Beyond Bollywood Beats: Why Indians Dance in Life and Film

  While exploring the slums of Mumbai, I suddenly heard someone playing music. Following the sound, I walked over and saw several young people dancing to the music. Although they were not professional, they were full of dynamics. Later, I accidentally attended a local wedding. At the wedding banquet, the guests suddenly began to squirm to the music. The atmosphere at that time made people feel that it would be disrespectful to not dance along for a few steps, which forced me, who cannot dance, to dance awkwardly.
  Unlike domestic square dancing aunts who dance at fixed points every day, Indians seem to suddenly start dancing inadvertently – just like in Bollywood movies. Music is the switch that turns on Indians to dance and instantly activates their artistic cells.
  Indians love singing and dancing so much, which is closely related to the local traditional religion. Hinduism is the most influential religion in the country. Shiva, an important god in Hinduism, can be regarded as the ancestor of Indian dance and is also revered as the “God of Dance” by Indians. It is said that Shiva can dance 108 kinds of dances, which are divided into soft dances for women and vigorous dances for men.
  Shiva dances when he is happy and when he is sad. His dance represents both death and rebirth. For Hindus, the power of role models is infinite. If you don’t know how to dance, you may be embarrassed to go to the temple to worship Shiva. It is precisely with such an atmosphere that Hindus began to express their understanding of religion through dance, using expressions, gestures, and bodies to express respect for God. This religious custom gradually developed into secular life, and people began to express their emotions through dance.
  I encountered several scenes in India where people suddenly danced, and I suddenly thought of Bollywood movies – countless Chinese people joked about it as “dancing at the slightest disagreement”. No matter what the theme of the movie is, comedy, suspense, murder, gun battle… singing and dancing are all standard. Even if it doesn’t fit in with the plot, the director will forcefully insert a section that catches people off guard.
  Why do Indian movies love dancing so much? Apart from the fact that people in India love to dance in their daily lives, there are many more reasons.
  First of all, as the most populous country in India, the illiteracy rate is also considerable. According to statistics, the illiteracy rate among Indian women exceeds 30% and the illiteracy rate among men is 20%. With such a large illiterate population, the threshold for watching movies has become a problem. If the plot is slightly complicated, many people will encounter challenges in understanding.
  India is also a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual country, and not everyone can understand the dialogue in the movie. Therefore, if a movie wants to make money in India, it must attract audiences with low literacy levels and who speak different languages ​​into the cinema at the same time.
  Song and dance perfectly solve this problem, because singing and dancing can bridge the cultural and language barriers. This is like many people who don’t understand English and American culture, but still like Michael Jackson very much. In this way, Indian audiences of all ethnic groups completed a collective audio-visual enjoyment in the lively and cheerful singing and dancing atmosphere of the movie. As long as you are happy, no one will care about what the movie is about.
  In addition to the market strategy considerations of film producers, ordinary Indians also believe that musicals are more cost-effective. Indians generally have average incomes. I asked the locals that their monthly salary is only about 500 to 600 yuan, and the price of a movie ticket, especially in lower-grade cinemas, is only 78 yuan. It can be said that going to the movies is one of the cheapest entertainment activities.
  In order to earn back the ticket price, audiences usually use two criteria to judge the quality of a movie: whether the movie is long enough; whether there are many songs and dances.
  I found that Indian movies rarely last more than an hour. Basically, they all start at two hours, and more than three hours is normal. For film production companies, long films mean more costs. In order to save money, the most cunning and cutting-edge way is to add more song and dance plots. Singing and dancing saves the producer costs and also satisfies the audience. It can be said that everyone is happy.
  Finally, there is another explanation for why Indian movies “dance whenever they disagree”, but I think it may not be reliable, that is, the song and dance scenes are to give the audience time to go to the toilet. However, based on my experience in Indian cinemas, the more there is a song and dance plot, the more enthusiastic the audience will be, and they will even stand up from their seats and dance along. On the contrary, the lengthy plot becomes a “peeing point”.
  As a former British colony, India’s early films were deeply influenced by Western musicals. The first talkie film shot by Indians, who are good at learning, was a musical, and it was a great success as soon as it was released. In subsequent films, all those with singing and dancing performed well at the box office. Gradually, this song and dance form has become the basic model of Indian films.
  Nowadays, Indian songs and dances have become synonymous with Indian movies and even become a cultural symbol of India. Based on this alone, people have to admire the magic of the movie.

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