The Half-Baked ‘New Wave’ of Bollywood

While films like Gangs of Wasseypur and Shanghai are getting critical acclaim and directors are being hailed as bright shining stars in emergence of ‘new wave’ in Bollywood, Harish Wankhede dismisses them as half baked efforts, of mostly smart improvisation on Western formula and Bollywood clichés. He thinks renaissance of class cinema in India needs to be grounded with original imagination and a punch of creative superiority. Wankhede teaches Political Science in University of Delhi.

Anurag Kashyap (photo: prakash k ray)

The rural north of India is the new favorite site of Bollywood. Its rustic, violence prone and anarchic social milieu is a readymade material for the young writers and directors who wish to wear clothes made of earthy fabrics. This ‘new wave’ of Bollywood is aspiring to distinguish itself from the masala-coateddishes of Bollywood typicality and provides a realistic looking narrative to the audience. What has been germinated in 1990s by Shekhar Kapoor in Bandit Queen and Gulzar in Maachis and was later restructured by talented Vishal Bharadwaj in Maqbool and Omkara, in the very recent times, this genre is now getting promising followers like Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee. The recently released two films, Gangs Of Wasseypur (GoW) and Shanghai have been debated in the critical circles as brave efforts to bring realistic values to the medium of storytelling. Further, it has been argued that its box office success may inspire the upcoming brigade of young film technicians who sincerely wished to break the traditional norms of filmmaking and set new innovative stereotypes. The courageous appreciation to these films from the critical bench further endorsed its distinct style. However, most of the debates are circled around the technical aspects and not much focus is given on its form and content. I will argue that both the films have distinct values; GoW is a smart and talented reproduction of Bollywood’s stereotypes, whereas Shanghai is a sincere pupil of the western ‘New Wave’ cinema.

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