Depiction of Families in Bollywood Movies

9 Min Read

Maisha Islam Monamee

What comes to your mind when I talk about parivaar? Well, I immediately start imagining a joint family featuring the typical HUGE star cast dancing to old songs. And the music directors decide to get literally liberal with their tunes as there is a song for every moment — birth, love, death, pregnancy, fight, and the list could go till eternity. After lots of drama and emotional attacks, it eventually leads to a fancy reunion where everyone ends up being happy. Comparing Bollywood to real life is as silly as it sounds. Like come on, my bracelet never sticks to the sherwani of a business tycoon dancing at my friend’s wedding in a local neighbourhood! As stupid as it might be, we still end up corresponding our lives to the silver screen. Admit it, all of us have dreamt of belonging to the Raichand family at least once! And, who could refuse hundreds of cousins attending family functions? Just imagine, so many cousins and seconds and thirds would have made our lives so better, and family reunions less boring.

This piece would not be comparing or detesting ones who still dream of their SRK. It would rather discuss it all, from childhood favourites to the ones that failed to deliver what it intended to. It would (try to) talk about how different directors shaped our perceptions about family. So, fasten up your seat belts and keep a bowl of popcorn handy, you’re signing in for a jet-ride of reminiscence that could make you laugh, cry, and shout.

Imagine the typical Bollywood intro tune playing in the background.

Let’s start with the Super Sooraj Barjatya movies. From Hum Saath Saath Hain to Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, this man has delivered some of the most renowned fam goals on the silver screen. There are two things that are his signature strokes — too many unwanted songs, and Salman Khan! Well, the latter is true in the ones that were super duper hits. Now what makes these movies #majorfamgoals is the array of relatives and family events shown throughout the movie. Be it small town Vivah or royal Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, every time I watch his movies, I start imagining a life parallel to reality, where everything is near to perfection and even if it is not initially, things get better as the storyline progresses. Well, watching so many of your favourite stars living happily ever after undoubtedly imparts some crystal clear ideas of an ideal family, but, but, but…are all families that perfect?

Moving on to our next director, the unsuitable boy, Karan Johar. Some of KJo’s blockbuster movies revolved around portraying familial bonds on the big screen. Be it Kabhi Khushi Kabhi GhamKal Ho Na Ho, or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, we have grown up watching these movies on repeats! Frankly speaking, the last movie does induce a kuch, in fact bohut kuch, as we watch it now. The problem starts right from Rahul’s college days where he insults Anjali and then later ends up marrying her. Here comes a mindblowing 01/10 for this stupid story!

If you have noticed, all these films have one thing in common — unrealistic expectations. This is not all, as we are going to delve more into Bollywood films and state out a few ways they end up depicting la familia.

Richie Rich

Repeat after me — families like the grand Raichands do not exist in real life. Sorry, if I have burst your bubble of expectations, but you get some time to encounter the truth. Almost all blockbuster family movies launched in the last two-three decades have featured super-rich families and this is how the problem has started — people compare their lives. Now for films to be realistic, there has to be a relatable storyline. Our brothers do not give us surprise visits riding on a helicopter and after being thrown out of homes, no one can end up with a huge mansion in London, that too in a span of just a few years. Clearly, either KJo had gone wild or Rahul won the biggest lottery in the history of this universe. This is not just with fam movies, look at his Student Of The Year series, which was just made to launch star kids. I’m like, people do not go to colleges on their limousine, at least in a country like India. This is common even in Sooraj Barjatya’s movies, he literally invented a new kingdom for his movie.

Secret Subtleties  

Real life families, with parents busy balancing office and home, do not throw parties every week. They do not plan grand birthday parties and they have a lot to do in life, instead of just creating blunders. One thing Bollywood miserably fails in, is showing the subtleties of familial relationships. I am not talking about romance, so let me stop you from quoting examples right there! A real family’s struggles and ways of depicting love are a lot different than what we watch growing up. On the silver screen, if something goes wrong, you cry (a sad song plays) and then in the next segment, the problem vanishes. I do not want to sound like a pessimist but real life is a lot different. Here, we have a cool relationship with our dads, and our moms do not have to negotiate things. Moms do not prepare a table full of food when we return from work. But a call asking if we have eaten lunch is also love. In fact, expressions of love in real life are so subtle that we end up ignoring them amidst the glamour we are accustomed to.

Ridiculous Romance

Not only are Bollywood pick-up lines terrifyingly cheesy but they also put us, as an audience, in a dream world of expectations. This perfectly manages to mess up our notions about romantic relationships, as we begin fantasising even the slightest of things. And grace to the everlasting playlists curated by their musicians, breakups are harder to deal with and new love is like stepping into a fairy tale. We, therefore, struggle maintaining real life relationships and end us expecting a lot of things that only existed on the silver screen. To a certain extent, some movies also portray a rather problematic scenario with no ideas about consent and clearly glorifies harassment. The blockbuster DDLJ is just one example to quote the multiple mishaps this industry puts forward through its regular work.

To end with a sigh of relief, several Bollywood movies have started showing normal families that we, as a whole, can absolutely relate to. Be it the dreams of Angrezi Medium, or the tactics shown in Badhai Ho, the silver screen is progressing with better contents that address the audience in the right way. While movies like SOTY 2 continue to disappoint, the industry also curates gems like Chhichhore that makes it a diverse platform for a diverse audience.


The writer is a part of the TDA Editorial Team. 


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