If you’re a Bollywood film fanatic, you might be making some of these common mistakes without even realizing it. In many ways, the customs and norms of Bollywood are different from American movies. Here are things that Hollywood relies on to tell their stories that Bollywood often avoids. Vasco da gama bharat kab aaya?

1. Losers are not always even losers

It’s a conundrum for filmmakers: how to portray the dark side of a character without making them seem too negative, or without inciting the audience to cheer for them. When filmmakers realize that their heroes or victims should be portrayed as less-than-ideal, they often fixate on the most extreme and ridiculous ways in which they could be portrayed as failures. When you’ve actually seen Bollywood movie sets – you will come across what looks like two different sets with two distinct eras, with no sign of any productions in between.

2. The haters gonna hate

In the world of Bollywood, people are either addicted to social media, or they don’t use it at all. When it comes to describing characters who are addicted to social media: Indian filmmakers often play up the negative consequences of their protagonist’s excessive use of technology, but their over-the-top reactions can be so ridiculous that they come off as genuine parody. In contrast, Hollywood tends to focus on the benefits and drawbacks of using technology without getting carried away with simplistic stereotypes.

3. Time travel

Bollywood movies have a history of relying on time travel in order to fix everything from public humiliation to broken hearts and unrequited love. While filmmakers in Hollywood also use time travel from time to time, they do so in subtle ways. For example, the film Looper is about one man’s quiet mission to kill several versions of himself from different times.

4. The future can wait

In Bollywood movies, you may notice that the goal of traveling into space is not always to explore the wonders or mysteries of our universe, but rather for a more earthly reason: specifically to fix whatever went wrong with a couple’s love life. In Hollywood films, space travel represents the frontier for exploration and discovery.

5. Let it out

In Bollywood movies, people who are feeling down tend to dance around, break things and belt out their feelings at the top of their lungs (yes, this often ends up with a grande finale dance number and/or item song) – all of which allow them to release their feelings. While dancing for the sake of catharsis is a familiar trope in Hollywood films as well, filmmakers tend to show more restraint than Bollywood when it comes to portraying the consequences of such behavior. After all, if you’re dancing in your living room and suddenly you break something or hurt yourself, that’s not going to work very well.

6. The hero

In Bollywood films, the hero is often depicted as a saintly soul who can do no wrong. The films show his or her friends as kooky and eccentric, but also fairly talented in their own right. The heroine is usually unlikeable, even mean at times – but her feelings for the hero are so strong that they exceed all inhibitions. Hollywood films don’t seem to have this problem: they portray heroes and heroines who aren’t always good people and who don’t always have full control over their emotions (just like us mortals).

7. The villain

Bollywood always portrays their villains as the most vile creatures imaginable, especially when it comes to their hairstyles and wardrobe. Hollywood has some of these traits as well, but they are not so exaggerated that they become laughable. They also tend to focus on more subtle expressions of evil. For example, in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End , Anamaria (played by Zoe Saldana) is a pirate who was at one time a gentle girl who liked to read books.

8. The happy ending

In Bollywood films, everything works out for the best – even if it means changing the past or traveling through space. In Hollywood films, even the darkest moments are followed by a cathartic moment where things are finally resolved.

9. The romance

In Bollywood, the purpose of a love story is to prove that people can never be separated. If a couple breaks up or dies, it is always because they were meant to be together. Many Bollywood movies end with the heroine/hero dancing with her/his love interest before they embrace and live happily ever after. In contrast in Hollywood films, romance is portrayed as more complicated than just proving that people can’t be separated by tragedy – it has to do with real feelings and emotions.

10. The heroines

In Bollywood films, the women are often portrayed as delicate and fragile. In Hollywood films, women are much more diverse – they can be delicate, fragile or anything in between.

11. Family ties

Many films in Bollywood portray family ties as something that can never be broken – even if two lovers have to spend a few years apart before they are reunited for their happily ever after dance number. In contrast, Hollywood films sometimes depict family relationships as getting in the way of true love, or even being something that prevents you from being emotionally healthy.


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