Hollywood has its own rules too and some of it is prudish!

Five things Indian movies will show you that Hollywood wont
Features Cinema Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - 18:30

You know all the jokes people make about Indian films never showing what Hollywood movies dare to? We’re prudes who’d rather show flowers kissing than two human beings doing it. Well, every industry has its own rules and Hollywood has a few too. Here are five things you commonly see in Indian movies but almost never in a Hollywood flick.

Naked babies: Hollywood is all right with showing naked adults but is very careful about showing naked children, even in non-sexual contexts. Yes, it’s true that while adults can give their consent to act without their clothes, children cannot.

But is it always about consent? I was watching the animation film “Storks” which is about a delivery service for babies run by the birds. There is a shot which shows a naked baby tumbling down the baby-making machine but where the baby’s genitals should have been is a big blank. The baby is then hastily wrapped in a nappy. There’s no question of consent here, considering the baby isn’t real.

Was it because it’s a children’s movie? But so what? Sex education begins pretty early in the West and anatomically detailed boy dolls and girl dolls are available to teach very young kids about the body and good touch-bad touch. Considering there was nothing sexual at all about the scene in “Storks”, what was the harm in showing a baby the way it is?

Indian movies, on the other hand, are very careful about showing naked adults but are perfectly all right with showing naked babies and small children. Admittedly, we can afford to have more rules about this but well, if we’re prudish about certain things, Hollywood has its own prudery too.

Men being affectionate with each other: Hollywood films frequently feature gay couples and they are mostly shown with dignity. Even in children’s movies, the film-makers make sure that there’s adequate “diversity” and “representation”. But Hollywood movies rarely show men touching each other if they’re not gay. An awkward hug at best is all that can be shown.

Indian movies, on the other hand, almost never show gay couples unless they’re parodying them. But bros do everything from sleeping next to each other - bodies entwined - to feeding each other with great affection. In the Tamil film “Thenkasi Pattanam”, Sarath Kumar even bathes his friend Napolean!

Hitting dogs: I don’t quite know what’s with Hollywood and dogs. I was watching “Don’t Breathe” in which a drooling Rottweiler is charging at the protagonists. It’s pretty clear that the dog has only one agenda in its head: rip their throats. But what do these folks do? They trick the dog and shut it inside a room.

In “The Omen” series, too, the hellhound – a dog straight out of hell, mind you – only gets trapped and locked away.

In an Indian film, it’s likely that the hero would have lifted the attacking dog (with one arm) and chucked it out of the window. We’re okay with showing people throwing stones at dogs too.

Even over-the-top politically incorrect Hollywood comedies like “You don’t mess with the Zohan” and “The Hangover” series which portrayed animal abuse as funny, stayed clear of messing with dogs.

Only when the film is about an insufferable dog like Cujo who cannot be saved in any way because he has rabies, will Hollywood dare to show a dog coming to some kind of harm from the people we’re supposed to like.

Slapping children: Just as it’s not okay to show the good people hitting a dog in Hollywood movies, it’s not okay to show them hitting a child either. Unless it’s explicitly shown as child abuse…in which case, it would be the bad people doing it. Just to be clear, it’s not as if parents in the West don’t ever indulge in corporal punishment although it is frowned upon a lot more there than it is here.

In Indian movies, a tight slap is a sign of love. Parents can hit their adult children and smaller ones too. Why just parents, any adult can hit a child and sometimes, it can even be funny! Remember this scene from “Punnagai Mannan”? You’d never find something like this in a Hollywood film.

Body hair on men: Yes, Pierce Brosnan was famous for his chest hair but that was in the 90s. Hollywood has done away with body hair since then even for its male stars. If some of them continue to sport it, it becomes “exotic”, something to write about. In Indian films, especially South Indian ones, body hair on men is still something we’re cool with. Nothing to make a song and dance about anyway.

This might soon change though. Bollywood has already smoothed out its men and in the South, actors like Suriya have done away with chest hair in sequences that require them to be shirtless. Malayalam films still have hairy heroes but who knows for how long before the deforestation happens!

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