Comedy is by far the toughest genre to make across all the film industries; and often, the highest grosser too. If you get it right, you could rake in millions in days; and if you get it wrong, you could fall flat on your face. But that’s not what we are here to discuss. Different film industries make different kinds of comedies. Or let us put it in another way- different kinds of comedy movies become successful in different societies, and that tells you a lot about the society.
We will focus ourselves on two of the big film industries in the world – Bollywood and Hollywood – compare the kinds of comedies that work in either cinema, and what they tell about the society. If you see hit comedy movies in Hollywood over the last decade or so, you will see a major splattering of sex comedies or movies that have a lot of sex humor. Be it the unusual Hangover or the out sex comedy American Pie, or Scary Movies, each one has a major chunk of sex humor. On the other hand, if you see hit comedy movies in Bollywood over the last decade or so, sex humor is conspicuously absent, barring a few exceptions here and there like Kya Kool Hai Hum.
The splattering of sex humor in Hollywood comedies and the near absence of it in Bollywood clearly draws the line between the Asian and the Western culture. While Westerners are more comfortable about discussing their sexuality, Asians are a lot more prude and would much rather discuss sex within the closed doors of the bedroom. But the cynical out there would point out – Hangover was as much a hit in India as it was in the US. Well, that’s not the complete truth. Hangover was a success in India only in Tier I cities, where the audience is more westernized. The distributors of the movie didn’t even feel it worthy enough to release it in Tier II and Tier III cities, simply because there is no audience present for such movies.
When it comes to Bollywood, people would go for slapstick comedy movies like Hera Pheri and Dhamaal or comedies like Munnabhai and 3 Idiots which have a social message hidden in them. A high percentage of Bollywood comedies would rather have toilet humor than sex humor. In fact, on a close comparison, toilet humor is rampant in Bollywood comedy movies and almost absent in Hollywood. Be it Hera Pheri or the most recent Delhi Belly, most Bollywood comedies have toilet humor.