Gali Gali Chor Hai: Political reality shaping narrative (not just) in Bollywood

Lately all the movies that we are watching here in the US, from comedy to drama, have at their heart people either out of work, getting the pink slip, searching for jobs while relationships crumble or have to reinvent themselves after calamity strikes, as if filmmakers want to tell us, do not despair. There is a way to wiggle yourself out of financial doom, open your own business, learn a new skill, it may be hard for a while but don’t give up. The Company Men, Horrible Bosses, Larry Crowne, One for the Money (coming up) you can hardly escape the sense of  an economy at the verge of collapse in the movies.  Sure, you got it in Bollywood too: In Anjaana Anjaani, Ranbir Kapoor‘s character Akash wants to commit suicide after gambling away his company and coworkers’ savings, or was it the Wall Street Crash..  In general, though, you will see a new positivism transpiring in Bollywood. You will know what I mean if you watch movies like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara,  Aisha,  Band Baaja Baarat. India’s economy is doing better than ours.  The middle class is gradually expanding, education is rising, consumerism is the new way of life. Indians who lived abroad now want to go back to their homeland which offers more opportunity.

But there are other realities in India, too. It’s not all rose-water and honey. Life can be complicated in India. Corruption permeates all facets of life, all classes, but especially the top.  Social activist Anna Hazare being  the frontrunner of a social movement fighting corruption and who wants to eradicate  the big C-demon, has been making headlines in India for quite a while now with his tireless efforts to pass the  Lokpal Bill, which is aimed at creating a more transparent system. But I am not a pro, so I don’t know exactly what the bill aims at.

I love romance and light-hearted Bollywood movies  but I find it extremely interesting to listen in on the social commentary of Indian films. It highlights the plight of the people best and sheds light on realities that get shoved under the table, politically. Everyone in India is sick and tired of corruption, only those who gain from it financially oppose all reforms.  So if joblessness is what we see represented in Hollywood, then corruption is the theme India deals with, sometimes in a humorous way, sometimes it gets rough.

For a first screening of Gali Gali Chor Hai (opening Febr 3rd), Anna Hazare was invited, so I am thinking  A) it’s about corruption and B) it must be good or else he wouldn’t show up :-) I don’t know if it will make it to the screens here in the US, though but it will be available later on DVD.





Here are a few memorable Indian movies,  laden with political discourse or satire:


Raajneeti: tt1291465

Rann: tt1451797

Sakar Raj tt0490210

Khosla Ka Ghosla  tt0466460

Bandit Queen tt0109206

Phas Gaye Re Obama

Peepli Live tt1447508



feel free to add others :-)









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