Slumdog Millionaire's Irrfan Khan says Bollywood is "unimaginative" and failing to reach international audiences:

27.09.2013 21:34

"I think the songs are being used
unimaginatively," he told the BBC's Asian
"Earlier, in the 50s and 60s, we had our
own unique language and the songs were
used in a very imaginative way; songs
were the strength of the film".
"Now we have become complacent, the
songs have become a burden."
"That's why universal audiences from the
West cannot connect," he added.
"There's no credibility"
Khan has credits in more than 100 films,
including Bollywood hits Haasil and Paan
Singh Tomar. His English language films
include Life Of Pi and The Amazing
'Outstanding work'
He was speaking to Asian Network
presenter Bobby Friction as Hindi cinema
celebrates its centennial year: The movie
Raja Harishchandra, widely recognised as
Indian cinema's first silent film, was
released on the 3rd May 1913.
The actor made a cameo as a policeman in
multiple Oscar-winner Slumdog Millionaire
Asked what the milestone meant to him,
Khan said: "We don't have many sources
of entertainment - that is the reason we
have survived 100 years".
"There was outstanding work, fabulous
work which was done earlier. We had
fantastic directors, there were films
which were made in so-called Indian
style, with song and dance, but they used
to deal with complex problems; they used
to address the issues of society, but we
lost that magic.
"We have been surviving 100 years, but
it does not mean we have any reason to
celebrate it," he added.
The 46-year-old, who has starred in a
Hindi adaptation of Macbeth, said he had
tried throughout his career to avoid
lightweight films.
"There are films which are like a one
night stand: You indulge and you forget.
I don't enjoy those kinds of films very
"I try to do films which leave a longer
impact, which speak to you and which
keep coming back to you after you've
seen them, I prefer movies which have a
longer relationship."
New talent
Khan's latest production, The Lunchbox,
is the only Indian film to be selected for
competition at the London Film Festival
next month.
Already the winner of a viewers' choice
award at the Cannes Film Festival, it is a
delicate love story that centres around
the Indian system of "dabbawallahs" - a
community of couriers who pick up hot
meals cooked by housewives and deliver
them to their husbands' office desks.
The Lunchbox is in competition at the
London Film Festival next month
Khan plays a lonely accountant, who
mistakenly receives a lunchbox intended
for a colleague - and starts a clandestine
correspondence with his wife.
"The film has already connected to a
universal audience," said Khan.
"Even in India, the audience is growing
every week for these kinds of films, so
you can say [they] are newer commercial
Indian cinema."
He added that Bollywood had grown
"complacent" about reaching
international audiences, but said new
talent was "forcing" the industry to
confront the problem.
"There is a whole new generation of
directors who are dying to connect to
the universal audience. They are just
looking for the right opportunity."