Bollywood cinema - what it was: very melodramatic, with cast of thousands dance numbers, sari clad women and bad acting. What it is: somewhat melodramatic cinema, often but not always with cast of thousands dance numbers, seldomly sari clad women anymore and better acting.
I love and miss a big screen. I love sitting down with popcorn in hand, watching the previews and feature with surround sound. While I enjoy the occasional arthouse flick - I usually gravitate towards more escapist fare. There is enough drama, sex and violence in real life - I don't want to see it on the big screen. Which brings us to Bollywood films in Kathmandu.
There are several movie theaters here actually - but only two that resemble what you and I might be used to. They are both owned by the same entertainment group, have a website and are generally pretty darn hip. I have only seen ONE western movie in a movie theater during our near two years here (Bourne Ultimatum - kinetic, but fun). The Kumari Theater and Jai Nepal Theater generally show the latest and greatest Bollywood films. These films come out with astounding rapidity. They show for a week or two and then they are gone. If they have subtitles I have been known to drag my husband, my film buff brother when he visited, and friends to Bollywood movies.
Top Five Characteristics of a Bollywood Movie:
1.) It is very long with an intermission.
2.)There is often a wedding scene.
3.) There will be a rain scene - often with people dancing in it. This makes we foreigners laugh.
4.) The Dance Extravaganzas have little to do with the plot, often arrive in the middle of a dramatic moment and involve multiple costume changes.
5.) You will see the same actors over and over again. Bollywood is prolific and these folks seem to work a lot.
6.) Sorry, I had to add one more. They have something they call an "item number" which is basically some sorry excuse for a scantily clad gal to do a solo dance that, again, has very little to do with the plot. That said, these flicks are generally pretty chaste.
I attribute the fact that I can sit through these (and kinda like'em - shhhhh) to my early adolescence when I watched terrible movie musicals like Grease and Footloose a dozen times each - in the movie theater. I am shameless.
Should you dare to rent a few from Netflix, here is a list.
1) Dhoom 2: impossibly beautiful people, good fx, sort of 007 meets Inspector Cleuseau (sp?).
2) Salaam e Ishq - several love stories interwoven - a lot of song and dance.
3) Eklavya (haven't seen this yet but it was the one India nominated to the Academy this year)
4) Tara Zameen Par - An art teacher "reaches" a little boy others have given up on.
5) Jodhaa Akhbar - Period piece. Indians will argue it isn't historically accurate. Fabulous costumes. Same lead duo as Dhoom 2.
6) Jab We Met - Serious fluff - very popular actors.
7) Guru - Village boy makes good, gets accused of corruption, prevails. Saw this without subtitles by accident, so I think that is what it is about:).
On a final note, Mira Nair is an Indian Director whose films are actually not so Bollywoodish, they generally are for western distribution. The Namesake was lovely (and a good adaptation of the book) and Monsoon Wedding is good as well.
Happy viewing - let me know how it goes.