Then And Now: Shorter Films In Bollywood By Komal Nahta Time was when films used to be really long. The average running time of a film was two-and-a-half hours but there were also films which ran for nearly three hours or maybe, even longer. In fact, the audience – masses, particularly – used to clap and whistle on seeing the number of reels on the censor certificate before the start of a film. More the number of reels, the louder used to be the public’s applause because the feeling was, a longer film would give more value for money than a shorter film.

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But that’s no longer true. Today, shorter films are in vogue and it is not uncommon for producers to make films of a running time of just two hours, maybe a few minutes more than that. Some films have a running time of less than even two hours while some are of just 90 or 95 minutes’ duration. In fact, so habituated is the public to watching shorter films that a lengthy film (of over 16 or 17 reels) actually elicits sighs in the cinema halls, if not shrieks of disbelief when the censor certificate is shown. Not surprising, considering that we live in the age of sms-es, where ‘love’ becomes ‘luv’ and ‘Are you coming?’ becomes ‘R u cmng?’.

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