The Shifting Of Tradition In Bollywood Films

985 words - 4 pages

The origins of Bollywood films in India date as far back as the 1890s. Bollywood films contain unique sequences of song and dance that work together to form a plot that attracts its audiences. As Bollywood films continue to top the world wide charts in both the number of films produced and the number of tickets sold, its widely used and accepted Hindi traditions have slowly shifted. In more recent years, Bollywood directors have taken a more open minded approach towards religion and sexuality. In modern Bollywood films such as Fire and Bombay, there has been a shift from older Bollywood and Hindu traditions towards a newer, more liberalized view of these issues.In Deepa Metha's controversial film Fire, the strong presence of sexuality is a big change from traditional Bollywood film making. The film is about two women who married into a traditional family and are struggling to be free in a male dominated country. The two women, Radha and Sita, eventually meet when Jatin marries Sita and brings her into their family. Radha and Sita soon become friends and both share a similar lifestyle. They fall in love with each other and engage in a lesbian affair. Although their relationship is forbidden and breaks the traditional bond of marriage, they follow their hearts and turn their backs on tradition.The presence of the controvesial topic of homosexuality in Bollywood films have been untouched until the release of Fire. "Not until recently has Bollywood directors even permitted kissing on film, let alone presenting the act lesbianism to its plot." (Regereu 1) Although considered sexually tame by our Western standards, acts of sexuality are thought to be somewhat sinful by Bollywood principles. Many times these sexual thoughts are expressed by song and dance sequences that show the feelings of the characters instead of actual action scenes. In traditional Bollywood and Hindi customs, nudity is a very seldom seem in public and many times do lovers in the films rarely get beyond hand-holding.During the course of the film, Metha defies many of the old standards of Bollywood. Metha uses various forms of symbolism to represent the fight between old tradition and new ideas. With the use of explicit sexual scenes between Sita and Radha, the fully clothed actors and actress's have been replaced by bare skin. The presence of the character Biji, the old mother of the family, can be thought as a representation of old tradition. With her inabilty to move around and talk, she can symbolize the ending of the once dominant Hindi customs. In her time, women were supposed to have children and were mere tools for men. The film shows a change from the old traditional way of thinking and gives room for modern social norms. Sita represents this new voice through her battle of repression and fight for what she loves.In the film Bombay directed by Mani Ratnam, the topic of marriage outside ones' own religion was the main premises behind the plot. In...

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