I was just cruising through Blogland reading various accounts of the Sydney Grogblog, when I stumbled upon Agent FareEvader's mention of the Bollywood Marsala International Film Festival 2004 which is hitting Melbourne in a couple of days. Canberra has just hosted this festival, and it is such good fun. I'm kicking myself that we only got to catch 2 of the films, but they were absolute beauties.
Best Beloved has spent a fair bit of time in India, travelling and studying, so is always keen to partake of a bit of Bollywood. Our DVD collection is getting pretty colorful as well. His theory is that it's not Bollywood without a Wet Sari Scene, a theory which held up quite well for the two very different films we saw, Chameli and Main Hoon Na.
Chameli is not classical Bollywood, although it has a lot of the elements. The storyline is almost Pretty Woman; prostitute meets rich man and changes his perceptions about the trade and they fall in love. This is a classier version. It takes place over one night, and the set is used very dramatically, almost like a stage production. It is set in monsoon season, so it is constantly raining, which on one hand provides the curtains for the 'stage' atmosphere, and also allows a manditory wet sari scene. I loved this movie. I highly recommend it.
The other movie we saw in the festival was a classic Bollywood production: Main Hoon Na (2004). Set in gorgeous Darjeeling, it had the baddest (and cheesiest) of baddies, the goodest of goodies, the most beautiful of beauties (and a wet sari scene) and the most fabulous costumes. It had a touch of Grease to it, especially at the end. Lots of humour, excitement, special effects, singin and dancing. The script is written and directed by a woman, Farah Khan, who pays homage to traditional Bollywood, and injects it with very a modern sense of fun and politics. There are a number of Matrix-like effects, including a brilliant spoof involving mucus. If you only get to see one film in this festival, I think it should be this one, although I have to warn you that it is over three hours long (not that I even noticed).
When I say 'we' only saw two movies, I should add that Best Beloved went to a third by himself, which was Ab Tak Chappan, a gritty police-based thriller, which he really enjoyed.
If you are in Melbourne, go along to the festival, and tell me if you can understand a word said by the sponsor of the festival in his pre-film blurb (no peeking at the programme)! If you know anyone in Melbourne, tell them about it. And check if the festival is heading your way, because it's too good to miss.