Family dramas take a backseat in Bollywood

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) It's a genre that gave Indian audiences mega hits down the decades like "Bobby", "Silsila", "Pyar Jhukta Nahin", "Maine Pyar Kiya" and "Beta". But the family drama, once a surefire way to succeed in Bollywood, now seems to be fading out.

"This is a time when filmmakers are experimenting with other subjects and themes. Nobody wants to stick to a particular genre," director Kunal Kohli who has enthralled audiences with films like "Hum Tum" and "Fanaa", told IANS on phone from Mumbai.

Film critic Taran Adarsh said: "People are making films on more contemporary subjects as they feel there are already so many family-oriented shows on TV; so why would the audience like to watch the same thing all over again on the silver screen?"

There were "Gharana", "Khandan" and "Pyaar Ka Saagar" in the 1960s. In the 70s, which were dominated by Amitabh Bachchan's action movies, films like "Kabhi Kabhie", "Abhiman" and "Parichay" also made their mark.

Actors like Jeetendra, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Rekha, Jaya Bachchan gave stellar performances in family dramas.

The mid-1980s and 90s were a time when this genre ruled the roost with films like "Silsila", "Chandni", "Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak", "Pyar Jhukta Nahin", "Dil" and many more.

In comparison, very few full-fledged family dramas are being made now.

Director Imtiaz Ali who was behind the blockbuster "Jab We Met" said: "It's not entirely true that family dramas are missing. It's just that they have changed form.

"They are not necessarily in the same format. We can say that now what we get to see in certain films is the new improved version of family dramas," he said.

Top Bollywood production houses such as Dharma Productions and Yash Raj Films used to be known for romantic sagas on the big screen. Karan Johar made a name for himself with films like "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" and "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai".

But they too have diverted their attention to individualistic and action-oriented storylines.

In an effort to exert a pull on youngsters, filmmakers are dealing with topics that appeal more to Gen X. Films like "Dhoom", "Chak De! India" and "Dostana" among others are examples that hint at the diversion from family-oriented themes.

However, there are still a few who believe in the power of the genre.

"It is a cycle. At a given point of time, one type of films are made more than others. It's all about the trend. But I know for sure that the trend of family dramas will come back," feels Ravi Chopra, the director of the hit family drama "Baghban".

Kaushik Ghatak, whose debut venture "Ek Vivah...Aisa Bhi", which released recently, said, "New and different kinds of films are made today, but that doesn't mean people are bored of watching family dramas. If made tastefully, they will result as box- office grossers."

"Audiences still like watching films which depict our values and culture," he added.

Rajshri Productions, which produced "Ek Vivaah...Aisa Bhi", has been a pioneer in churning out stories that reflect Indian family traditions.

Under Rajshri, Sooraj Barjatya made blockbusters like "Maine Pyar Kiya", "Hum Aapke Hain Koun" and most recently "Vivah". Indian and overseas audiences alike lauded these movies.

"If someone tells me that family dramas will not do well in the overseas market, I will not buy that at all. Films should be well made and will definitely be appreciated," said Ravi Chopra.

Ali, who is currently working on a romantic film starring Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone, agreed: "Overseas audiences get their share of western content. So they are always looking forward to stories which depict our family values."

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