Indian Entertainment, by Om Shetty, 12I

India, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, is a land of rich history, culture and heritage. ‘Unity in Diversity’, truly the motto of our nation, as people with distinctly diverse cultures continue to live in harmony and co-exist peacefully in a multi-cultural society, appreciating each other’s differences. In this fast-moving nation, things are rapidly changing. Amidst the great hustle and bustle of everyday life, everyone, from a farmer toiling hard in the fields to the employees working a mundane 9-5 job, looks for some respite in the form of entertainment.

Entertainment in India has 2 major mediums, namely Cricket and Bollywood. Cricket, although originally from South-East England, is a sport that India has made its very own. From the ‘gullies’ of societies and open ‘maidaans’ to the world’s largest international cricket stadium, it’s a game celebrated all over the country, anytime, anywhere. It all began with the underdog success story of the Indian cricket team in the 1981 world cup. From Kapil Dev’s Famous ‘We here to win. What else we here for?’ to MS Dhoni’s ‘magnificent strike into the crowd’, there has been no looking back for Indian cricket. Ever since the 1981 world cup victory, the popularity of cricket has surged amongst Indians, attracting fans from all over the nation. Over the years, this cricket-frenzy nation has witnessed the rise of many cricketers as influential personalities, often worshipped as gods. This includes the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, revered as the ‘God of cricket’, MS Dhoni, the most successful Indian captain and Virat Kohli, the modern-day legend. Further, the commercial success of the IPL has boosted the reach of the sport, roping audiences into the world of crazy cricket fanaticism, entertaining matches, glamorous advertisements and whatnot. From casual audiences to ardent cricket fans, the IPL has everyone invested. Fans from all over the country tune in, sporting the jersey of their favourite team, shouting slogans in fervour and occasionally bantering along with rival fans, making the IPL an absolute craze-fest!

Moving on, if there’s any other entity remotely close to tapping widespread Indian audiences, it’s Bollywood. From its inception in 1932 by Dadasaheb Phalke, Bollywood has been an integral part of our lives, often influencing the youth, fashion and popular trends of the society. Part of the reason for the immense success of cinema in India has been the sense of escapism that it offers to the audiences, allowing them to retire from routine stress of life. The weekend releases used to be some spectacle: families rushing in through the gates, huge lines at the ticket counter and chirpy audiences seated with their popcorn and cold drinks, anticipating the commencement of the film. Over the years, Bollywood has produced some classics including period epics like ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, the evergreen ‘Sholay’, the Indian heart-throb ‘DDLJ’ and the public favourites ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’ and ‘3 Idiots’. The following years saw the rise of Global superstar Shahrukh khan as he led the wave of romantic films in the industry. Subsequently, the audiences were given a breath of fresh air as Aamir Khan presented them with some compelling stories: Taare Zameen par, Ghajini, 3 Idiots and Dangal to name a few. Simultaneously, Salman khan’s swagger and Akshay Kumar’s impeccable comic timing, ruled over the Indian genre of mass-action/comedy films (more commonly-known as ‘masala’ films). The craze of these superstars is real as audiences rush into the theatres to watch their films, FIRST DAY, FIRST SHOW. In fact, a lot of the trends amongst the youth were often influenced by films, stories, actors and their characters. Whether it be Sanjay Dutt’s long hair and physique, Shahrukh khan’s ‘open arms’ pose, Salman khan’s bracelet or the ‘chiffon saree’ worn by numerous female leads of classic Indian romantic films, all have managed to influence the lifestyle of the Indian audiences. As the popularity of these stars rises, people become increasingly curious about their personal lives, accounting for the growth of various celebrity magazines like Filmfare and Stardust.

Speaking of cinema, another widely popular medium of entertainment for Indians is television. Families often sit together at a designated time to watch their favourite TV serials. These range from the dramatic Indian daily soaps, award shows, comedy talk shows like ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’, the quiz show ‘KBC’, the stunt show ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ or even the current audience-favourite ‘Shark Tank India’. Furthermore, a few creative advertisements too, have managed to leave a mark on the audience’s minds, creating a sense of nostalgia for them every time they watch it. These include the famous ‘Mauka-Mauka’ ads, the ‘Center fresh’ ads or even the Kingfisher jingle.

Music is another popular source of entertainment for the masses. While older generations stick with their old songs and argue about the current quality of music, the Indian ‘Desi Hip Hop’ (abbreviated as DHH) scene is bursting amongst the young audiences. This surge in popularity has seen the rise of new-age artists like Emiway bantai, KR$NA, Divine and Raftaar.

Not to mention, with the advent of technology, social media has come at the forefront of entertainment due its ease of access. The huge variety of social media portals has made it easier for content creators to display their content to the audiences effectively with minimal resources. The various types of online content include podcasts, comedy sketches, gaming videos, vlogs and much more. Social media platforms serve as the global stage, opening the doorway to stardom for content creators to emerge as the modern-day superstars.

Although the Indian entertainment scene looks to be modernizing quite rapidly, us Indians still seem to have held on to our traditional forms of entertainment. Children still love to read their comics as it was in the times of the champak magazine or tinkle comics. Older generations still meet over tea and have some real, meaningful conversations. Our grandmothers often have their own ‘mandali’ of friends, as they meet to talk about the people in their neighbourhood and comment on their life. We still have folk tales and urban legends being passed on from generation to generation. The lifestyle and the methods of story-telling may have changed, but the interests remain similar nonetheless with of course a hint of additional creative inventions for entertainment. Regardless, life just goes on this ever-changing country of ours.

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