Stop apologizing for the things you enjoy eating.
Stop apologizing for the things you enjoy wearing.
Stop apologizing for how you prefer to spend your day.
Stop apologizing for the things that make you happy.
In the past – and much to our collective irritation – the only Indian cinema that earned any respect in the US was of the serious kind. Movie critics would swoon over the likes of Satyajit Ray, while disdaining our mainstream movies as over-the-top escapist trash. Finally, commercial Hindi movies are getting the respect they deserve…
Well, “respect” may be the wrong word. Bollywood is now the official bimbo of the international film scene. No one cares what our movies say as long as they look good and offer mindless fun. In fact, that’s our designated job according the kitsch-is-cool pose adopted by American critics. Cartoonish characters, absurd plotlines and bad dialogue? Thank you, that’s exactly what we ordered, with a giant serving of exotic locales, dance numbers, and costumes, please!
In American eyes, Bollywood becomes the cinematic equivalent of going to the circus. Bring on the clowns, the jugglers, the crazy acrobatics—and you get a pass on the stuff that real movies are judged on. And so it is that Ra.One which is almost universally panned by Indian critics for its clunky acting and weak plot gets rave reviews in the United States.
The underlying message is that “serious” cinema is best left to those who know how—in Hollywood, France, even Iran. Our job on the international cinema stage is simple: look pretty and play dumb.