Movies are one of the most influential tools of communication and society does learn a few things or get influenced to some extent through films. Bollywood films have been doing the same over the years, but in most cases, these films have simply mirrored the culture and shown what is going on in the society.
Hindi cinema has been a major reference point for shaping Indian culture in this century. It has influenced the way people perceive things or behave in their own lives.
The evolution of Bollywood, since the first film Raja Harishchandra to the golden age of Bollywood to the more commercial (masala) films has been critical in influencing the mind sets of the society by reflecting the existing trends or creating new ones.
The more commercial films were meant to create a fantastical image of a world, everything right from the greater than life set pieces to the skin tone of the main cast became an important factor The lead characters were no longer average looking people, they were fair and slim and beautiful.
This has an impact on the audience and soon even they wanted to look like these actors on screen, and also wanted to emulate their lifestyle.
There is no doubt that certain Bollywood films influences viewers greatly. For example, the film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara made a lot of people visit Spain, where the film was primarily shot.
However, the fact is that more Indians belonging to the upper middle class now have more disposable incomes and a lot of them are traveling abroad for holidays. So, Indians were already travelling before “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” was released, but the movie provided the people with an alternative, where they could go.
However, in terms of percentage, very few films focus on such themes.
Bollywood films portray things like music, dance, traditions, architecture of India. While other things such as globalization, modernization, India’s strengths in certain areas have not been adequately despite in films, Bollywood filmmakers have been focusing more on westernization of Indians, the liberations of women, Hindi-Muslim and other caste related problems.
However, Indian filmmakers also face challenges when they try to depict various aspects of the Indian culture, including history of a place. Protests by various fundamentalist groups are common as they feel certain films are showing their culture in poor light. Most of the times, these protests are politically motivated as well.
The focus on westernization in Bollywood films has played an important role in influencing Indian people on things like fashion and lifestyle, and have also influenced their opinions on issues like drugs, violence and sex.
To the outside world, Indian films, especially Bollywood, does help create a perception about the country as a whole. but considering the diversity of India, it can be said that the formulaic Bollywood films never showed the culture diversity of India.
Besides providing entertainment, Cinema is also a powerful medium of information, education and helps in opinion building on various social issues.
Certain movies can also leave a deep impression on the young minds; thankfully, the censor board of India have been doing a good job of censoring content that could have a negative impact on the budding minds.