A comprehensive look at Musicals from both Hollywood &Bollywood

Published by Shah Shahid on

Given the number of Bollywood film reviews on this Site, it may be surprising to hear that, I hate musicals. But hear me out. 

Growing up on Bollywood (not literally, I wasn’t actually there) and having a pretty shitty Bangladeshi Film Industry at the time, (known as ‘Dhallywood’; Dolly Parton should sue) I’m accustomed to watching and liking Indian movies. As happens when you get older, I smartened up, around the same time I looked up and pondered the existence of a Sky Daddy… but that’s another story. I got older and more into filmmaking, and started  viewing Indian films more objectively, from the perspective of a non South Asian… and thereby became more critical of the… non sensical elements. A major part of that crap, is the random breaking out into song and dance out of nowhere. But here’s why every film from Bollywood, though can be classified as a ‘musical’, aren’t the ones I hate.

Here’s a thorough breakdown of how Musicals from Hollywood differ from Bollywood.


1) Trailers featuring Indian stars shaking it on screen > dramatic montage of scenes and action sequences.  

Original soundtracks are a REQUIREMENT for any Bollywood film. Therefore the marketing of a film is always focused on special lavish and star studded music videos that act as a teaser or trailer of the film. At times a specific music video is created SOLELY for the purpose of promoting the film… becoming a film’s ‘First Look’ to the audience.


The promos of Bollywood films are ALWAYS planned releases of each individual music video from the movie that floods airwaves like Justin Bieber’s prepubescent face.

2) Money talks… or rather, sings.

Soundtrack figures factor into the financial success of the film. The Box Office success of a Bollywood film is almost always linked to how well the soundtrack does, and is usually an indicator of the commercial reception of the film.

The better the soundtrack, the more people flocking to theatres to catch their favourite star gyrating their hips to a wicked ass song with some semi naked ladies. If those ladies happen to be stars of the industry themselves… MAJOR plus point!


what this video did for Shilpa Shetty’s career… was insignificant. but DAMN does she look good!

3) Pee break.

Back in the day, it was usual for an Indian film to be 3+ hours long in run time. Yea, I know. It’s like every movie was TITANIC. So a tedious song and dance routine out of nowhere was a gift from God for the guy that ordered a Big Gulp right before heading into the theatre.

So the random song and dance, provided a much needed narrative break, as movies in those days was 65% sticking to the plot, and the other 35% was just filler like comic relief, bullshit subplots and other nonsense that had nothing to do with the storyline. Much like the songs… see where I’m going with this?


1) It’s relevant to the damn story!!

A Musical from Hollywood is just another genre of movies. By that I mean that, just as necessary it is in a Horror movie to have a sexy ass hottie running up the stairs into her room, instead of out the fuckin’ door when chased by a chainsaw wielding psychopath to advance the story… the song and dance routine is just as necessary in the Musical genre. It moves the story forward.

“I’m totally gonna go investigate that noise! I’m so like… independence!”

And this is why I hate musicals from any industry other than Bollywood. I don’t need to sit my ass through a painstakingly horrible rhyming scheme with equally horrible dance moves (see Chamak Challo from RA.ONE) in order to get the story of the movie.

I can get up and refill my drink. I can go get some snacks. I can weigh myself and feel bad at the amount of junk food I eat during movies, causing me to grab a bucket of Haagen Daaz during the next song break in depression.

Whatever the case, the songs in a Bollywood movie do nothing for the story, and can be skipped during the movie entirely. However in a Hollywood film, if you fast forward all the songs of the film, you’ve missed a huge chunk of the story. So I HAVE to pay attention to the actors singing horribly in their own voices, because it’s relevant to the damn story!!

Case in point: I like Tim Burton’s movies. I admire Johnny Depp. But there is no way in hell that I will ever watch SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET. (I will of course someday, it’s what I do) I have no interest in Johnny Depp singing his inner thoughts as character development for the story. Argh!!


why God?! WHY!?

Proposition to the Writers Guild of America:

Instead of adding subplots that go nowhere in Hollywood films, let’s take some pointers from Bollywood. If you need filler, don’t throw in an unnecessary love angle that’s forced; don’t add make more things blow up in needlessly extravagant, and practically impossible ways (I’m looking at you Michael Bay). Just thrown in a song and dance routine that happens completely outside of the narrative flow for 3 minutes, and then just go right into the next scene as if nothing happened. Seriously try it… there’s a reason Bollywood is the highest grossing film industry in the world.


this… but in the middle of the movie.

And no, GLEE doesn’t count. Don’t even get me started on GLEE. Fuckin’ GLEE…

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *