Watching Hindi movies of the mid-90s leaves me dumbfounded. Movies I remember liking at that time now seem to have such juvenile plotlines, hammed acting, pointless sequences and just plain bad dialogues; makes me wonder how I could have watched them then.
Case in point - I happened to watch a few minutes of Raja by Indra Kumar the other day. I remember watching the movie when it came out and liking it. But seeing it this second time was such a pain. There was no visible link from scene to another. Loads of toilet humour (a prelude to the sex comedies we have now), inane dialogues - "ek ladki ka pehla chumban uske mehboob ke liye hota hai memsaab, kisi rahgeer ke liye nahi" - and this dialogue delivered with a wooden face by Sanjay Kapoor floored Madhuri!! Man, I should have been 20 then, would have had better luck with the ladies :)
Similarly, the other day, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun was coming on TV. I can't imagine what made me spend my parents' hard-earned money to watch the movie twice in theatres. Watching Laxmikant Berde ham through his lines and assorted relatives talk about how happy, lucky and well-fed they were left me worried about what sort of person I was, growing up.
I understand that Hindi movies reached the Nadir in the 80s with "Himmatwala" Jitendra and assorted Govinda, Mithun flicks which had actresses of the ilk of Jayaprada, Kimi Katkar, Meenakshi, Sonam etc. The early 1990s it seems weren't much better. Now we have the Johar-Chopra-RGV-SLB movies which though have excuses for storylines, generally make it up with better production values and (most of the time) decent acting (though there are exceptions like Dhoom2, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom etc).
Maybe things haven't changed a bit, and I am probably just watching better movies by preselecting them; while I was indiscriminate during my childhood, lapping up anything/everything that came up for viewing. And seeing that a crappy movie like Dhoom2 can make more than a 100 crores makes me realise that there are still children growing up like me; and I fully sympathize with them.
I really like some of the small independent (multiplex?) movies that come out these days. Iqbal, Dor, Pyaar ke Side Effects, Life in a Metro, Khosla ka Ghosla etc are some of my favourites. It is good that economics have worked out in the favour of such flicks, that they can recover their cost without catering to the (really) lowest common denominator. The occasional Chak de India never hurts too.
I guess many directors have the ability to make good movies, but a few years struggling in the industry makes them realise the demand is for masala movies and they begin catering to that, to survive and flourish and as years pass, their instincts go away too. You either need to be really brave or really carefree to make movies you want them to be like. And not many succeed.
But some do. I was watching Chupke Chupke last weekend and sat through the entire movie, and liked it. Hrishikesh Mukherjee made really beautiful movies and Golmaal, Anand, Bawarchi, Khatti-Meethi, Chupke Chupke have stayed with me even though I first saw them so many years ago. I guess he was able to achieve the perfect balance between good and marketable movies.
But then these are few and far between. Most only make up good actresses like Tabu dance to the tune of "Love, love, love, love....tumse love hua".