Wednesday, July 2, 2014

RIP Bombay Talkies

Let my voice join those expressing sadness at the fire at the Bombay Talkies studio.

According to the Mumbai Mirror, master prints of 60 films went up in smoke, including Ashok Kumar's debut film. Deccan Chronicle says posters, letters, photos, and other memorabilia were also destroyed.

It pains my heart to think of Dadamoni's work turning to ash. It's really sad, the lack of care and respect for these old films and the memorabilia.

If not the Criterion Collection, then I really wish some Indian group would take the responsibility of restoring these old films, so the entire world can see the treasures Bombay produced. A film like Mahal stands up to anything in the Criterion Collection but who knows this one now besides the oldies and a handful of us movie nerds who tried to get our hands on everything Ashok Kumar ever did because we thought he was dreamy back in the day.

Anyways, I have a heavy heart today. I love this art so much and it's always painful to be reminded that most other people really couldn't care less. It's also hard to reconcile the HUGE show contemporary Bollywood makes of kowtowing to the past with the actual lack of respect for the films and actors themselves…

Sing us out, Dadamoni.


odadune said...

I was bummed to hear about this, even though my interest in pre-70s Bollywood is kind of limited. Dadamoni was very cool in his character actor days, and anything that reduces his surviving filmography is unfortunate.

I'm kind of ambivalent about Bollywood's cavalier attitude towards the classics and the pomposity of the handful of film journalists who attempt to canonize them, because my impression of American cinema is that the evolution of a film "canon" tends to go hand in hand with the creative decline and eventual bankruptcy of pop-film making as an art form. The one doesn't cause the other, I think, they're just products of the same impulse.

But on the other hand, clearly the oldies should be preserved and made available for new generations to investigate; I know I've benefited from Bollywood rights-holders putting up films from the 70s-90s timeframe on youtube, for instance.

Filmi Girl said...

But that's just it--there isn't a cavalier attitude toward the classics! But it's not appreciation, it's more like embarrassment… an Om Shanti Om-ish attitude. It's this weird thing where the camp value of those old films is played up, the values and messages are ignored, and a handful of old guard stars are venerated. Bollywood doesn't have a "film canon" but it does have a star canon: Amitabh, Rishi, etc… the songs are constantly remixed, the characters referenced, but the content and appeal of the films is forgotten.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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