The verdict's out, people — Dabangg has kicked every single Bollywood "hit" of the year to the moon and is well on its way to establishing itself as the box-office king of the year. And it's making a statement to all the Manhattan/Melbourne/Swiss Alps-crazy production houses in the country.
Desi is where it's at, baby.
Bollywood has this distinct identity crisis — the bigger chunk of it is yet to decide whether it wants to make India-centric movies, the smaller chunk veering towards designer digs and duds as far removed from the motherland as possible. But guess what? Patriotism seems to have won over pretense, if the newly-discovered love for desh ki mitti is anything to go by.
Films that revolved around the rustic were mostly indie, low-budget ones in Bollywood — no big banner was willing to touch a desi theme with a barge pole. Even those that did were grand operatic tributes to swathes of yellow fields and wide open skies, and small chawls, charpoys under a star-lit sky and the rural landscape were but a mere cursory presence in the bigger scheme of things. Think any film after DDLJ that had a village angle to it, and you'll get the picture.
The post DDLJ era saw top Bollywood powerhouses going ga ga over snowcapped landscapes that were at least a world and a mile (ok, kilometre) away from the Himalayas. And the heroines were usually covered in attire that weren't ghagra cholies or saris or variations of these. These were the big screen equivalents of the saas-bahu serials on television — conniving women in jewel-encrusted faux-saris with nary a trace of substance.
Yes, I'm looking at you, Karan Johar.
Lest you be mistaken, I have nothing against breathtaking foreign locales and leading ladies showing a lot of leg — they sell. Just that leading ladies who show a lot of leg can look equally gorgeous against the backdrop of a village arrack shop. For one thing, it will sell. For another, it adds a touch of authenticity, no ?
Take Bipasha Basu in Beedi Jalai Le — beedies couldn't have gotten a better endorsement:
Hark back to the days when Urmila Matondkar's chammak challo act had nothing on Manoj Bajpai's shake, shake, shake it with gay abandon:
Long live Bhiku Mhatre !
Word is Salman as Chulbul (giggle) Pandey is the second coming of the Indian hero on celluloid — complete with moustache, local Ray Bans, the typical Indian male's swagger and dialogues that are just shy of being blush-inducing.
Salman's resurrection couldn't have happened at a better time — both for him and for Bollywood.
Trademark jhatkas, item songs by choli-espousing divas who make the most desirable blond vamps pale in comparison and inappropriate colloquial humour in place of pristine European locales, hot pants and English-speaking ABCDs — bring it on, I say!