Monday Morning Question Post! Life Goes On!

As you know if you are a regularly reader, the election sort of knocked me off my feet last week.  But I am trying to be better this week, return to a routine and some sense of regular life.  Which means Monday Morning Questions!  (previous posts here and here and here and here and here and here and here)

As always the only rule is that you let me answer first, because otherwise it is just no fun for me!

But as for the questions themselves, anything goes!  You can ask me something personal (“why do you like Shahrukh better than Salman or Aamir?”) or some general question about the films that you can’t find out anywhere else (“why do the movie stars lipsync instead of sing?”) or a fun open-ended discussion question (“why are Indian films never nominated at the Oscars?”)

 

Looking forward to some fun discussions and interesting challenges!

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20 thoughts on “Monday Morning Question Post! Life Goes On!

  1. Here is an aspect of the alleged Khan rivalry that I don’t understand. When we were in India (all too brief trip) and we asked, “Who is your favorite of the Khans?” Inevitably the younger, more educated, urban types said Amir. Why and how did he get the reputation for “intellectual films”? His are not more intellectual than certainly SRK’s. Just cause he seems so serious and wears glasses. I haven’t seen his whole body of work but I have see the famous ones. I mean why didn’t he get grief for Dhoom 3?

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    • Starting around 1998, Aamir made a conscious decision to change the way he worked. He switched from doing 2-4 films a year, to limiting it to one or none. And he started picking scripts carefully, only taking the big unusual interesting films. He also more or less stopped attending Award shows, and limited his media interactions, and cut off all personal appearances (at least, for profit ones, he still shows up for charity events).

      Essentially, Aamir’s behavior said “I am an artist, not a Star, and you should treat me accordingly.” The educated urbanites who might have been ashamed to admit to fandom for a “Star”, now started to find Aamir acceptable, because he wasn’t a “Star” like the others, he was more dignified than that. This process got a big boost with the release of Lagaan, and Aamir’s sudden international presence as a “respectable” producer and actor. Combined with Dil Chahta Hai, that same year, where he played a character that the urban educated elite young folks could relate to in a way they couldn’t to Salman and Shahrukh’s more “filmi” type of roles. And then 3 Idiots just blew the roof off the whole industry, suddenly there was a movie all of Indian, the educated types and the regular folks, could agree was high quality.

      From the perspective of 2016, it can be hard to see the difference between the Khans, because Salman and Shahrukh slowly came to follow Aamir’s lead. Now they also take only a few roles, and mostly only artistically challenging ones, each year. And they all have an international presence. But Aamir is still something a little different, with his refusal to do stage shows or otherwise cheapen his persona with those kinds of “entertainer” sort of appearances, rather than “artist”. Even his twitter and other social media presences is a little more limited!

      And then just a few years back there was the big change with his Satyamev Jayate TV show. Suddenly he was positioning himself as not just a “Serious Actor”, but a serious voice for change in the country, someone who cared about big social issues and had wise opinions on them, someone Prime Minister David Cameron consulted when he visited India. Again, Shahrukh and Salman have followed his lead a little, but they have remained a bit more in touch with the common man, not so much with the international political elites.

      On the other hand, just from the conversations I have had with people, that statement Aamir made last year about Intolerance in India really damaged his popularity, not just among the common man but among the elites. Suddenly he crossed the line from “as good as us”, but “thinks he’s better than us”. He’s been fighting his way back from that, but it will still take some work before he is as universally accepted.

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  2. And I guess the companion question and I am MOST biased here, why does it seem as though SRK gets more grief for EVERYTHING than any of the others? Is it because of those crowds and crowds in front of his house and people just don’t understand the love?

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    • You know the Neha Dhupia quote, right? “Only sex and Shahrukh sell”.

      I think Shahrukh gets the most grief in the English language press. He is the most popular global star, which also means that a Shahrukh headline gets clicks in all the global news sources, more than a Salman or Aamir headline would. So reporters are always looking for an angle to include him, and so are politicians and others who want to borrow some of his fame.

      But on the other hand, Salman is the Khan with the most court cases against him. And Aamir is the Khan who has the highest political profile, and the biggest political punishments when he miss-steps (pulling his security detail, canceling his India brand ambassadorship). They are all getting grief, just in different ways.

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  3. “Dil Chahta Hai” is a great example. I saw that before I really understood the whole Khan thing. It is in no way deeper or more intellectual than a KANK or a My Name is Khan, even Swades. And Laagan, also while great is not dramatically better… I actually think Amir’s most interesting is Fanaa which is scary, edgy and a great Kajol performance but it isn’t discussed much. I think you are right it is as SRK’s calls them: the peripherals, not hosting, not doing shows or commercials etc. By not saying,”I just want to make people smile,” Amir gets to be the intellectual. And that is why I as you can tell love SRK, though in most other aspects of my life I lean to the “intellectual.”

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    • Really, the “first” part of Dil Chahta Hai is the most important. I read a story years ago about an architecture class that was touring Chicago, and they went to see Mies Van Der Rohe’s buildings, and someone said about it “What’s so special? All buildings look like this.” But, the point was that Mies was the first! They didn’t used to all look like that, they are all just imitating him.

      When Dil Chahta Hai came out, it was revolutionary. But now we have an upperclass urban set rom-com with “natural” sounding Hinglish dialogue and a modern attitude towards romantic and familial relationships coming out every other week. I was barely early enough to catch that first reaction to Dil Chahta Hai, but for the first 2-3 years after it came out, it was the only film like that. And Aamir was held up as the only Khan capable of really speaking the language of the young urban educated generation, of being more like “us” than Shahrukh or Salman with their over-acting and elaborate speeches in formal Hindi.

      I am the same as you with Shahrukh, I like him because it feels more like he loves us back, you know? He’s super smart, which I find very attractive, but he doesn’t try to be elitist about it, he is happy to make films for the regular folks and happy to make a fool of himself if it will make us smile.

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  4. And to be fair, half of what I love about him isn’t in his movies. It is in his speeches, interviews etc. A couple of weeks after I discovered Hindi film and was just discovering SRK, he spoke at Yale. Watching that speech made me a fan forever. Then I watched/read every film, every interview I could find.

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  5. One of the many reasons I love your blog is that fact that you have forced me to branch out again into other areas of Hindi cinema and not stay in my SRK bubble, delightful as that is. I’m learning a lot of filmi background which is great.

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    • Fun question!

      Salman: Hum Aapke Hain Koun. I saw DDLJ, fell in love with Indian films, and promptly asked all my desi friends what to watch next, and HAHK was right at the top of the list.

      My impression of Salman was all mixed in with my impression of the film. It took a long time for me to get into it at all, but I slogged through because I had been told it was so good. And right after “Joote Lalo”, when Salman exchanges glances with Madhuri while her sister is leaving, swoon! Not so much about Salman, but about the whole romance. That core of decency and caring under all their teasing. And then Pehla Nashe just about killed me! His combination of shyness, and gently taking control, uff!

      I watched Maine Pyar Kiya next, also uff. And then I cranked through a ton of films trying to catch that romantic high again, and couldn’t. Of course now I know I should have been looking at his super early stuff like Love and Baaghi and Saajan. But at the time, I was just grabbing whatever DVDs were available for rent, and they weren’t the greatest. I was really impressed with him in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, especially that ending speech. And, as I have written about, I love love love Jaan-E-Mann and his performance in that kind of blew me away. Khamoshi, Baghban, there are a few others were his serious acting worked well for me. But generally I discovered that I liked Salman better in comedies, Yeh Hai Jalwa and Judwaa and Biwi No 1 and Chal Mere Bhai and so on and so on, than in romances. And then Dabangg came out, and now I LOVE him in action films! And Bajrangi Bhaijaan just blew my mind. That’s the nice thing with these Khan’s, they all go through so many phases, it feels like you are constantly re-discovering them.

      Aamir: Lagaan. I was one of the many many many white people who saw Lagaan at a film festival in America the year it came out. I liked him, his charisma obviously made the movie, but I was more into the character than the actor. And then (and this was very unfortunate) the next film I saw was Rangeela. It’s a brilliant movie, obviously, but it is a very difficult film. Aamir’s character doesn’t really fit into any easy category and isn’t even easy to like. And without having any context, the whole backstage movie setting made no sense.

      Thank goodness I got a second chance with Aamir. A few years later having cranked through a bunch of Aamir and Salman movies recommended by my friends (avoiding QSQT because I knew it was sad!), I finally saw Ghulam and Dil Chahta Hai within days of each other. Which got me 100% on the Aamir train. The characters were more flawed and human than his perfect Lagaan hero, but without the difficulty of the Rangeela hero. Plus, both those movies are just wonderful! And “Aati Kya Khandala” is a fabulous song.

      Over the next few years, with my “watching whatever is available at the movie store” system, I saw plenty of lessor Aamir films, Dil and Tum Mere Ho and Ishq and Mann. But I also managed to catch some of his brilliant performances, Sarfarosh and Rang De Basanti and Ghajini. I still have a bit of a hard time connecting with him because of the degree to which he disappears into his characters. His Bhuvan in Lagaan has so little in common with his police officer in Talaash, I can’t really see the “Aamir” inside of them.

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    • My favorites, right? Not his best movies? Because those are very different questions!

      1. Ghulam: This is one of the earliest movies I saw, and the first time Aamir really clicked into place for me. It’s an extremely well-constructed film, the plot unfolds naturally and there are no extraneous scenes. Also, really great songs! And the whole feel of it is a little grittier, a little more street level than Indian films usually get.

      2. Rang De Basanti: What can I say? It’s Rang De Basanti! For one thing, it’s the first time I got excited about a soundtrack before I saw a film. For another, it made me fall in love with Siddharth and Kunal Kapoor and Madhavan. And yet Aamir was still the most exciting presence on the screen!

      3. Ishq: This is a stupid stupid movie. Stupid stupid. And yet, I love it! It’s so colorful! And happy! And melodramatic!

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      • >My favorites, right? Not his best movies?

        Right! Purely your own preference.

        1. Ghulam!
        One of very few films of those times I really like. And the soundtrack is so good!
        Besides, it has my all time favourite (but rare) Bollywood jodi – Aamir and Rani.

        2. Rang De Basanti is in my top 3 too! Such a powerful movie, great characters and story.
        The soundtrack is amazing.

        >For another, it made me fall in love with Siddharth and Kunal Kapoor and Madhavan.

        Same with me! )))

        3. I find Ishq quite stupid too (especially the first part) but surprisingly enjoyable.
        Some of its scenes is sooooo good. And I really like the title song!

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        • Glad to know I’m not the only person with a soft spot for Ishq and Ghulam! From what I can tell, Ghulam was quite respected when it was originally released, but as time has passed, it seems like it is more remembered for “Aati Kya Khandala” than all the other great things in that movie. Ishq, of course, isn’t remembered at all. Well, except as a the last time Aamir and Juhi worked together before they had that falling out which lasted until a couple years ago.

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