"A lot of people in India would criticize me for it, but I think you need a huge amount of Western writing help to get the form. The creative should be the same, Indian creative," he said.
Bollywood is entering a new phase featuring better and more diverse films, said Mumbai-based film critic Aniruddha Guha — even as it continues to make the traditional three-hour "masala" blockbusters featuring, song, dance, adventure and romance to appeal to a broad Indian audience.
"The difference is in that the number of good films being made each year — and by good, I mean films that attempt to tell a story without falling for conventional traps, (and) which are technically sound and largely display good acting — have been going up," he said.
He said Hollywood has both the massive blockbusters, which are often of questionable artistic value, and well-crafted smaller films that appeal to a different kind of audience.
"Bollywood needs to strike that balance," he said.
"If you want to be attractive to European or American audiences, you have to be more than just traditional culture," said actor Abhay Deol, known as a rebel in the industry for often bucking the standard Bollywood approach. "I don't think until we break that traditional mold, we will be able to break into that crossover."
Director Jha, who began his career in India's small alternative film sector, has made a name for himself by making controversial films about daily problems, including the trademark song and dance.
His 2012 film "Chakravyuh," which also starred Deol, focused on the crushing poverty that has sparked a Maoist revolt in central India, yet still had the love story and the songs — including one that ran afoul from the censor board for its ridicule of country's biggest business family names.
"There are two Indias. One is bright, shining and developing into heaven, and there is a whole big India that is suffering," he told The Associated Press. "The battle in the forest has now spilled into the neighborhoods."
He admitted that to make his films work commercially he has to tone down the criticism and the realism, but at least they get the ideas out. India's Maoist rebels actually praised the movie for trying to tackle the issues, though they quibbled about some aspects of it.
For now, India's classic song and dance fantasies continue to enthrall crowds in Marrakech and elsewhere, but the world may soon be seeing a different face to Bollywood.
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