Posted by Sari
Jukka was kind enough to borrow the pakistani vampire musical from 1967 and I am eagerly waiting to see it. it will be my first fooray to the dark underbelly of Lollywood...
I spent a much more refined week-end with only one movie, Kal Ho Naa Ho, the other of 2003s two blockbuster hits from Mumbai. Link takes you to the official site, be aware that the flash will take some time to load. Anyway, Tarja and I had this plan to go over her place for one of our periodical Bollywood binges where we watch maybe even three whole films (remember that the shorter BW movies are around three hours long...) with her cheap DVD player which agrees to play even the crappy bollywood quality DVDs. Unfortunately, I was dogsitting and had to cancel, but when I told Tarja that KHNH had just been delivered by the post, she decided to accept my invitation to come over instead.
And great time was had by all. Or at least the humans, I don't think Mommsen and My were very impressed. See, Bollywood is my way to unwind. I love musicals in all their incarnations, from Busby Berkeley's rows of chorus girls and Arthur Freed Unit's cenemascope extravaganzas to Cameron McIntosh produced West Ends spectacles. Bollywood has all that golden age hollywood had but from the occidental perspective it has it with exotic twists. The dancing derives from indian traditions which stresses much more upper body movements and looks thus different, the music is at least to my ears very danceable ethnopop, and the unabashed melodrama of the plots is just something that you can't really find in western cultural producs. (One could argue soaps aim for similarily melodramatic plot twists, but they lack Bollywood's fascination with the operatic themes of love and (filial) duty).
Add to this the totally unabashed sexualisation of male body by allowing both the male and the female stars to be the 'passive' objects of the "male gaze", the interesting structures by which Bollywood's romantic melodramas uphold (and sometimes even subvert) the cultural standards, and Shah Rukh Khan and I am sold.
Despite its James Bondey name Kal Ho Naa Ho (For Tomorrow May Never Come) is a big budget vingage romantic melodrama. It is the story of a Desi family living in New York whose father has committeda suicide which is tearing the family slowly to pieces. Things change when the nephew of their next-door neighbour comes to visit and starts to help everybody with their problems. The cast lead by Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywod's uncrowned king is excellent, fusion-pop music score works for me (the Bhangra-version of Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman just rocks), and production values are top notch.
It is of course cotton candy with large helping of cheese, but I like that rather unexpected flavour :-)