Why are Bollywood films so cheesy

BOLLYWOOD: "It can be really exaggerated"

BOLLYWOOD: "It can be really exaggerated"

The Indian film industry is celebrating its 100th anniversary. An expert on peculiarities and the status of Switzerland.

Marco Spiess, you are in charge of a website on which over 1500 Bollywood films are rated. Where does your fascination for Indian cinema come from? Through a trip?
Marco Spiess *
: No, not even. I'm a film editor and wanted to specialize a little. Around the year 2000 I saw my first Bollywood flick and got stuck out of fascination. There are now over 2000.

You were fascinated, others are quickly alienated by Bollywood films. There is so much singing and dancing.
Pike:
I can understand that. That is precisely why most of the fans in our latitudes are women who find it easier to access the ideal world and kitsch. To put it badly: Anyone who likes Rosamunde Pilcher and who wants something exotic will find pleasure in Bollywood more quickly. But there are also many currents and genres in Indian cinema.

For example?
Pike:
There are also horror or action films from Bollywood. And it is by no means always sung. This is a central element of many films and sometimes occurs in strange places for our tastes - even in horror films, in the middle of the build-up of tension.

Why is music so important?
Pike:
That is due to culture. In India, people even get up in the cinema, clap and sing along when a song comes up. When singing, feelings are also transported and dream sequences are inserted. Singing is like a lot in Bollywood: it can be really exaggerated and extroverted.

The second impression: In Indian films, everything is always perfect. The real news from India is not always that good. Are there also socially critical films?
Pike:
Absolutely. For a long time it was still clearly separated: the independent cinema took on the grievances, while the big film companies produced feel-good films and escapism. Today that mixes up more. The film industry is now also taking on the reality in the country, for example with the great differences between rich and poor.

Switzerland also plays an important role in Indian cinema.
Pike:
It's over. Unfortunately. The time when many films were at least partially shot here is over. Bollywood is now turning to other regions.

How so?
Pike:
That has to do with a certain oversaturation. Always only the Alps, snow and lush meadows die one day. Especially when they really appear in almost every film.

What was the attraction of Switzerland for the Indians?
Pike:
The Swiss Alps have a certain resemblance to Kashmir, which is still claimed by several countries and was therefore too dangerous as a location for a long time. In addition, Switzerland symbolizes many things that Indians admire: cleanliness, idyll, prosperity. All of this together made Switzerland an important area for Bollywood, especially from the mid-1990s.

When you are on the Titlis and see how the Indian tourists there heart paper mache images of Indian actors, it has almost religious traits.
Pike:
Yes, famous scenes were also filmed on the Titlis. For many Indians it is a goal to make a pilgrimage to the place where their favorite films were shot. Switzerland has benefited massively, in addition to central Switzerland, especially the Bernese Oberland. And movie stars are really extremely important and popular in India. If you say the wrong word about a superstar, you almost have to fear for your life. (laughs)

Bollywood is also experiencing a certain popularity in our latitudes. But are there any films in German at all?
Pike:
There are just over 200 with German subtitles. The rest you have to watch with English subtitles, practically everyone has them. When Indian cinema experienced a small boom here, some of the films were subtitled on site - simply by Google translation with hair-raising errors.

* Marco Spiess is a film editor for the magazines “Tele” and “TV Star”. He also looks after the platform www.molodezhnaja.ch, which specializes in Asian films. A Bollywood forum is also part of it. "It can be really exaggerated"

For the Indian, Bollywood is more than just cinema

The Indians laugh, cry, cheer and sing the songs - and have been for 100 years. Indian cinema celebrated its birthday on May 3rd.

"Bollywood is more than cinema, it is more than shared joy - it is a feeling of belonging and identity," explains film critic Suparna Sharma. Wherever someone is in India, they can always start a conversation with a stranger about a film.

“Bollywood influences our fashion, haircuts, colors”, knows the director Kunal Kohli, who became known for love films like “Hum Tum” or “Fanaa”. “We don't even have a musical culture outside of the cinema,” he adds.

In the first decades all films were based on stories from the Indian epics "Ramayana" and "Mahabharata". It's a little different now. But then as now, the world on the screen is divided into two halves - and in the end good always triumphs over bad.
Around 1000 feature films are currently thrown on the market in India every year, most of which are a colorful mix of romance and action, drama and violence, comedy and musicals.
According to the association, the film industry had a turnover of more than 1.7 billion euros last year, and it is growing - unlike Hollywood, for example - by 7 to 10 percent every year.
"Cinema is an escape - from the collapsing state, inflationary prices, corruption, power outages, general chaos," says film critic Sharma.

Director Vishal Bharadwaj formulated his love for Bollywood at the opening of the centenary
In New Delhi: "Cinema is an unbelievable 100-year-old disease and we are all comrades-in-sufferers."