The Green Dollar


Bollywood is song and dance. Bollywood is named after Hollywood for its independent and sizeable industry with the boogie edge. What will Singawood look like if there is to be one?

Given the way our society has been carved for 40 years, theatre and the arts stand on the side while the urgency of survival as a republic took over. The arts has always been Sir Stanford Raffles’ wish for the new Temasek so as to futher human civilisation in the newly acquired British colony. Literature and music were brought over from Britain and to this day, British ballet and music graded exams are held away from public schools and seen only as extra curriculum, unlike physical education, where there is at least the physical fitness test once a year.

The Indian culture is distinctive with its bindis, saris and Punjabis. In modern India, Bollywood women are still born beautiful and Bollywood men, still born to charm. That’s what makes good no-brainer saucy entertainment which sells itself. I am being totally honest when I say Bollywood plots are often unimaginative, scripted to give audiences temporary romance relieve over their arranged marriages with dream pairings, portrays the judgmental class system and  oils the Indian’s imagination of royalty and prestige. Their audience is mostly local, but the fact that they have attractive stars makes them recognised internationally as well, indirectly branding the nation. Let’s just say they are blessed with Bollywood, not that they worked very hard for it.

Singapore is different altogether. It seems like directors like Eric Khoo and Jack Neo like to play up the underground and crooks in Singapore, which unfortunately can’t match up to Hong Kong’s crooks. Have not watched Glen Goei’s The Blue Mansion yet, but from the trailer, it looks like a funny movie with great cinematography and set designs. But in Singapore, we fail to see this but instead focus on the fact that it has too many love-making scenes, which probably will be what Singaporean audiences will remember most given their lack of interest in many things, including trying to understand the humour amidst straight faces. So I applaud the R21 rating to it. The fact that it is R21 after stripping off most of the erotic bits, seems to me that on this land, we are most eager to disappoint. The most erotic ever films are shown in R21 and even with this rating, we can’t see what the world can see. No wonder some of those who venture out into unknown grounds often get shocked, hypnotised or shot, unprepared by the uncensored liberty outside of the bubble.

I watched a youtube clip from Roystan Tan’s “15” and a few others by him before and again felt that the director was thrilled by gangs and crime and wanted to portray that to the audience. It may be the director’s way of escaping into a world full of suspense without actually feeling the gore of it. But what is the purpose of such films? I can imagine leaving the cinema feeling pretty corrupted in the mind. No food for thought, no planting of hope. Is it possible for Singaporeans to produce feel-good family comedies more often? Can more movies without sad or depressing undertones like the ones with Adam Sandler be made? Has anyone here tried to make visually breathtaking movies never mind the plot like ? It’s difficult to explain how. Only someone with talent can do it to illustrate.



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