Just watched AK vs AK, loved it!!! And it made me think about all the other behind the scenes Hindi films that really greyed the line between fact and fiction, and gave you something close to a glimpse of the real industry.
Kaagaz Ke Phool
This is just a beautiful film about love and art and sacrifice and fate, and also about the film industry. It released in 1959 but it is set earlier than that, the late 30s and 40s studio era. Our hero is a genius film director who discovers a beautiful natural talent. They fall in love, but she leaves him because he is married. After that, he falls into a depression and loses his success, while she goes on to be a great actress. It’s a wonderful film in general, but also lets you see the busy world of the 1940s studios, the era of the king directors, the crowded confusing sets, the fun location shoots, all of that.
A unusual film, about half the cast is just playing themselves. Our heroine is a schoolgirl with a crush on Dharmendra the actor. Her uncle arranges for her to visit sets and meet Dharmendra for real in hopes that it will kill the fantasy. It’s just a sweet little coming of age story about movie star crushes, but along the way you get to see the 1970s studio lots and studio life, with character actors and stars and lot workers all mixing together.
This is the film with the least film content, because ultimately it is a love story more than a film story. Our heroine is an aspiring actress who gets a big break. But the real story is the affect her change in status has on her love story with her childhood best friend. We do get to see a couple industry parties, which is fun, and a few filming scenes, but it’s less about the magic of the movies and more about how the magic of the movies is a fantasy and love is real.
Luck By Chance
Arguably the best film to learn about the industry. Made by a film industry brat, starring industry players, and showing everything from the scuzzy hanger own “art” producers, to the old school low class tacky producers, to the aging tough surviving actors. What it shows more than anything is that the industry is a world where you make your own luck, nothing is ever fair, whether it is casting couch or nepotism or anything else.
I Hate Luv Storys
This is a really silly one. But it’s nice to be silly! Our hero and heroine work for a modern corporate studio, a fake Dharma studio headed by a fake Karan Johar who is full of enthusiasms but also mentorship. The film makes fun of all the over the top sets and silly romances and empty stars, and tedious dull work that goes on in the background. But it also shows you the modern world of the studios, with young educated enthusiastic folks going to work everyday to do whatever they are told to do.
So brilliant! Shahrukh Khan playing himself and showing us his life, personal appearances and stage shows and family life and everything else. The title is “Fan”, but it is as much about stardom as it is fandom.
AK vs AK
And our newest one! Really digs into the new extreme art film world, which I love. We see Anurag Kashyap as an egotistical artist with little real world power, we see his obsessive followers who believe in Cinema, we see in contrast the falling power of a minor star like Anil Kapoor who is known by taxi drivers but not respected by the young hip people of the city.