Saturday, May 17, 2008

Booray for Bollywood

Amitabh Bachchan (the Big B), Abishek Bachchan and Ashwayra Rai ("Abiash" ... like "Brangelina" - all related), Kareena Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor (not related), Shah Ruh Khan (King Khan), Salman Khan, Aamir Khan (none are related), John Abraham (fan yourself) ... I could go on. Who are these people??? I had no idea before we moved here. This list friends, is Bollywood royalty. You can sleep better now that you have this important piece of cultural information.

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.

Cheers, Laurel

44 comments:

Jennifer said...

Love the shots you got at the Borderlands. The silky water was worth all your effort. : )

When you are here this summer, we must grab an escapist matinee! : )

Melissa Lester said...

It must be really interesting to experience movie magic in another country. Mmmm, popcorn! Do they follow our celebrity culture or just have their own? It seems at least some of our movie stars are loved the world over.

trashalou said...

*sigh* The light in Monsoon Nights.

wehave9 said...

Congratulations on your Sits day. I couldn't get to your first submission for som reason. But it must be interesting living abroad!

Momof3 said...

Coming in from Sits but can't read the other posts :(

You must have a lot of adventures living there!

justjuli said...

Love the poster shot. I actually enjoy a cheesy Bollywood movie every once in a while. And Aishwarya Rai has to be one of the most beautiful women in the world!

She's been in a few "western" movies too: Bride & Prejudice (bollywood does Pride & Prejudice); The Mistress of Spices (With Dylan McDermott - yum!)

Happy SITS day!

Vicki said...

Isn't it interesting what different cultures think are important for a movie. I've tried to enjoy French cinema, but it's usually too random and rambling. Or maybe it's more philosophical than I'm ready for...
I just might rent one of these Bollywood movies to give it a shot :)

Rhea said...

Well, I'm going to have to check some of these out, just for the Bollywood experience. I love women in Sari's though. I think they're gorgeous, even on not so attractive women. They just seem so flattering!

Caroline said...

It is really interesting to hear about other cultures and the things they do. That's great that all the violence, sex, and hoopla isn't found in a lot of those movies. Happy Viewing and Happy SITSday!

Creative Junkie said...

i'm finding all this information about where you live fascinating!

Kathi said...

Again, thanks for sharing. It is so interesting to learn about other countries.

Nik said...

I find that so interesting! Thanks for sharing

thotlady said...

Interesting to see what other countries view as movies and whether they have their own "stars".

Thanks for the information.

Casey's trio said...

how interesting...thanks for the cultural lesson. I loved Grease:)

Katy Lin :) said...

this is very interesting! my hubby and i are addicted to movies over here, we'll have to try some of these soon!

Party of 5 said...

Reminds me of when we lived in Turkey. I want to go back now. LOL

Rela Pantaleon-Manigsaca said...

I actually have heard of some of them, specially Ashwayra Rai because of being a L'oreal spokeswoman.

EmBee said...

I find it difficult to sit through some of the Indian dance videos that I've seen posted on You-Tube. But I did however really enjoy 'Bride & Prejudice' (not to be confused with 'Pride & Prejudice')... It's a 'Bollywood' film produced by the same woman who did 'Bend it like Beckham' (which I really LOVED!)

I thought 'Bride & Prejudice' was a fun movie that pretty much falls into the formula you speak of. In fact, I think I remember a dance sequence in the rain? If you haven't seen it, and if you like Jane Austen, you might want to check it out, if you can find it on video. It was however released with westerners in mind so it might not be available over there.

Ronnica said...

My friend spent 6 months in India and is dying to share a Bollywood movie with me. Can't wait!

Mamasphere said...

Can I come visit you just so I can see a Bollywood movie in the theater? No? Okay, then I'm off to add your list to my Netflix queue!

Becky :) said...

What an experience you must be getting living there. I think it's great that your children are exposed to that too.

Happy SITS Day!!!!!!

Threeundertwo said...

I enjoyed Monsoon Wedding, and Bride and Prejudice is one of our absolute favorites around here - although not true Bollywood, it has its moments.

Michelle said...

Wow, that is an AWFUL lot of movies to make. Truly they're in the theaters for a week or two and gone? Very impressive.

I think Bollywood is lots of fun. And I have to ask... you mention that you bring your husband/brother when they have subtitles. Does this mean you don't need/use the subtitles?

nikkicrumpet said...

wow...amazing cultural differences...must be an experience to be living that life. The only time I've ever heard of Bollywood was on "so you think you can dance" they did that style of dance. You're sure experiencing it in a totally different way lol

Be-Frazzled Mom said...

Your blog is fascinating. I am adding you to my blogroll so that I can keep up!

cutler's said...

It has been so fun reading the many cultural adventures of you and your family. What a unique opportunity.

AndBabyWillMake4 said...

Devdas isn't on the list! I loved that movie so much!!


(Came over from SITS)

EmmaP said...

the movies sound like a lot of fun. i think it is hilarious that the dancing/music parts dont have much to do with the plots..again, too funny!

cricketphx said...

Yikes, my eyes hurt trying to read all those names! Good story!

Adrian said...

Hello from the SITS world. Hope you are enjoying your day. I'm always fascinated by what they do in other countries. It's funny how things are close, but just not "quite" there.

mrsmouthy said...

You definitely nailed it! Rain scene and all. :)

Debbie Y. said...

I live in the U.S. and I haven't been to a movie theater since LOTR-Fellowship came out. I moved to the boonies (rural South Alabama) and just don't get a chance to see any movies except on my big screen T.V.), so even if you are in another country you're not as deprived as you think. I would love some movie popcorn.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Huh. I had heard of Bollywood, of course, but never thought there would be films I could actually get here from Netflix or Blockbuster. Will check it out. Thanks for the quick lesson!

Melanie said...

Thanks so much for this info. I can't wait to see one of the "movies"

WheresMyAngels said...

Oh I had heard of this and how big it is! But kinda glad I don't have it as my only entertainment source.

Mekhismom said...

Thanks for the movie recommendations!

Aynde said...

YAY Bollywood!!!

Love it love it love it.

There's nothing like escaping into a world of comedy,drama,action, music and song for 3 hours. (bollywood films are very hard to comy by in Kentucky so that god for the internet!)

My recommendations?

Kaho Naa Pyar Hai (Masala movie goodness)
Veer Zaara (dramatic!)
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Romance!)
Devdas (GORGEOUS FILM tragic story)

mrsbear said...

I love foreign films and I've never seen a Bollywood movie. I'll have to give some of those a try.

Kat said...

I have never seen a true Bollywood movie...but I feel like I know all about them. I loved Monsoon Wedding...and Bride and Prejudice with Ashwayra Rai was so much fun. But I just don't know that netflixing one of the ones on your list would be the same...

And I just watched "The Namesake" this past weekend. I LOVED the book...but the movie, not so much.

Stacie said...

What an experience this must be! What a Bollywood experience!

Dee said...

I have heard of some of those actors.... someone I know was even an extra in a bollywood movie...

Heather B. said...

that is quite interesting to read about!

Sunshine said...

I'm so fascinated. I really, REALLY need to get out more.

And you know I'm so going to Netflix right now. ;D

verygoodyear said...

I lived in a city here in Canada, until last week, that was FULL of Indian people & the Bollywood culture. Every night, someone in our neighbourhood was cooking with curry, and anywhere you went, you'd see a woman wearing a sari. So naturally, their culture -- and Bollywood! -- crept into our local television broadcasts, and I used to spend Saturday mornings watching Bollywood videos :]