However, there's a lot of other layers of significance to looking in filmi stories. Not just "a look" in the singular (which is obviously crucial as well), but the act of looking itself. For instance, one could argue that a look of desire is a passive kind of looking. Not so much an act, as a state of being. It's important, but it doesn't necessarily immediately achieve an end, other than to potentially give the object of one's desire fair warning!
|Dil Se (1998)|
Here I'll count down my top five "Acts of Looking" upon which the wheels of the plot turn.
5. Looking Everywhere But at the Person Trying to Talk to You
When one person won't look at another in a Hindi film, it's surely a sign of deep disappointment, guilt, or maidenly shyness. And you can also be sure that it signifies a soon-to-be ESCALATION of EVENTS.
The disappointed person will probably seek out full-fledged punishment of the other person for misdeeds.
And the guilty may madly grasp for some sort of redemption . . .
. . . or a fatalistically tumble towards self-destruction, Devdas-style.
And in the case of maiden shyness, well, it usually works pretty darn well (and fast) for Rakhee in all her films. (Girl knows what to do with a wedding-veil, I'm just saying.)
4. Looking as Unspoken Conversation
|Muqaddar ka Sikandar (1978)|
This is THE most important mark of soulmates--be they brothers, friends, or lovers--that they know each other's thoughts with a look. Nothing really needs to be voiced or even sung. They just know.
In fact, this paragraph itself is already too long. Moving on.
3. Looking As Silent Confrontation
This is one of the most bone-chilling of all looks--the look of silent accusation by the close friend, lover, or family member.
This usually happens when a loved one has committed an act of betrayal, or has at least proved "worthy" of suspicion. When this look happens, beware. Warranted or not, justified accusation or no--violence and/or death and/or imprisonment probably will soon follow.
2. Looking But Not Touching Or Taking
This is a crucial moment in the filmi-romance of course. A gentleman is (usually) distinguished from the goonda by his restraint, after all.
|Kaala Patthar (1979)|
However, this type of looking reaches even greater heights of significance in the Dacoit Drama.
When an outlaw chooses to suppress his natural urge to steal and take whatever and whoever he wants, you know he's been transformed somehow. When he wants the woman, yet walks away instead of throwing her over the back of his horse, you suddenly know he has changed his ways. Which probably also spells his demise (dacoits make too many enemies to give up the saddle and rifle safely), but that's OK. Better to reform and die than transgress and live, at least, so the Bollywood mythos tells me.
1. Looking at Someone and Finally Seeing Who They Really Are
|Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978)|
Perhaps the most essential part of filmi-grammer is the Big Reveal. Whether it's the discovery of a long lost sibling/parent, or the realization that someone long hated never deserved one's enmity, or the sudden grasp of true worth in a person one mistreated . . .this act of looking--the look of realization--is my ultimate favorite. It means that no matter what else happens in the last five minutes, you can go to bed with some little satisfaction, some resolve to an old injustice or injury or misunderstanding.
What "Looks" do you love? What significant acts of looking did I leave out?