India’s beauty lies in its diversity. It’s a country where language, clothes, food, and landscapes change every few kilometers. To know more about a country, one of the best and most entertaining ways is to delve into its cinema and in this aspect, India has a lot to offer. The Indian cinema has always reflected the beauty of this nation and has taken us to places we didn’t even know about.
In the late 1940s and early 1960s, the golden era of Bollywood, Indian filmmakers were deeply influenced by India's anti-colonial struggle and independence movements and that was reflected in the movies that were made during then, for example, Mother India.
As the golden era came to a decline, Bollywood changed its way and shifted to stories from big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. These cities provided juxtapose of the glamour and sparkle of big buildings and the slums that reside at the back of their foot. These are the cities where people go with dreams in their eyes and hope in their heart. However, a lot of India was still outside of these places but these metropolitans found their way into Bollywood big time.
Things seem to be changing now as Bollywood is on a small-town adventure. Filmmakers are focusing on small towns of India like Jamshedpur, Jwalapur, Banaras, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, etc for their stories. There is no doubt that a lot of India lives in these towns and they have a million stories to tell. With this shift, the audience from these places have started to feel seen and heard. It shows that there is a place for stories coming from small towns. The mass appeal for small town backdrops has increased immensely. These places become a character themselves if portrayed with justification.
Let’s take the example of Bareilly Ki Barfi, the movie starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Kriti Sanon, and Rajkumar Rao, a beautiful romcom set in Bareilly. In the backdrop of Bareilly lie the narrow and crowded streets, the sweet shops at the corner of the road, and the local printing press. The movie made its place with a good storyline, beautiful performances, and the landscapes of the town it is set in.
Another romcom, Tannu Weds Manu, starring R. Madhavan, Kangana Ranaut, and Jimmy Shergill is set in Kanpur and has tropes like local goons, typical North Indian parents, everyone with an accent and all of this is particular to that region. The movie wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t set in Kanpur, the essence will be lost.
Masaan, a much talked about and critically acclaimed movie has a lot to do with the city of Benaras. The heart of the movie lies in that place. It has captured the beauty of Benaras in such a mesmerizing way that we all felt like we were there with these characters. Everything about this film will stop making sense without Benaras.
India is a country with a population of more than 1.3 billion people with so much cultural diversity. With this shift, the hope to see more beautiful stories from these places has risen and we all are here for it!