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2014 Rewind: 10 reasons why Hindi cinema still matters

This year witnessed more of a downfall than an upswing for Bollywood — not just in commercial terms but also critical — but we give you 10 reasons to stay positive about Hindi cinema for a long time to come

Put into perspective, Bollywood didn't really have a breathtaking year. There were no mind-boggling figures embellishing the box office either. In all fairness, 2014 has been a lukewarm year for the Hindi film industry.

Haider, which starred Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor, was not only based in Kashmir but also entirely shot in the Valley — a shift from the usual recce practice in Bollywood. The film was one of the high points of the year as it earned both critical acclaim and encouraging box-office figures
'Haider', which starred Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor, was not only based in Kashmir but also entirely shot in the Valley — a shift from the usual recce practice in Bollywood. The film was one of the high points of the year as it earned both critical acclaim and encouraging box-office figures

Similarly, there were no lateral entrants like 'Ship of Theseus' or 'Shahid' or 'The Lunchbox' to help us wade through the otherwise formulaic assembly. Is there a pattern to be noticed? Are we missing something of a paradigm shift not only at the filmmakers' end but also at the audience's? In any case, it's easy to just override Bollywood for its abject lack of originality, of late. At the same time, however, it'd be farcical to simply assume that Hindi cinema as an entity could possibly be redundant — ever. hitlist highlights 10 reasons why Bollywood is still worth believing in…

Tahir Raj Bhasin made a sparkling debut in Mardaani, obviously his background in theatre was a huge help
Tahir Raj Bhasin made a sparkling debut in 'Mardaani', obviously his background in theatre was a huge help 

1) Secular fabric
Say what you may about content — or lack thereof — but Hindi films, not to forget their makers, have ensured that the good ol' idea of secularism is upheld under any circumstances. An onscreen character's private beliefs rarely get in the way of the storyline. Seldom do we come across an incident where a storyline offends religious sentiments. On the other hand, most of the controversies pertaining to faith rise just on assumption, much before a given film even hits the marquee. And 2014 takes a good step forward with a film like 'pk', which takes on religious leaders who lead us astray.

Written by Irshad Kamil and composed by AR Rahman, Patakha Guddi from Highway scorched the chartbusters
Written by Irshad Kamil and composed by AR Rahman, 'Patakha Guddi' from 'Highway' scorched the chartbusters

2) Sound of music
The cliché of a hero and his heroine running around a tree while a song is played in the background never goes out of fashion. But what has effectively gone out of the production door in the West is the concept of musical within a feature film. Which might explain why French cinema shies away from musicals while German cinema employs English pop songs. In the meantime, Bollywood films continue to unabashedly celebrate music like there's no tomorrow. 2014 had a plethora of some exceptionally good music with meaningful lyrics, be it 'Zehnaseeb' from 'Hasee Toh Phasee', 'Samjhawaan' from 'Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania', 'Galliyan' from 'Ek Villain', or 'Patakha Guddi' from 'Highway' or 'Allah Waariyan' from 'Yaariyan'.

Like his music or hate it but you can’t possibly ignore Honey Singh
Like his music or hate it but you can't possibly ignore Honey Singh

3) Source of livelihood
While purists make all kinds of noise, they conveniently forget that Bollywood is a $3.2 billion industry employing nearly two lakh people. And this employment ranges from big-ticket stars to junior technicians, all of them earning their bread thanks to Friday releases. If a brainless film hits the jackpot at the box office, it also translates to further distribution of moolah to the thousands of faceless and nameless contributors. There was one sexist rule in the industry of not allowing women to wield the make-up brush, but that is also history now, thanks to the gritty Charu Khurana.

The bromance between Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor was entertaining —both on and off the screen — while their chemistry with Priyanka Chopra paled in comparison
The bromance between Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor was entertaining —both on and off the screen — while their chemistry with Priyanka Chopra paled in comparison

4) Change is in the air
The recent success of relatively smaller films like 'Filmistaan', 'Ankhon Dekhi', 'Sulemani Keeda', etc. has reinforced the new stream of thinking. So much so that young actors like Shahid Kapoor ('Haider') and Varun Dhawan ('Badlapur') are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zone. After all, more risk-taking filmmakers are on board and there's an encouraging balance with established studios like Viacom18, UTV and PVR Rare among others taking the initiative to produce and distribute high-content but low-on-budget flicks.

Small budget movies like Filmistaan, which was hoping for a release for almost two years, finally hit the marquee in 2014
Small budget movies like 'Filmistaan', which was hoping for a release for almost two years, finally hit the marquee in 2014

5) Godfather? No, thanks
What's common between Honey Singh and Chetan Bhagat? Both are going to be everywhere — if they aren't already. Yet again busting the myth that nepotism rules. Besides, Bollywood has warmly welcomed relative 'nobodies' from the outside world. You may have doubts about their talent, but can't deny that they have made the best use of the opportunity offered to them by Hindi cinema.

6) Single screen, great hope
Multiplexes account for just eight per cent of India's 12,000 screens but rake in a third of the total box office receipts. So one can imagine the pressure single screens must be reeling under. Besides, the number of single-screen cinemas in India continues to fall beyond 10,000 (the estimated figure in 2012). Regardless, there's a long way to go before all of them are shut down — making way for multiplexes — or the unruly whistles of the boisterous are silenced.

7) Giving theatre its due
In the recent past, more actors with a strong stage background are pouring into the industry. This year saw talent powerhouses including Manav Kaul, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Seema Pahwa and Niharika Singh, impressing Hindi cinema lovers.

8) Going global
As far as the overseas market is concerned, Bollywood is no longer limited to the diaspora. NRIs are anyway going to watch Hindi films. On a greater scale, we are witnessing a phase where collaborations between the promising East and the meticulous West is so obviously on. And it's not just about AR Rahman composing music for Hollywood films or Irrfan acting in them but also about the steady exchange of ideas on the technical and infrastructural front. 'Happy New Year' took a happy step ahead in being innovative with its release and instead of going for the traditional satellite rights, the producers decided to release it on the digital platform. This is just a start.

9) Long live Urdu
Post-independence, there was a rather long phase when Urdu defined the verbal side of a movie. However, that fastidious nature of the poetic language has changed. Irrespective of all these evolutionary changes, Urdu somehow manages to flourish in Hindi film songs. Like Haider not only stole our hearts with its beautiful poetry but also gave Urdu its rightful place yet again.

10) Entertainment factor
Bollywood was reasonably high on entertainment this year too. Don't believe us? Look at Govinda in his comeback roles in Kill Dil and Happy Ending. Or Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh's bromance on-screen as well as off it.

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