Wednesday, November 27, 2013

4 Bollywood Things I'm Thankful For

It's about to be Hanukkah and Thanksgiving (here in the U.S.) and, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a LIST of things one is grateful for. Here's the Bollywood stuff that happened to come to mind.



4. The Curio Cabinet. . .


Sometimes YouTube is my favorite virtual place in the world . . . especially when I come across something like this: a Laxmi Chhaya & Madhumati fight *ahem* dance from Suhaag Raat (1968).

There are so many other puzzlers, like . . . 

"Woh Jab Yaad Aaye" from Parasmani (1963).



And also from Parasmani, "Hansta Hua Noorani Chehra." 


THAT song from Apna Desh (1972). "Duniya Mein Logon Ko."


I'm ever so thankful that in Bollywood, ridiculous can (and often does) mean awesome. 

3. Item Bombs


I actually have quite a bit of trouble sitting through films from start to finish. Anything can set off my ADD. A great bit in a film can have me Googling the stars or the composer . . . and finding myself deep into Wikipedia's explanation of classical raga structure fifteen minutes later. A bad film will make me want to start a different film. A story that's really worrying me--tugging my heartstrings--even that can make me go off the rails. (Come on, I can't help that I care so much about fictional characters!) Long story short (I'm sure I've already lost those of you who are ADD as well) "Item songs" were made for me, I think.

Bombshell: Cukoo. Song: "Ek Do Teen." Awaara (1950)


Bombshell: Aruna Irani. Song "Koi Mar Jaye." Deewar (1975). 


Bombshell: Padma Khanna. "Tauba Tauba Meri Tauba" Reshma aur Shera (1971). 


Just when I can't handle any more of something (the sad childhood prologue, the hero's losses, the heroine's sacrifices, the badly choreographed fight scenes, the wooden dialogue or EVEN the amazingly poignant dialogue), ENTER the Item Bombshell. Pretty soon, my heart is lifted, my brain is distracted in a good way, and I can move forward again. But even if you don't have my problem, the best item songs do move you forward, because they teach you something about the characters or the emotional context you didn't realize before.

2. Dosti in its variant (Amitabh-oriented) forms. . .



Oh the Bromance!!!


"Aye Yaar Sun Yaari Teri" Suhaag (1979). 




"Saa Re Gaa Maa Geet" Chupke Chupke (1975).


This year I'm thankful for the holy trinity (The Trinitabh?): Shashitabh, Vinotabh, and Dharmetabh. 


1. Catharsis


Actress Ann Marie Duff once said, "There's a catharsis in telling a miserable old tale; you get rid of demons."  Telling the tale, watching the tale, it's a similar process. Through story, we can be entertained. But we can also find peace, old-fashioned grit, new understanding, and hope. If we can feel with the characters, then we might also hurt, fall, and rise up tall with the characters.

When I need that kind of simultaneous "knock-down" and "pick-me-up," I go here. They may not all be objectively THE best, but I'm thankful that I found them, nonetheless.




Sharmila and Rajesh can't seem to catch a break (as usual) but this time, their characters are remarkably aware and forgiving, even when they both betray each other's trust. For once, in an industry run on stories about people misunderstanding each other till the bitter end, we see two people who see the worst in one another and don't walk away or levy a giant slap or call the marriage off.
"Na Tumse Huii, Na Humse Huii" Raja Rani (1973).




Zeenat's good and tired of Shashi's filmi madness, and pronounces a curse upon him. I mean, when you do you see a filmi wife actually tell her husband off? (And isn't there someone you kind of wish you could speak your mind to in a similar way?) Pretty much the best part of the entire film.
 Satyam Shivam Sundaram Scene (1978). 


Shashi can be betrayed, too. This time Sharmila is the culprit (at least as far as Shashi knows), and he's been quietly putting up with 7 years of shame and hardship all by his lonesome. I never thought roller skates would be a good medium for a soulful lament about betrayal, but it just works for me. Especially with "imaginary Sharmila" hanging around looking FAR TOO happy with herself. In other news, this song (not the scene) seems to be quite popular with very random people who've never seen the film. People are always commenting on it when I have it playing. So much so, that it either answers to "Jaanti ho?" Or "Samaya," during car trip song requests.
"Na Koii Dil Mein Samaya" Aa Gale Lag Ja (1973). 


I love it when characters are forced to celebrate something that they don't want to celebrate. (Maybe I'm just not a party person, and I appreciate it when other people don't see the point, either.) 
It's even better if they can place the blame on the right person with a wink and smile. Dharmendra starts off proud, and ends up all guilty (he gives great guilt-face). Plus Prem Chopra trotting about looking suitably smug (with 2/3 of the information necessary to understand the irony), and Helen (who is omniscient of course) dancing to the beat of lies and intrigue. It's positively perfect. So much so, that if the film had ended here, I might have been OK with it. 

And of course, this . . .

Dying for love never looked so good. This song is so powerful on a spiritual and emotional level, it's almost a religion in itself. It certainly gets rid of my demons. 
"Ae Mohabbat Zindabad" Mughal-e-Azam (1960). 


What has Bollywood given to you this year? Well, whatever you are celebrating, mubarak ho! 

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