more like them, the period of the parallel cinema in 70s - the time when the directors such as Mrinal Sen, Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani brought a new wave to Bollywood and of course, the age of the ‘Angry Youngman’ of late 70s and 80s, when directors like Mohan Desai, Prakash Arora, Yash Chopra made super hits with the one and only - Amitabh Bachchan, who raised the bar of acting standard in Bollywood beyond the reach of others in his fraternity. And then Bollywood's grand entry into the new millennium with worldwide popular movies. Spanning a wide range of decades, genres and style, the Bollywood film culture in all its glory is a wonderful thing, ever changing to cater to the changing tastes of the viewers or the critics.
Right from the early era of films to the recent controversy on “Udta Punjab” prior to its release,, extremely impactful to the Bollywood industry—was the government censorship of films. When the British were still in control, during the Studio Era, certain themes about Indian freedom could of course not be included. It was, indeed, an example of extraordinary intelligence of the makers of “Kismat” (1943) that they succeeded in bypassing the very strict censorship of the British period to include in the movie the immortal patriotic song penned by poet Pradeep - “Aaj Himalay Ki Choti Se Phir Humne Lalkara Hai, Door Hato Aye Duniya Walo, Hindustan Hamara Hai”. But it is after India’s independence from Britain that the censorship really strong-armed the industry and subsequently the style. Sex was roundly forbidden, including any “blatant physical contact” suggesting it, such as kissing. Thus, exaggerated body language replaced these things and became the norm, such as bumping shoulders between two romantic leads or keeping faces very close without touching. The dialogue also reflected the compensation for the missing sexuality. Most importantly, though, the songs took over the expression of love. In this context I recollect the golden era of great romantic movies when Dilip Kumar would be seen playing an antique piano while wooing his ladylove with lines, somewhat like, "Tu kahe agar to jivan bhar mein geet sunata jaoon". In movies then the proverbial tree proved safe bet in courting scenes to keep the lovers at decent distance from each other. Still safer, lovers in some movies remained separated in much of the footage of the film, content to call from long distance, "Awaz de kahan hai, duniya meri jawan hai". And yet the movies celebrated silver and golden jubilees. Then came along Raj Kapoor's 'Bobby', along with it the new trend of youthful romance, with plenty of hugs between the lead players. From then on there was no stopping, especially after the liberalization in the Censor Board policy, and singing and dancing "Choli ke peeche kya hai" and the sexier numbers, called item numbers, that followed, the films have reached a stage where lead actors compete in the smooch game on the silver screen. Why not, the youth today is far more liberal and fun loving than in yester years and looks for a free life style of unrestricted entertainment in films. Taking no risks or rather playing to popular demand, producers fill their films with bold scenes and daring songs and dance sequences. Hopefully, the present trend of sex overtones in screenplay and songs in films is only a passing phase, which will end when the audience taste changes and it gets fed up with too much sex in films. And it won't be too long a wait, as the super success of films like "Black", "Baghban” and “Piku” shows.
Indeed, Bollywood is another name for CHANGE.