Hindi Cinema: The Aesthetics of Excess

Posted: November 7th, 2016

ONE OF THE many features of the genre that draws attention to the absence of realism in Hindi cinema is the often lavish lifestyles of its protagonists. Some Indians do indeed live like this—though in a chicken-and-egg situation, I’m not sure which came first, the films or the lifestyles—but film characters endowed with inexplicable wealth is not unusual. I once asked Yash Chopra (1932-2012) why he showed such lifestyles in many of his films, and he said it was to foreground emotions without the distraction of economic or other day-to-day problems. He called this style ‘glamorous realism’. Although this has since come to be seen as normal, wealth has been portrayed in many ways in Hindi cinema.

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