Sunday, September 11, 2005

I heart Bollywood

My fondness for Colin Firth as the ultimate man is being severely challenged every time I clap eyes on any of Shahrukh Khan's movies. I have become a Bollywood groupie, and if I can't find a t-shirt with his face on the front then I'll damn well make my own.

Current favorites are:
-- Paheli, about a ghost who falls in love with a bride and impersonates her new husband to win her love;

--Main Hoon Na, a fabulous mix of Die Hard and Grease, Indian/Pakistan terrorist plot crossed with High School romantic musical, very funny;

-- Devdas, visually stunning and heartbreaking drama about a lost love.

But I'm not really writing this about him, just thought I'd introduce you to the Bollywood concept of gorgeous guys and gals, wild costumes and often really odd storylines. I saw a doozie last night, called Salaam Namaste (which apparently translates as "Hello hello")...

Salaam Namaste is totally set and filmed in Melbourne! It's a hoot, with all the usual Bollywood devices, albeit in bikinis and miniskirts rather than traditional costume -- not a sari in sight! The hunk is not Shahrukh Khan, but he's just as gorgeous: Saif Ali Khan, all abs and pecs and a good square jaw. Preity Zinta is the feisty heroine, and I finally got to witness Tanya Zaetta in action, after hearing that she's broken out of Aussie tv into Bollywood. She's pretty lame, but probably the best actress of all the wooden Australian chickie babes they dragged out of modelling agencies for the bikini and pub-crawl eye candy.

What interested me about this movie is that most Bollywood films are made to be very sexy but without sex, or even mouth-to-mouth kissing. Salaam Namaste not only has proper kissing, but inferred sex, co-habiting without marriage and a heated debate about abortion. It also talks of women rebelling against their parents' wishes, and while it goes a bit far in attempting to show that women can have intelligent careers (she is a doctor studying to be a surgeon while DJing in her spare time) rather than just marrying, it at least tries. The fact that the girl ends up marrying the boy and having the bab(ies) is only disappointing if you watch the film from a western perspective.

The Melbourne settings are great, although I thought the director took a fair bit of artistic licence on the logistics! I don't know Melbourne well, but I think that having a beachside house (I don't think it was portside) and being able to ride your bike to your job in the CBD is not very viable.

Some of the 'minor' characters are terrific, especially the radio station owner. The 'Crocodile Dundee' landlord was funny for a while, then wore a bit thin, but the audience around me loved him, quoting him constantly through the intermission (the other great thing about Bollywood -- they don't stint on time nor loo breaks).

If Salaam Namaste comes to you, go to it. It's a lot of fun. and try to see Shahrukh in any of the other movies mentioned above. He's just got that certain something, and I know a lot of people agree with me... his fan site even has a gallery of his best and worst hairstyles!


harry said...

The US pisstake of Bollywood-meets-the-US called "The Guru" is well worth seeing. It has Heather Graham in it.

I have predictably seen 'Monsoon Wedding', 'Fire' and 'Earth'. And I liked all of them, but I haven't really been tempted to watch a real Bollywood musical.

Ampersand Duck said...

yeah, I liked The Guru.

You should see Salaam Namaste. It's a good intro to the true Bollywood style. Apparently a Bollywood film is nothing without a wet sari scene; since this film has no saris, there's a wet towel scene, which isn't quite as good. Wet silk rocks.