Bollywood is definitely the biggest consumerist trendsetter in India. The Indian market positively cashes in from the trends cinema sets. Finally the cheesy Valentine’s week mush has mellowed down in the Indian market, specifically and mostly due to Bollywood. While in the 1990s, Valentine’s Day was more important than even Republic Day in India, the second decade of this millennium has seen a remarkable decrease in the craze for Valentine’s Day.
While relationships and eternal love have both seen drastic shortening of their tenures recently, Bollywood has also adapted its stories accordingly portraying relationships in the same light that we see out in the open. Social views and cinema definitely share a symbiotic relationship and hence it is hard to point out who influenced whom in this scene.
One would clearly remember Yash Chopra’s Dil To Pagal Hai (1997). The maverick Yashji blended together western concepts like Valentine’s Day and pre-marital dating with native Indian values of loving till the end of eternity. It was a deviant idea made with exemplary skill that it balanced well the deep rooted values of contrary cultures into one fine film. One can still fall in love with SRK and Madhuri’s Pyaar Kar song sliced from a similar Valentine’s Night way back in 1997.
It would be a fallacy to assume that Valentine’s Day is a dead concept; it is simply a concept that is slowly blurring out and losing importance. Perhaps one would attribute this to change of mindsets at large, but Bollywood has conspicuously shifted its focus from Valentine’s Day celebrations. While love is still a crucial element of every cinematic plot, its structure is way more realistic than it used to be.
In 2012, the releases in Valentine’s month were Jodi Breakers and Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. While the former was a film about a company whose essential business is to split couples, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu was commendable for its unexpectedly delightful story and a brave, realistic and unpredictable climax. It is easy to gather from such releases that Bollywood is clearly trying to make a larger social statement. Romantic relationships have a newer free spirited, open minded and bold structure. Love does not necessarily have to be concrete and forever, it can also be in the moment and yet be for real. After challenging such deep rooted convictions of the traditional Indian ideas, it is quite clear that the new age Bollywood audience appreciates honesty in its stories and shall not be swayed by market designed gimmicks like Valentine’s Day.
Even actors, who are catalysts in initiating trends, are clearly taking their own individual stand. Kareena Kapoor Khan who recently married popular actor Saif Ali Khan will be celebrating her first Valentine’s post marriage shooting with Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgn for Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha. Kareena who plays an international journalist in the film is working very hard for her role. Kareena is an ultimate example of the quintessential hardcore leading Bollywood actress and her choosing work over husband is clearly telling her fans that love need not be celebrated on a specific day. And if one need not have to sideline their career in order to celebrate a media created day to celebrate childish mush.
This Valentine’s will still be more important to Bollywood for a rather tragic reason. PVR Cinemas has decided to pay a special tribute to Yash Chopra, who passed away in October, 2012. It was this man who single handedly weaved a spectacular genre of Bollywood romance with his grand style of film making. He glorified love, romance, relationships and gave it a stature no other Indian director can even imagine attaining. This Valentine’s Week PVR has decided to screen Yashji most popular films like Silsila, Kabhi Kabhi, Lamhe, Veer Zaara in all important cities including Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and so on.
I believe Bollywood has come of age and finally grown out of juvenile fantasies like Valentine’s Day. Finally there is realism in both cinema and our idea of love. Like everything else including Bollywood, we adapt, we adjust, we grow and we outgrow. Looks like, Bollywood is slowly outgrowing the myth of Valentine’s Day!