Design as “Aesthetics of excess”- Indian Cinema

I would love to work in a Bollywood film as there is so much drama and color in the films there.

-Brad Pitt

India is the largest producer of films in the world. The cinematic extravaganza that Bollywood brings to life surpasses the combined aesthetics that the world has to offer in this domain.

One might think, ‘bulk’ means compromise on details. But it’s the other way round with Indian silver screen. Indian set designers and film makers, make-up artists and cinematographers are so well drained in the details that even a simple work they produce bears all the aesthetics by default. Indians have grown with this heritage overload and also with the variety of it. Overload to such an extent that we sometimes even stop admiring the beauty of it as we have started to overlook it.

During the first half of the twentieth century, a significant shift to general aesthetic theory took place which attempted to apply aesthetic theory between various forms of art, including the literary, visual and performing arts. This resulted in the rise of ravishing portrayal of characters in dramas, theaters and specifically movies. In India, this trend even continues today, where Bollywood stars are projected larger than life, virtually strong, heavenly beautiful heroines with dancers in the background ( which are actually out of place), exquisite enormous setups which do not even exist in reality. Just Imagine the way Rajnikanth is written for movies. Unreal & surreal, but results in blasting box office collections.

The best example that fits into the context is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus “Devdas”. The idea of making an epic with grandeur entailed sets that would enhance it. Wherein the sets would be monumental just like the story and characters. The biggest of them all was Chandramukhi’s mirror bedecked; gold pillared kotha. The sets gave scope to the characters to appear big, when life treated them tenderly and small when happiness escaped into oblivion.
But at the end of the day, people love to watch it; not to forget “the femme fatale” glimpses which have become an archetype of Indian literature and art.

This peculiarity of Aesthetic sense is not consequently meaningful at times and one might feel that Bollywood needs to get more realistic and less lavish to be able to connect to the masses on an intellectual level.

But again, sometimes what we have always lived with is often disregarded in the wake of uninformed perspectives…

Think about it.

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