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MY VIEW: 10 Important Lessons I Learnt from Bollywood in 2016

2016 was a mixed bag of blessings for lovers of Bollywood. While there were top notch performances and some great films (unfortunately not many); some movies left us wondering if there was any purpose for their very existence (we’re looking at Grand Masti here). But the industry has also taught us lessons aplenty. Here are the top 10 lessons I received from Bollywood this year:

1. Drugs are bad (really)

udta-punjab

Photo source: Facebook

While some politicians in India seemed hell-bent on ensuring Udta Punjab didn’t see the light of day because they were worried it might send the wrong message about drug abuse, they needn’t have worried. The film unflinchingly shows how drug abuse and addiction can rot away even the brightest of minds. From a young student losing his family and his life to drugs, to a pop star realising that he may have inadvertently glorified drug use; the film pulls no punches and leaves the audience gasping for air.

2. One must think real hard before naming their films

baar-baar

Photo source: Facebook 

One of the most anticipated films of the year was Baar Baar Dekho starring Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra. There was only one problem – audiences couldn’t stomach the film once, let alone willingly watch it over and over again. With hazy characterisations and lazy plot twists, the film’s title has now become an ironic play of words – I’m sure that’s not what the filmmaker wanted. Baar Baar Dekho? Not so much.

3. Thoughtful narratives based on LGBTQ community are much needed

aligarh

Photo source: Facebook

The year began with Aligarh, which told the story of a quiet and unassuming professor from Aligarh Muslim University who was arrested for being a homosexual man. The real life story of Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras made the audiences uncomfortable because it forced us to acknowledge some ugly truths about our own society. Bollywood got even more fearless when Kapoor and Sons introduced a successful leading man who also happened to be gay. Played by Fawad Khan, this was one of the few times a mainstream masala flick presented a positive portrayal of a gay man that wasn’t played up for laughs. And that’s worth celebrating.

4. Courage has no gender or age

neerja

Photo source: Facebook

People didn’t know what to expect when it came to Sonam Kapoor’s Neerja, with many assuming that the actress might not have been the best choice to play the role. But the film re-acquainted the nation with one of the most underrated heroes this country has seen – Neeja Banot. At 23, this young purser courageously fought and worked to save the passengers of Pan Am Flight 73, which had been hijacked by terrorists. There weren’t many dry eyes left in theatres by the end of the film.

5. Mothers can and should have dreams

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Photo source

What made Nil Battey Sannata stand out in a year of films with strong female protagonists, was the fact that its protagonist, a mother, takes charge of her own dreams and destiny. Gone are the days when women onscreen were only meant to encourage others to pursue their ambitions. Chanda Sahay (Swara Bhaskar) is a young mother and a maid who realises that she wants to go back to school and finish her schooling not only to inspire her own daughter but also for herself.

6. The Censor Board of India is confused

Starting from Udta Punjab, the Censor Board of India rarely left the news, and often times for the wrong reasons. Majority of the Indian audiences were flummoxed when the board had the makers of Baar Baar Dekho cut out a scene involving a joke about Savita Bhabhi and they also expressed their displeasure in words such as ‘lesbian’ and ‘homosexual’ being uttered in a film about homosexuality (Aligarh).

7. Being a Shahrukh Khan fan can be the entire plots for movies

dhanak

Photo source: Facebook

Not only was there a Shahrukh Khan fronted film called Fan where Shahrukh Khan plays his own fan, but there was a little movie called Dhanak along a similar premise that ended up stealing our hearts. The film tells a sweet story about a young girl (a die-hard Shahrukh Khan fan) who goes on the adventure of a lifetime to reach out to her idol so she can help her brother gain his eyesight.

8. Consent is key

pink

Photo source: Flickr

With Pink, Indian audiences gained the insight that even though sometimes circumstances leading to sexual assault can be murky, at the end of the day, consent is not something that can be argued away. While it deals with a number of pertinent themes like slut shaming and moral policing, its core message remains clear – no means no.

9. One shouldn’t skip History in school

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Photo source: Facebook 

Hrithik Roshan might have probably never guessed just how badly his film Mohenjo Daro would be mocked even before its release. Historians (and history buffs) had several field days on social media platforms (especially Twitter) pointing everything wrong with the film, including its poster. The movie features white Arabian horses in 2016 BC when they didn’t arrive to the region until 1500 BC, and the leading lady, who is a Harappan woman, sports feathers in her headgear when no such thing existed in that time. It’s no surprise that the movie barely made a whimper upon its release and was widely panned by critics and the audiences. Perhaps its director Ashutosh Gowarikar should have sat in on some history classes in middle school.

10. Wrestling is the new cricket

dangal

Photo source: Facebook 

While cricket may be the most popular sport in India, in Bollywood the only sport that seemed to really rule in 2016 was wrestling. Starting with Salman Khan starrer Sultan to the incredibly moving Dangal, both films ruled the box-office and gave audiences a glimpse of what it takes to succeed in sports in India. Dangal especially has captured our collective imaginations with the uplifting tale of the real-life Phogat sisters who climbed out of dire circumstances and brought glory to India through sheer hard work and determination. Now isn’t that something?

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