Easily digested bite-sized chunks of filmmaking is the perfect counterpart to our modern day attention spans.
While diversity in Hollywood has been a hot topic as of late – and rightly so – foreign film industries are going strong. It’s why worldwide box office gross, even more than domestic appeal, is so important for the U.S. More people in more countries are going to the movies. It kind of sucks that the most popular American films in countries like China include our lamest offerings. They’re usually the most popular here too, unfortunately (looking at you, Transformers franchise). It makes sense, though. Love of explosions transcends all language and cultural barriers. All I’m sayin’ is, if you’re not getting your diversity needs from Hollywood right now (and who is?), just look abroad. The most influential film industry outside of our own has to be India’s Bollywood. And they have a soon-to-be blockbuster premiering this week, known as A Flying Jatt.
Doesn’t that look like crazy fun!? Maybe a bit superhero formulaic, but at least it seems campy in all the right ways. It stars a handsome, shredded young star who’s not above self-deprecating humor being mixed into all of his stoic hero posing. And It’s not by any conventional means that I even discover Bollywood’s creations like I normally would; you know, through like film criticisms, movie blogs, news articles, or word of mouth from my buddy Dallas crying and begging me to go see some new indie title starring Shia LaBeouf who does drugs and life’s hard and what does it even all mean, man? No, Bollywood is the absolute powerhouse in the most internet way possible: gifs.
I believe Bollywood understands better than most regional film industries the essence of movies as a storytelling medium. More than any other, its primary focus is on spectacle, creating awe from the visuals. Does content or context really matter when you’re power sliding a horse under a truck?
I don’t need a trailer when I see a gif like that. I’m sold. It’s like every scene shot was created from the first round of spit-balling.
“Hey, how about we just flip and spin a bunch of cars regardless of physics or logic?” – Writers.
“Gold!” – Producers. No craziness is unwarranted.
The difference from these gifs as opposed to just grabbing random action scenes from our own Hollywood repertoire is that Bollywood absurdity feels wholly genuine. Our more cockamamie contributions – the Cranks and Smokin’ Aces and Shoot ’Em Ups – are too meta. They’re in on the joke and revel in the self-mockery.
Bollywood’s preposterousocity (a word I just made up) is a perfect match for the gif. It’s a quick take bursting at the seams with entertainment value where you don’t have to question too hard what the hell’s going on if you don’t want to (but you always do). It’s an auteurist niche, something that I’ve only seen Bollywood produce. (And yes, I understand the difference between Bollywood and Tollywood, Hindi films versus Telugu ones, and all the other possible variations. Much like other countries view movies originating in the U.S. as Hollywood, regardless of where it was filmed or by which studio, Bollywood represents a certain aesthetic. For the most part, Bollywood equals India, just as Hollywood equals U.S.A.)
These gifs of random Bollywood action and comedy scenes are glorified in forever-dom by being internet fodder, and they are always, always prefaced with titles like “greatest effect of all time” or “best scene ever” or “OMG, that dude slid a horse under a truck”. It’s easy to mistake those labels as hyperbole. These reactions are as sincere as the intent of Bollywood filmmakers to produce the ultimate escapism. They just excel at doing it in itty-bitty pieces.