Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Song and Dance Sequences in Bollywood Movies

The recent success of Slumdog Millionaire has introduced, albeit in a roundabout, convoluted way, western audience to Bollywood movies. Or rather, the Bollywood movie style. One thing that fascinates them most are the song and dance sequences. I have been asked, more than once, what the deal with them is? Why are 'Indians' fond of song and dance sequences?

The only think I can say is that song and dance sequences are part of the Bollywood movie format. Why does opera have singers driving their voices to inhuman pitches? Why do broadway musicals have, well, music in them? Why do pop songs have a scale change towards the end of the song? That's just the format that these artforms have. And this format has most likely evolved though the complex process that defines convention.

So in a similar manner, song and dance is just a format that Bollywood movies use. Sometimes it's used powerfully, sometimes it's just silly. But it's there, it's just a format. We make movies in the more 'realistic' Hollywood format too. Just that they are far more uncommon.

8 comments:

  1. Hmm.. I've been asked the same plenty of times in the past as well. Its mostly not something I'm fond of though, cause its more towards silly then well called for.

    Its an integral part though. Music in a motion picture addresses a bigger pool of emotions. Music touches. I love the way its used in movies nowadays, not just in background scores but also with all the lip sync et al, like in Omkara.

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  2. @ Instinctivecuriosity - the most interesting comment that a (non-Indian) friend of mine made was that he found the song and dance sequence to be 'gay'. How I infer this is that he found it to be irritatingly funny. Which made me wonder why he found it that way.

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  3. Song and dance sequences are plain irritating, rarely if ever funny...that is the part of the movie where I either sleep or just step out for a moment...

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  4. @ Deepa - Yes they are. But not always. Sometimes they're powerfully used. Sometimes they're just beautiful to look at. A recent one I can think of is the 'Om Shanti Om' track from Om Shanti Om in which several stars from Bollywood make an appearance. I think that song represents the spirit of the movie. You watch that one and realize what the movie is all about.

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  5. Here is the friend who said that the dance group scenes were "gay". I watched couple of Bollywood movies before and that is truly the format in those movies, but then the conclusion is that probably people like that style. Indian people are obviously very found of group dancing scenes in colorful clothes. That style is not very common and found attractive in Europe for example. It is just the matter of cultural standards.

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  6. No offence dude. But your "foreign friend" sounds very Indian to me, more like a figment of your imagination (actually sounds more like you); interesting Russian name you give him - Boris. How stereotypical?
    The usage of "truly", "the format" over "a format", "very found?" as against "very fond" - not russian or even foreign, very very Indian.

    The things people do for increasing blog comments.

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