You don’t have to ask questions about Raees, or related to Raees, or anything. Just wanted something so you could tell this was the most recent Monday post! I bet next week it ends up being something super clever like “first week of February post.” (you can find all the Monday Morning Question posts here)
As always, you can ask me anything about my personal history with the films (“what was the first Shahrukh film you saw in theaters?”), or something super specific you are wondering about (“what was Shahrukh’s first movie?”), or a general sort of discussion question (“what is Shahrukh’s best movie?”).
The only rule is, you have to let me answer first, otherwise it’s no fun for me!
What movie have you shown people to introduce them to Hindi films? I have a few friends–all of whom think I’m at least slightly crazy–who say they’d come over to watch a Hindi movie with me. As you know, I’m a big Shah Rukh fan so my instinct is to show them one of his. What would you recommend?
LikeLiked by 1 person
K3G is a good one because it has so many of the major stars in it. I personally showed some friends Bang Bang as their very first. Yes, it can be silly but it was a fun first film.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hey, you broke the one Monday Morning rule 🙂
But it doesn’t matter, because both of those are films I would suggest as well. I actually have a bunch of suggestions, and I use a kind of complicated flowchart approach to figure out which is best depending on the audience:
1. What kind of situation is this going to be? Party with popcorn and 3 or more “newbies” invited, or 2 really really intense film buff types, or 1 really open-minded person who sincerely wants to learn about the films?
1a. Party with popcorn, then Moviemavengal has it right, K3G or Bang Bang is perfect. Or Lagaan or Dangal or Sultan or Prem Ratan Dhan Payo or Jodha-Akbar. You want to stay away from something with an Indian specific kind of plot (PK, 3 Idiots, Bajrangi Bhaijaan) because you won’t be able to give enough of an explanation for the background. And you want to stay away from something that is a little more over the top (Jab Tak Hain Jaan, Dabangg, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) because they will be talking over parts and not focusing and it will make the film seem sillier than it is if you want it straight through.
1b. A few film buff types who are actually serious about wanting to learn more about the industry, then maybe still K3G. But only because you can give lots of background info like “this is a major star”, “this is a fantasy song”, “Notice how the helicopter wings fade into the woman’s arms dancing”. Alternatively, a movie that is legitimately brilliantly made. So, Dil Se or Guru or Talaash or English/Vinglish or Queen.
1c. A really open-minded person who legitimately wants to learn about the films. In this case, DDLJ. Or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Or 3 Idiots or Bajrangi Bhaijaan. They are slow to start and take a while to get used to, and you need to give the viewer some minimal background so they can follow what’s happening. But if someone pays attention to them and gives them a chance, guarenteed one-shot fall in love with the films.
2. Is this someone who has pre-conceived notions about the films?
2a. If yes, then go for something like Airlift or Dear Zindagi or English/Vinglish or Queen or Talaash. Something which doesn’t have the big song numbers and silly romance they are expecting.
2b. If no, then see above.
3. Is this someone who is ready to fangirl out? Pumped about the cute guys and the female gaze aspect?
3a. If yes, then Om Shanti Om all the way. Big, silly, and has Dard-E-Disco in the middle. Or else Kaho Na Pyar Hai.
3b. If no, then back to the options under 1.
Some big things to avoid, I have discovered through painful experience: Chennai Express, Dil Chahta Hai, Bunty Aur Babli, Main Hoon Na, Don, Anything Classic with Amitabh, DDLJ and Kuch Kuch (except in the specific situation mentioned above), Anything by Mani Ratnam (except in the situation mentioned above), My Name is Khan, Rang De Basanti, Hum Aapke Hain Koun, Maine Pyar Kiya, Lakshya, Hum-Tum, Anything Bhansali, Any Film That You Yourself Love So Much You Will Be Hurt if It is Insulted.
Generally, newbies don’t get the humor, they don’t get the tragedies, and they can’t fully appreciate the real classics. So if you only have one shot with them, avoid yaar!
Oh, and most of all, be ready to change choices depending on the group! If you invited one serious person, and she ends up bringing her husband/boyfriend who just wants to laugh at the funny costumes, dump Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and switch to K3G. Or if you invited 5 people and only one shows up, dump K3G and switch to Dil Se.
And get a sense of the general mood as well. I have switched suddenly from a planned showing of Guru to English/Vinglish when I found out that someone had a fight with their boyfriend that day, for instance.
Hmm, what else? Oh, make ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY SURE that everyone knows the films do last 3 hours plus, and they CANNOT live in the middle. That is the worst, when we get 2/3rds into Kuch Kuch, and someone stands up and goes “okay, I think I have an idea of what the films are like, and I have to get up early tomorrow, so I am taking off now.” If you find yourself in that situation, my “in case of time limitation emergencies” film is always Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. It’s not the greatest choice, but it won’t actively turn people off, and it’s only a little over 2 hours.
On Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 8:38 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
LikeLiked by 1 person
Your “films to avoid” list siunds like “anything with an Indian perspective or sensibility.” 🙂 It rather begs the question if “Why do these people even want to see an “Indian” film?
I’ve done this a lot for over 10 years. It’s hard for people to understand something completely different than what they have been raised with, in terms of film style, political history, acting style, plot, everything. To expect them to embrace it all at once is very difficult. My goal is always to get them to the point where they can fully enjoy Indian film in all its hyper-specific ways. But it is best not to try to do it all at once, but rather to ease them in. I have friends now who have done study abroad in India, follow Indian news and movie star news, and (like myself) would rather watch an Indian film than an American one. But it didn’t happen over night. And I would recommend starting slow and easy and giving them a fighting chance to appreciate the films, rather then expecting them to learn everything all at once.
If you read my full answer, I explain that it depends on the situation. If you have a large group over for a party, then “You want to stay away from something with an Indian specific kind of plot…because you won’t be able to give enough of an explanation for the background. And you want to stay away from something that is a little more over the top…because they will be talking over parts and not focusing and it will make the film seem sillier than it is if you watched it straight through.”
And finally, “Generally, newbies don’t get the humor, they don’t get the tragedies, and they can’t fully appreciate the real classics.”
You can’t learn (or teach) all of Indian film in one evening. All you can do is give them something small like “The songs are visual metaphors” which they can take away from that first evening, and an enjoyable experience that makes them want to come back. And then let them keep coming back and build on it until eventually they can see and appreciate a real classic.
As for the idea of “why do these people even want to see an ‘Indian’ film?” Well, unfortunately, they usually don’t want to see an ‘Indian’ film, they want to see a “Bollywood” film, something that has been packaged and sold to them by the Western media which doesn’t actually exist. And rather than give up on them and let them live in their ignorance, I would rather try to gently teach them what these films really are about and what makes them special.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Who’s your favorite Bollywood mom? Not the actress but the character
1. Jaya Bachchan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham
2. Kirron Kher in Hum Tum
3. Nirupa Roy in Deewar
4. Rakhee in Ram Lakhan/Karan Arjun
5.Reema Lagoo in Vaastav
6.Nargis in Mother India
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well firstly, a confession, I still haven’t seen Vaastav. I know I know, I’m bad! So I am dropping that from the list. Of those remaining, I think I would go in this order:
1. Kirron Kher in Hum Tum: I love that she is a big messy funny emotional person. But underneath it, the same saintly self-sacrificing mother as always. Raised her daughter as a single-parent, and moved overseas to live with her when she was needed. And the reason I really love her, actively encourages her widowed daughter to get remarried! All the love of a mother, with none of the traditionalist blinders.
2. Jaya Bachchan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham: I like that she managed to follow the difficult path of obeying her husband, while still loving her son. She didn’t get in contact with him once he was thrown out of the house, but she made sure he knew this wasn’t her decision and she loved him just as much as ever. However, she also clearly preferred on son over the other (bad mother! Even if you feel that way, don’t let it show!), and she did ultimately obey her husband and choose him over her son. Well, for ten years at least. And then she stood up to him, which is another reason she gets the number two slot.
3. Rakhee in Ram Lakhan/Karan Arjun: I love how powerful she is as a mother, but I don’t like the combined message of “I only love my sons for what they can do for me” and “I have no power on my own, I have to wait for my sons to rescue me.”
4.Nargis in Mother India: Wonderful sacrificial etc. etc. But ultimately, she only had a 1 out of 4 success rate in her children surviving to the end of the movie.
5. Nirupa Roy in Deewar: I used to really like her, and then I read a journal article which pointed out that she unfairly expected her older son to step into the role of father/husband at a young age. That is the tragedy of Amitabh’s life (arguably), not the loss of his father, but that his mother sacrificed his childhood for the sake of her younger son. And that his mother leaned on him more as she would have a husband than a child. Thus leading to his over-inflated sense of sacrifice, and need for his mother’s love.
And can I suggest 3 more to be added? Both Reema Lagoo and Jaya Bachchan in Kal Ho Na Ho. I love how they are allowed to be mothers but people too, which kind of makes their sacrifices more noble. We can see the strain of it. Jaya loves her kids and is there for them, but she is stretched so thin in all directions she can barely get up in the morning, let alone be the smiling supportive presence the mothers are in other movies. And Reema Lagoo is the perfect caregiver for Shahrukh, always there with emotional support, even though we can see that her heart is breaking the whole time.
And Priya Tendulkar from Trimurti. A working mother who can fight alongside her sons.
On Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 9:46 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
LikeLiked by 2 people
do u write reviews for all the films u watch? or only selected ones
It’s kind of a pre-selected thing. I have made such a big time and energy commitment to this blog, that I can’t afford to watch a movie “just” for pleasure any more. So if I am watching a film, it is because I think it will be worth a blog post.
The one exception to that is when I am having a movie night with friends (which I do about once a week). In that case, I only show movies I have already seen, partly so I know my friends will enjoy them, and partly because the first time I watch a film, I am so incredibly focused that the room could burn down around me and I wouldn’t notice, which is not polite hostess behavior! The last few movie nights, we’ve watched Dear Zindagi, Kabali, and Mujshe Dosti Karoge.
However, with all that said, I have watched thousands of Indian films in my lifetime that have not gotten blog posts. I just haven’t watched them in the past 14 months.
LikeLiked by 1 person
How much non-Indian cinema do you watch? With the amount of time you spend watching these movies for your reviews/movie nights/personal enjoyment, I don’t imagine there would be much free time for other types of cinema! Hollywood has left me cold for a long time but I still try to watch the ones by directors I like, or ones that I think I’ll enjoy (plus all the animated and superhero movies, not exactly by choice). I recently watched Moana and La La Land and I thought both were pretty great (the fact that they’re both musicals definitely helped). Since I started watching Indian movies, though, I’ve pretty much lost what little interest I had left in Hollywood. What are some of your favorite American films of the last few years? I hate to ask non-Indian film questions, but I’m curious about the sort of balance that you’re able to strike.
Also, have you ever gone through a lull, or become burnt out on Indian films? I can’t imagine that EVER happening, just based on the variety of genres, styles, the many eras and regions, etc. Just curious!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I took my first serious film class when I was 15, and that’s also the last time I watched movies purely for “pleasure”. When I watch movies, my brain doesn’t turn off, it turns on. From your comments, I’m guessing you are the same way! Or at least, some of the time you are.
There are very rare films, usually ones that I watched when I was a kid, which I can actually see for pure enjoyment without thinking. Preston Sturges movies, for instance, or the Thin Man series. But some others I watched back then, like Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, anything Noir, I get too wrapped up in the visuals and the message and lose track of just enjoying it.
And then, as we’ve talked about before, there are some films that are so brilliant they sort of force me out of myself and I get so over-whelmed I can’t think. But those are rare in American cinema. Rocky, I love. The first one, not the sequels. I love the sequels too, but they aren’t that jaw-dropping brilliant. Upstream Color was super super weird, but I watched it after reading raves on various review sites, and it was similarly just breathtaking for me.
The last American movie I really wanted to own, and which I saw multiple times in theaters, was the very first Star Trek. So that was a long long time ago! The newest Mad Max was of course brilliant, but it didn’t hit exactly the right chord with me, so I only watched it once. Oh! And Creed! I forgot about that. I already loved Rocky, but I loved Creed all on it’s own, brilliant acting, brilliant filming, brilliant script.
Generally, my “turn off the brain” entertainment is TV, not movies. Sitcoms and procedurals, Law & Order reruns, I just finished a Cheers re-watch, that kind of thing. I can kind of half-watch them in the background and still follow what happens.
In terms of running out of interest in Indian films, I did go in and out a little. I was super gung ho back when I first got into them, for about 2 years I focused on watching every single film I could get my hands on. And then I kind of ran out of movies, at least 90s movies with big name stars and good music that I could easily rent/buy. So I slowed down and started re-watching the ones I really liked, or the ones people told me were really good and important. Kind of the process I just went through with the Malayalam films, but times ten. because there were a lot more Hindi films readily available to me back then, so it was about a year and a half of watching 5 films a weekend.
I never stopped completely, but I’ve gone through start and stop periods. I always had my massive DVD shelf to refer back to when I felt like it, and I’d try to see the new big releases in theaters. After I started grad school, I’d purposefully pick class topics that would drive me to areas of film I hadn’t studied as in depth before (for instance, Sexual Revolution on Film got me to look at Bobby really closely). And I always generally had a sort of “it’s important for me to watch these films for my own knowledge base” mental list that I would crank through when I was in the mood.
What I’ve discovered with Indian films is that you reach a sort of tipping point where it’s no longer a matter of being “obsessed” with them, but more that they are part of your balanced entertainment diet. Maybe you go on a Parks and Rec binge, or try out Hong Kong for a while, and forget about them, but after a while you will get a hankering for Indian again. It takes months and months of viewing, and it takes actually going out and learning more about the movies, to reach that point. But I think if anyone is at the phase of actually reading my blog, they are pretty safely on the other side where Indian film will always be a part of their lives!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Usually when a Mahesh Babu movie is about to come out, I go on a two week detox because I don’t want to get too hyped up for the movie and end up disappointed. For example, I was super excited in 2014 when Aagadu came out but I ended up disappointed by the movie though I now feel that it’s a good timepass movie. So before Srimanthudu came out in 2015, I spent two weeks watching How I Met Your Mother and I didn’t watch a single Telugu movie during that span.
You on the other hand seem to every single promo and poster and compare them to Shahrukh’s previous movies. Have you ever been super disappointed since what you ended up seeing was what you didn’t expect?
I’ve been disappointed, but not super disappointed 🙂
Happy New Year and Dilwale, for instance, I already had pretty low expectations based on the trailers. Knew there would be some really good chemistry moments, knew there would be some comedy I didn’t like, knew there would be some songs and action bits that were just sort of eh.
Watching the promos and stuff is more of a mental game for me than anything. And I do it for every major release, not just the Shahrukh ones. I like to see if I can accurately guess what is going to happen in the film, to remind myself of previous things that might give context, etc. etc.
And I also like to try to untangle the messages the filmmakers are giving us. Do they think the audience wants a romance or an action movie? Are they releasing the songs first or the story trailers? Which actor are they highlighting? It’s all part of figuring out the direction of the industry, what audience are they trying to attract, what hidden social message might they be trying to give?
But I do have to say, before I started blogging and getting really serious, I would sometimes enjoy just watching a few trailers and showing up at the movie ready to like it or dislike it, but not think so much about if it was going to be a hit, or make India more feminist, or get politicians angry, or all the rest of it.
Yeah, I like to figure out what the story will be like and everything but you are on a whole another level 🙂