In The Armchair

Observation/Rant #003

Posted in Movies and Entertainment by Armchair Guy on July 27, 2008

The Era of Godfathers

It’s interesting how gangsters and mafias have taken over significant portions of the film industry.

Ten years ago that comment would have meant something different: gangsters were financing films in a big way back then. That has changed, partially thanks to the official classification of the Bombay film industry as an industry, which makes film financing through regular means easier.

What I mean here is gangster films: movies that have Bombay-style mafias and gangsters as a central plot element. I don’t quite know which movie started the trend: early ones include Parinda, Satya and Company. I think of Satya as the one that started the trend, though Parinda was an earlier film. The trend migrated from Bombay to the Telugu film industry. At least, I think that’s the direction it went although Ram Gopal Varma – director of Satya – started off in Hyderabad.

I view this genre as separate from other movies which feature outlaws in central roles, such as Robin Hood-themed films. The gangster genre usually has a remarkably uniform depiction of gangster organizations. There’s an all-powerful ganglord surrounded by subservient subordinates at various layered levels. There are a few trusted lieutenants, some people below them, and the rank and file. Some films within this genre depict the gangsters as fundamentally honourable people, others depict them as lacking any sense of ethics, so perhaps you could divide it into sub-genres.

What’s amazing is the number of films featuring such organizational setups, both in Bombay and Hyderabad.

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