I have slowly been getting in more Bollywood movies. I’ve seen 3-4 more over the last 6 weeks. I’m finding them incredibly entertaining and extremely inspirational, and not just because Shah Rukh Khan and Arjun Rampal are hot men. The movies I’ve seen so far work the emotions like you wouldn’t believe. There’s practically no special effects so they have to actually have a plot. If they’re running out of plot, well, let’s sing and dance! It’s incredible fodder for a writer. The stories are wonderful, even when they’re completely sappy or strain credulity.
I feel I’m still culturally clueless and I find myself wondering about what names signify in these movies — if they do. For example, do Indian surnames indicate ethnicity/caste/class/religion? If so, to what extent does it matter? And what clues and subtext am I missing because I don’t understand the significance of names?
Anyway, I am absolutely loving my exploration of Bollywood films and if you’re a writer looking for different ways to think about story, there’s a goldmine here. Plus some really fun movies.
My Name is Khan
This movie stars Shah Rukh Kahn and is the one that was filmed about 20 miles from my town. The movie is LONG. It’s interesting throughout but the last 45 minutes or more derail and take a stunningly good movie down several notches. But most of this movie is so good I still think everyone should watch it. I tell you I cried like a baby at least twice. Oh my goodness.
Most of the movie takes place in the US and primarily Northern California, though there is a Road Trip later on. Shah Rukh Khan plays a fairly highly-functioning autistic man who falls in love and marries an Indian woman. There’s a tragedy that will break your heart, after which his wife says something unfortunate that Khan takes very literally. This sets him off on his Road Trip. A couple more things happen that will make you cry because all you want is for Khan and his wife to find each other again and wow. Maybe that won’t happen.
Then the movie derails with Khan ending up in some sort of fantasy rural South town being flooded by a hurricane and he saves everyone and the social and racial metaphors are flying so thick all you can do is wish the popcorn had lasted longer while you duck being bludgeoned by THE MESSAGE.
But then everything turns out OK and I cried again.
Total win of a movie. Plus, SRK is hot. There, I said it. It’s true.
Rab Ne Bana di Jodi
This is another Shah Rukh Khan movie. I LOVED this movie. LOVED it even when I totally couldn’t believe the premise. I also secretly wished there had been a slightly different twist but it doesn’t matter. It’s so cute and funny and the singing and dancing is fun fun fun!!
SRK plays a complete nerd who works for Pubjabi Power and he is secretly in love with this woman who is utterly out of his league. Fate conspires to bring them together in a marriage of convenience. He has to pretend he’s not in love and she’s had her heart so thoroughly broken it takes her a while to think about what her life is like now.
She loves to dance and he pays for her to join this dance class/competition where at the end couples will compete for best song and dance. THEN he secretly joins the class as Raj, super hot mechananic and fate intervenes again and they are paired as a dancing couple. As Raj, SRK breaks out of his nerdiness and romances his wife WHO DOES NOT RECOGNIZE her own husband because he has shaved off his mustache. (He keeps a fake one for when he’s his “real” self.)
Here’s the thing: It is actually not completely unbelievable (at first) that she does not recognize him. The physical transformation is astonishing and so is the personality change. The couple is, after all, more or less strangers to each other. At first, this worked for me. But as they get to know each other (as Raj and husband) that failure became less and less believable for me. She really ought to have figured it out.
There’s lots of emotion with the singing and dancing because SRK is romancing his wife as two different people and well, it’s really worth watching. The premise is silly and fun but the sub-text is quite serious and a bit angsty.
Total win of a movie.
Dil Ka Risthta
This movie stars Arjun Rampal and, well, he’s the only reason to watch it. There’s unrequited love, amnesia, a secret baby that is a secret from the mother (I am NOT kidding) and a fake marriage. The theme of fate runs through many Indian movies and that’s the solution to this one.
Basically, the plot is this. Jai (Arjun Rampal) is a wealthy business tycoon who falls deeply in love with the stunningly beautiful Tai (Aishwayra Rai). Seriously, this woman is so beautiful it hurts to look at her. Problem: Tai is madly in love with someone else and none of Jai’s huge “I am Rich as Hell Isn’t This Romantic” stunts do him any good. In fact, he’s a bit stalkerish and she tells him to take a hike and marries the man she loves. They have a wonderful marriage– they’re poor but so happy you could gag — and then a baby! Poor Jai. He can’t stand to see the love of his life so happy, it’s driving him to drink.
Then, one night he’s out drinking with his girl buddy and he drinks and drives and no one is wearing a seat belt. Jai crashes the car, girl buddy goes through the windshield and dies AND the car hits another car and in that car are . . . . Yes. Tai and her beloved husband who dies. I think Jai might get a sexy scar or something.
So, in the hospital, it turns out that Tai has total amnesia and the doctors warn everyone that if anyone tells her about her true past, she will have a brain hemorrhage and die. The solution is for Jai to pretend to be the father of her baby with his dead wife having been Tai’s sister or maybe her best friend, I can’t remember and they all live together in Jai’s fabulous South African mansion with Tai’s mother who has perfected the art of evil glances at Jai, who, after all, is responsible for the destruction of Tai’s happy life.
Jai himself is horrendously guilty. You never saw such pain in your life. There’s singing and dancing and they’re falling in love only he can’t let her know how he feels because, yeah, he killed her husband in the car crash, is pretending he’s the father of her baby, which she doesn’t even know is actually her son, and basically everyone is lying to Tai but especially him.
Then more stuff happens and she remembers her past (no hemmorrhage!) and she forgives Jai because obviously fate intended for them to be together.
The Stare of Evil mom was amazing. Rampal was gorgeous. The movie was terrible. But I might watch it again.
This was another Rampal movie and what stands out in my mind is Arjun Rampal in the shower. I think there was more, but I’m blanking. He was in the shower. OHmygod.
OK, I’m not really blanking out. This was a movie I thought I had all figured out and it turns out I totally did not. Three times. Holy CRAP! This movie had more twists than any Hollywood Noir of the 1950′s, which, clearly, I think was the inspiration. I can’t even begin to describe the twists and turns except to say that there’s amnesia (Yes! More Amnesia!!) and nobody is who you think even when you’re convinced you know.
Total win for the shower scene.