Sunday, June 25, 2006
hmmm... that's tricky. If you want a dramatic/semi-tragic love story with fantastic visuals & music, check out Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (trans. "I Have Given You My Heart"). If you want something more fun yet still really well made, check out Bunty Aur Babli ("Bunty and Babli") - it's a con-artist comedy.
Now that I consider it, get Bunty - it's just such a funny and sweet movie... less chicky-flicky. (Do NOT get Bride & Prejudice, which was actually shown in the US but sucks terribly - Netflix may recommend it.) If you want to get acclimatized first, do check out Monsoon Wedding, which is an Indian film but not Bollywood, in that it's not a musical. I am still very moved by it; I find some neat analogies to the Bride of Christ and the book of Hosea (although I'm sure it wasn't intended by the filmmaker!) It's much more realistic in its portrayal of Indian life than a Bollywood film, and yet you start to get a sense of how the culture works, and Bollywood seems a logical progression afterwards. This is the first Indian movie I ever saw, and the critics really loved it, with good reason.
I don't expect everyone to enjoy Bollywood, but I went into it hook, line & sinker after a decade of passionate devotion to anime, and there are parallels - it's so reflective of its culture, same as anime is to Japan. It wouldn't look the same anywhere else. And the interesting thing is that in 98% of the movies, there's no sex or kissing, which makes it safe for entire families. B & B is an exception to this rule, but even it is quite tame in comparison to US films. The culture disapproves of PDAs and promiscuity (although it does happen in the big cities), and when one Bollywood starlet was *gasp* reported to have been seen kissing her boyfriend in public! she filed a libel suit and released a statement that she would never do anything so immoral.
So, in order of recommended viewing (not in quality, necessarily):
1) Monsoon Wedding
2) Bunty Aur Babli
3) Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
4) Kabhi Khushi, Kabhie Gham
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
iTunes is finally carrying Bollywood music! Finally, I can get decent copies of some of my favorite tunes! I would say the bulk of actual music on my iPod (apart from the entire Harry Potter canon, Sarah Vowell, and podcasts on Doctor Who) is from Bollywood, and I listen to them more than anything else. And a lot of them are from somewhat questionable sources; my only excuse is the difficulty of obtaining the CDs, and that fact that usually I want only 1 or 2 of the songs from any film. A saving grace of Bollywood music is that the CDs are wicked cheap.
But it's weird; some unbelieveably obscure music is available there from movies that apparently no-one liked but me, while some of the top movie soundtracks are nowhere to be seen. I mean, for heaven's sake, Krrish starring the delectable Hrithik Roshan and bound to be the #1 film this year in India, has only a Telegu version of the soundtrack available, when the movie was made in Hindi! I mean, honestly, Telegu? It's like only listing the soundtrack for a Spanish-dubbed version of the next Spiderman film!
When I can't get the soundtrack for the blockbuster Fanaa (made by the top studio in Mumbai) on iTunes, but I can get songs from the delightfully cheesy but ultimately bombed Doli Saja ke Rakhna, then someone at iTunes is really bad at their job. Patience, my little ladoo, patience... give them time to learn and grow...
And to that end, and for the benefit and delight of anyone who comes here, I offer this tidbit of the most delightfully catchy song I've heard in a while - "Aaja Soniye" from an otherwise weak film, Mujhse Shaadi Karoge (Will You Marry Me?). You can't listen to it without smiling. And bouncing.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Pardon the colloquial "nuhfing;" been re-watching loads of Doctor Who on my Tivo and on YouTube (which is a MAHVELOUS site, btw) and his companion Rose has the most adorable accent. "th" comes out as "f" or "v", and it's quite infectious. Despite my partial knack for accents, I can't pick hers up entirely; I spent too much time as an "Oliver!" urchin-wannabe in junior high choir, and traces of cockney keep interfering. I don't even know how to classify her accent.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
I also wonder who were the Geeks 200 years ago - we're talking 1806, and despite my fascination with historical popular culture, I have no idea. I do know that "The Da Vinci Code" of the late 18th century was a French romance novel called Paul and Virginia which was all about Rousseauean ideals of letting the wonders of nature teach us how to truly live, and the inequities of an outdated class structure... plus had 2 young hotties on a South Sea island with remarkably lax mothers who let them wander about a la Blue Lagoon.
It was wildly popular in its day, and I actually dug up a copy and read it many years ago - I say Dug, because I had to get it through InterLibrary Loan from another state, and there are practically no copies left - it's long since out-of-print, and for good reason... it's really, really bad, except for a few vaguely naughty bits. (Naughty, in the context of late 18 century, so Not Very.) Long, loooooooooooong passages about the flora and fauna of the island that do nothing to progress the story.
Apparently this was one of those books that shook up the women of the day - readers of Madame Bovary may recollect a reference to Emma having read it when young, and apparently it was part of the formation of her flawed character.
It may seem that I have Strayed from my initial question, but I promise, it ties in. A Geek is, in one part of the Wikipedia definition, "A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest." Geeks are not necessarily Nerds, whom I associate more with social ineptitude. A Geek is very passionate about something, and the most obvious ones are passionate about Stories.
So, if today's Geeks are fond of Star Wars/Trek, LOTR and Joss Whedon, then what were they fond of 100, 200 years past? It would have to be something that wasn't within the cultural norms of the day, but eventually became commonplace. "Paul and Virginia," with its rebellion against class structure and regimented society, might well have been one of the Points of Fixation for Geeks of the Day. I know that Ann Radcliffe's gothic novels were probably Geeked over, but primarily by women. But what would have regained the Geek fascination of men?
Obviously, I need to do a bit of research, Geek that I am.
Friday the 9th: Ooh, Paul and Virginia is available on Project Gutenberg!
Friday, June 02, 2006
Finished a website I'm inordinately proud of, despite the relative simplicity of it - I know HTML, and not much else. My friend Renu has just moved to Denver and is going to start teaching Bollywood Dance there, so we've been frenziedly whipping a website into shape to help drum up students (hopefully!) It's got lots of info on it, since part of the job she has to do is educate people as to WHAT Bollywood Dance actually IS. Since I love Bollywood and it's my second biggest hobby, it's been a joy to work on the site. Not of much use to my Faithful Readers unless they live in Colorado, but the Bolly-What? and Video pages are fun AND educational.