12 April, 2021

Wanted: Madrasi Stories

The sudden glut of southside ‘gunpowder’ kitsch highlights Bollywood’s creative drought

Wanted: Madrasi Stories

It may not be able to hold pride of place in the larger history of Hindi cinema but Wanted, a tale of love in times of gangsters and their sidekicks, is quite a significant landmark for recent Bollywood. Not just for the famous Salman Khan dialogue, “Ek baar jo maine commitment kar li to main apne aap ki bhi nahin nahin sunta”, but for the fact of having burst open the sluice-gates to a full-on southern tsunami. For Wanted, together with Ghajini, unleashed a new surge of south Indian remakes for the Hindi film viewer, a wave that refuses to abate.

It’s a wave that also saw a downward spiral in terms of the quality of popular Hindi cinema with its unsubtle, cartoonified formula of mindless action, loud dialogue and crude comedy in film after film, from Ready and Bodyguard to Boss and Policegiri. Mainstream masala has never looked more factory-made, with unbridled but stilted machismo and regressive stories in which women are reduced to mere props. Ironically, this robotic kitsch, be it remake...

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