Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bollywood ending

  • Print

To jaundiced western eyes, the classic Bollywood movie is a frivolous thing. If you've seen a few films, you would think all of the cinema of in Mumbai (the most productive movie centre in the world, and the second most lucrative), was frozen in a 1950s-era Hollywood stasis in which every film is a musical.

Irrespective of subject matter, story, or genre, there will be a romance and it will be expressed in lavishly produced musical numbers replete with echo chamber voices and precision choreography on visually lush landscapes.

The appetite for those films transcended national boundaries. That is why, a decade ago, most Indo-Canadian grocery stores, convenience stores and even fabric shops used to display a Bollywood video section. Indian cinema has always been a key cultural link for immigrants who came to Canada from India with a persistent craving for the kinds of familiar films they knew and loved.

Joe Gupta, 62, is a local expert on Indian films (of which Bollywood is one significant component along with other films from other production centres, including Punjabi cinema). He estimates an inventory of about 100,000 movies on sale in his two India Spice House stores at 66 Mandalay Drive and 1875 Pembina Highway. Gupta also hosts a weekly AM radio show on CKJS devoted largely to music from Indian cinema.

The former journalist says the movies not only fed cultural cravings, but actually brought families together with their innocent style of entertainment.

"What you saw in the '50s, '60s', '70s and the beginning of the '80s were movies that had meaning and depth, some family values and some lessons. No nudity or obscene scenes," he says. "Movies in those days were comfortable to watch with elderly people and small children, without any embarrassing moments or bedroom scenes or any of that."

On top of that, exposure to the films may have constituted a language refresher course for subsequent generations. "Grandkids who watch movies in Punjabi with their grandparents can actually have their language skills enriched by watching movies," Gupta says.

Gupta acknowledges that Indian films have undergone a transition in the past few years, betraying the creeping influence of Hollywood cinema. (On the shelves of Gupta's Mandalay Drive store are gangster films with titles such as Mumbai Godfather and Once Upon a Time in Mumbai.)

"What they show these days, very seldom do you see a movie with some depth," he says.

But Gupta is hanging on to the video component of his business. As the traditional video store is disappearing, so too is the Bollywood video section of Indo-Canadian stores such as Dino's Grocery Mart on Notre Dame Avenue, once one of the go-to destinations for Indian film in the city centre. The frozen food section of that store, roughly the size of a small convenience store, used to house shelves and shelves of new and classic Bollywood movies. Store owner Dino Tailor says on weekends, he needed three people to staff the section by itself.

Now the video section of the store is relegated to a few shelves in a section that also sells African movies. Department manager Rajan Varma says demand for the movies has declined with much of the demand for the films being met by cable TV stations broadcasting ethnic programming as well as easily downloadable movies.

For Varma, the love for Indian cinema has dissipated.

"My wife and I like to watch the old movies, but we haven't watched anything for a long time," he says, suggesting that Bollywood cinema is facing the same problem as Hollywood: a lack of originality.

"It's the same old thing, remaking the older stories," he says. "There's nothing we want to watch."

And the bins of DVDs currently on display at Dino's?

"I'm just going to clear them out," he says.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 31, 2012 J14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

On the job with sea lion researchers

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A red squirrel peaks out of the shade in a tree in East Fort Garry, Sunday, September 9, 2012. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(  Standup photo)-    A butterfly looks for nector on a lily Tuesday afternoon in Wolseley-JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- June 22, 2010

View More Gallery Photos

  • Africa edition

    Africa is one complex and gloriously unmanageable 'theme' to choose to kick off our 2012 series, Our City Our World, which is why it took up the whole newspaper on Jan. 18.

  • China edition

    Hard-working Chinese immigrants, once banned, have risen to the highest echelons of Manitoba.

  • Germany edition

    German immigrants have played a surprisingly large role in the development of the province.

  • Iceland edition

    Arriving in Manitoba in the 1870s unprepared for a brutal winter, Icelandic settlers and their descendants have left their mark on our province.

  • Italy edition

    Industrious Italians rose from peasant roots and adapted to Canadian society by mastering L’art d’arrangiarsi (the art of getting by).

  • Latin America edition

    It used to be the only time Prairie folks met Spanish-speaking people was when they vacationed down south. More often now, they're the people next door.

  • Middle East edition

    When the first Middle East families immigrated to Manitoba, mosques were unheard of and even yogurt was exotic. But now all that has changed.

  • Philippines edition

    A booming Filipino community nearly 60,000 strong has transformed Manitoba.

  • South Asian edition

    As the city's Indo-Canadian population experiences dramatic growth, its pioneers recall their warm Winnipeg welcome.

  • Ukraine edition

    Scarred by Holodomor, the Ukrainian community helped shape Winnipeg's cultural mosaic.

  • United Kingdom edition

    Manitoba's history is built on a foundation provided by settlers from the U.K., who came here seeking better lives.

Poll

Should the federal government force band chiefs and councillors to disclose their salary information?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google