Bollywood and gastronomy: An ever-evolving entwined relationship


Bollywood movies have a strong connection with gastronomy culture. Here is how this has been a two-way communicative and adaptive relationship.

Bollywood movies are among the most effective means of communication, and society does pick up some knowledge or experience. Bollywood movies have also reflected the culture and depicted social issues.

According to Oxford Learner’s dictionary, “culture” is the traditions, values, aesthetics, way of life and social structure of a specific nation or group Every element of our way of life is included, including the food we consume, the clothes we wear, the language we use, and the God we serve. It contains everything about it. The Indian word “Sanskriti,” which is related to the word “culture,” is used. It stands for a collection of common beliefs, ideals, and behaviours.

Bollywood films served as an important source of inspiration for the development of Indian culture and they also provided examples of Indian faiths, cuisines, dance, music, languages, attire, and other aspects of Indian culture for us to observe.

The development of Bollywood, from the first movie “Raja Harishchandra” to Bollywood’s more commercial films, has played a significant role in shaping the mindsets of the community by reflecting or developing new trends. The audience was influenced by this, and soon even they wished to adopt their way of life. Bollywood movies’ emphasis on westernization has had a significant impact on how Indians dress and live, including their food habits.

Food is regarded as both a basic need and a way of life. Today, it is not only prepared and consumed, but also watched. Here are some Bollywood movies from the 1950s to the present era that depict society’s gastronomy culture:

  • Bollywood films’ depictions of food-related scenes have changed, but not much. In the scene from Chori Chori (1956), which is actually the film’s second scene showing the “bhutta,”. In the first scene, “Kammo” refuses down bhutta when Sagar (Raj Kapoor) gives it to her while assisting her in fleeing from modern-day bounty hunters. Days later, a changed Kammo and a sad Kammo, profoundly in love with a man she will never see again, cannot bear the rich delicacies on the table and instead requests roasted bhutta. Throughout the scene, many emotions can be seen.
  • This aspect of food comes through Rajesh Khanna’s “Bawarchi” where Rajesh Khanna’s eponymous “Bawarchi promised Harindranath Chattopadhyay’s character shukto and three hundred or so types of chutney in Bawarchi (1972). He also made kababs out of elephant yams. There was Amitabh Bachchan, secretly filling himself on a thali full of puris and other delights in Do Aur Do Paanch, only to be stuffed all over again by a swarm of small children, all orchestrated by a cunning rival (Shashi Kapoor).
  • There are many scenes in the 1994 film, Hum Apke Hain Kaun and Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999) where the scenes show the entire joint family eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner together. The tables were piled high with delicious delicacies. Everyone at the table was enjoying the food and engaged in lively conversation.
  • However, the trend of sitting and eating together, or eating with loved ones, is gradually diminishing. We saw largely cafeteria scenes with groups of people who appeared to be friends sitting about and conversing over tea, coffee, or any soft drink. As in the scene from Mohabbatein (2000) in which Sameer, a student, was working in a café. On the occasion of Rose Day, many people gathered in that cafe to celebrate the day. They were ordering various snacks and soft drinks, which are not considered Indian food items.
  • In the film Baghban (2003), Amitabh Bachhan was seen eating at a cafeteria on occasions. There was a scene in which Amitabh Bachhan pretended to be having dinner and holding a plate full of delicious dishes of various vegetables (cauliflower, peas, ladyfingers) but Hema Malini caught him, it depicts the lifestyle shift in society where his son went outside for dinner with his wife and son but didn’t keep anything for his father to eat.
  • In the film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), we witness a group of friends enjoying a nice meal together at a restaurant outside while travelling to appreciate every single moment of life.
  • In the first entrance song of the film, Wake up Sid (2009), we watch the male lead eating various random snacks like sandwiches in the middle of the night.
  • In a scene from Humpty ki Dulhania (2014), Alia Bhatt joins her family at the dining table. We can see her mother using a knife to put butter on the bread, and they were eating bread and butter, drinks, fruits, and so on.

All of these films demonstrate how gastronomy cultural distinctions exist, and what we see here are food preferences and the environment. Both are subject to change. There were hardly any cafes or luxurious restaurants where people could go during the period of the Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999) movie. Even if they had in fewer numbers then also those places were very moderate looking and simple. These scenes demonstrate a disparity in food preference and a decisive difference. These movies depict that indirectly society’s gastronomy culture is creating an impact on Bollywood.

Over the past 50 years, there have been notable modifications to the typical Indian’s dietary habits. Western products, eating habits, and the modernization and industrialization of the food production process have all had a considerable impact in recent years. Changes in diet have been influenced by a variety of variables, including income, food costs, personal tastes and beliefs, cultural traditions, social, etc.

Nowadays, it is more common to chat with friends over a cup of coffee in a café rather than with family at a dinner table at home eating homemade basic dishes. It’s also a trend to eat in small portions, which was not the case previously. Because we are all working around the clock to prove ourselves, we have little time to eat comfortably.

Many people breaking off into little families, which were previously joint families, are largely represented in the film “Hero No. 1” (1997). In the film, the male lead attempted to resolve family issues and bring the family back together. The family used to eat separately in their rooms in the first but subsequently began eating together again at the end of the movie. In the movie, every individual had different food tastes ranging from a young girl who doesn’t like homemade food to an old man liking homemade dishes.

In the film “3 Idiots” (2009), we see the three lead characters eating on the floor at their friend’s house. The entire scene is shown in black and white. They were all eating “Rotis” with “Paneer Sabji.” This scene portrays how the Indian gastronomy culture used to be for some individuals. The lady who was cooking was seen cooking on an old-fashioned stove that is still used by villagers.

Food is something we constantly appreciate in Indian culture. It represents happiness and enthusiasm. Instead of having a proper meal, western culture has persuaded us to go out after work and eat at a restaurant or grab something on the go. These films depict how our society’s eating habits and lifestyles have evolved over time. Although Bollywood films have also an impact on society.

Bollywood’s impact on gastronomy culture in society:

However, in films such as “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi” (2008), we experienced the thrill of participating in a “spicy golgappas” battle. Sure, dining at a five-star restaurant is elegant, but eating “garam-garam” bread pakora from a roadside booth is far more thrilling and enjoyable. Many of us enjoy the exhilarating feeling of eating street food in a desi way. These films are the films that show the beauty of simplicity in Indian foods. These films also had an impact on society as well as we all try to get that exact food item for us sometimes or try to follow what they are eating.

We’re all noticing a shift in Bollywood’s portrayal of food-related scenes, which, in some ways, correctly represents our society’s journey from eating simple “daal chawal” to eating one piece of pizza at a trendy cafe or a pricey restaurant. Both our society’s gastronomy culture and Bollywood are influencing each other.

Also Read: Indian food: Five bites, for the world!

(Purbasha Palit is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)


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