Friday Classics: Queen, The Original Will Always Be the Best

Thanks to all this buzz about the remakes, I thought it would be a good time to stop and reflect on the original.  Plus, counter-programming to the very male new releases this week, Spyder and Judwaa 2!

Queen is the very rare film that I wanted to see with my mother, but not my father, instead of the other way around.  My mother has very very specific taste in films.  Very very specific and impossible to predict.  We all have a relative like that, right?  You are all excited, you think you have the perfect film for them, they watch it and say “I can see why you liked it, it was such fun spending time with you.”  And then there is some other film you would never have thought of ever showing her, and she will watch it on her own and say “I loved it!  Just the best movie, I have to go back tomorrow.”  And it’s not like my mother has bad taste!  Everything she enjoys is good.  There’s just a whole world of other good options out there that, for impossible inexplicable reasons, she does not like.  Here, you see if you can figure it out.  These are some of the movies my mother loves: Last of the Mohicans, Laura, Bourne Identity, Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, Bahubali, Paheli, Bangalore Days, Ohm Shanti Oshaana.  And here are some movies she suffered through but didn’t really like: Manam, Premam, Action Hero Biju, Everything Else I Have Shown Her in My Entire Life.  When she starts sighing 5 minutes into the film and doesn’t stop until 5 minutes before the end, I know I have once again failed.  But, WHY????  Like, Premam was no good because “the hero was too violent” and yet Gadar is her favorite!?!??!?  I’m not alone in this right?  Other people have that one impossible to predict movie person in their life?  Feel free to vent in the comments.

Meanwhile, my father, he is extremely reliable and predictable.  And also the one who watched movies with us a lot when we were kids, because he was so happy to have a non-insane film companion.  Action films, superhero films, comedies, anything good really, he will enjoy it.  And we just kind of leave Mom at home, or watch it while she is making dinner.  Unless it’s something like Bajrangi Bhaijaan or Bahubali where I am absolutely totally 100% sure she will enjoy it.  Or Queen.

The thing about Queen is, there are no flaws to pick up on.  Even for a very very picky viewer.  The worst reaction you could get would be boredom from someone who just plain doesn’t get it at all.  Which is why I didn’t want to watch it with my father.  I mean, I was pretty sure he would understand it?  But I was absolutely sure that any woman would understand it.

Queen has such a simple yet universal yet specific story.  Simple because it is contained in the one sentence plot description that was readily available during the promotional tour, “a jilted bride goes on her honeymoon alone”.  Universal, because it is about a woman who has never really thought about who she is outside of what she is expected to be.  And specific, because our heroine isn’t some fake glossy filmi version of a person, she is a real person from a particular place with particular attitudes and behaviors and everything else.

But the real reason I wanted to watch it with my mother was one tiny moment in the middle of the opening song.  Which is one of those perfect moments that feel so real you can’t believe they were captured on film.  Our heroine is dancing at her mehndi party, surrounded by her family, and she looks through the crowd and for a moment her eyes meet her mother and her mother has this perfect expression of happiness and sadness and care and everything else that is motherhood as she looks at her radiantly happy daughter.

This movie came out right after my sister’s wedding, and we had both (my mother and I) felt that kind of delicate joy in her happiness, something that you never see or hear about in “mother of the bride” stories.  And here was this movie, perfectly calibrated to capture that feeling.

That was one moment, the moment that landed for me, but there were so many other moments that weren’t for me, that were for other people with other concerns and identities.  The whole film was made up of those moments, those moments that were just right, just perfect for what they were.  Moments of friendship, of heartbreak, of everything else.

 

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

 

 

 

 

 

There is a tricky balance right at the beginning, we have to hate Rajkummar Rao as the worst person in the history of the world, but we have to also understand why our heroine would have been in love with him at one point.  And so we have to go through their early romance, back when he was a slightly different person and she was the same sweet innocent she is now.  A son of a friend of her father’s who comes into her sweet shop, and then shows up at her school.  He wears her down with his persistence, and she very slowly comes to trust him, because he is awkward and real and at the same time so sure of his feelings.  And besides, their families know each other, his parents like her, everything seems safe and aboveboard.

Yes, part of this is that our heroine is innocent.  But innocent, not foolish.  She wants a small happy life, marrying someone who her parents approve of, being a good wife to him, and that’s all.  And her mind is full of the wedding and teasing about the honeymoon and small things like that.  Innocent.  But she hasn’t made any foolish mistakes in this small life plan.  She has been very careful and considered in everything she does.  Which is what makes it so shocking when it all falls apart.

I suppose we can understand Rajkummar a little because of how innocent Kangana is.  We still hate him, but we can understand.  He has been overseas, he has convinced himself that he is better than this little girl from back home who never wanted or thought of anything outside of her tiny life.  Of course, that doesn’t give him the right to blow her tiny life to pieces.

They really sell just how much this wrecks her.  It’s not just that her whole life plan has fallen apart, that she has been forced to question everything, it’s that the lives of everyone around her have also fallen apart.  Her parents, her little brother, her grandmother, all the other relatives staying with them, the are all miserable as well.  Not because of some abstract concept of family “honor” like it would be in a different film, but because they also believed in her life plan, that their daughter’s happiness would be guaranteed forever and ever as soon as this one ceremony was over.  Maybe Kangana/the audience could forgive Rajkummar Rao for breaking her heart, but can we forgive him for breaking her father’s heart, her mother’s, her uncles and aunts and everyone else who believed in him?  Not her little brother of course, because her little brother is a smart cookie and never really trusted him.

One of the best things about this film is the relationship between Kangana and her brother and the rest of the family.  In a different film/family it would feel like “we had a daughter first, but kept trying because of course we really wanted a son”.  But in this family it feels like “we had a son for the primary purpose of being a protector and chaperon for our daughter because she is the most important”.  Or at least, in this one small part of their lives that we are seeing, it is clear that Kangana is the family focus and the son is an afterthought.  He is there to protect his sister, to cheer her up, to help her, to sit in the back of the rickshaw any time she wants to go anywhere just in case.

The feminist message of the film doesn’t start when Kangana goes overseas, it’s before that, in the way her whole family treats her.  The total unquestioning love and support they give her.  And the freedom, she can make any decision she wants and they will go along with it.  Sure her little brother has to go with her when she leaves the house, but that’s a convenience for her, not a restriction.  She has lived the life of a perfect daughter, but not because her family forced her to, but because she loves them and wants to make them happy.  And is happy in her small life.  And once she wants something different, she lets them know that she won’t do anything that would make them unhappy, but this is what she wants.  And of course they let her go, because they want her to be happy.

The opening of the overseas section, when “nothing happens” is as important as the rest of it.  It’s easy in films, and in real life, to think that everything will change just because you are in a different place.  But nothing changes until you yourself change.  Kangana is on the other side of the world, but she is still the sad heartbroken shy lonely girl.  Which is why she gives up, goes to a travel agency and asks to be sent back home.  It’s only when she fights off a purse snatcher that she starts to change inside.  It’s not the place, it’s the person.

And of course it’s also Lisa Haydon!  Who shows Kangana that she can be loved by many people.  It’s not a coincidence that Lisa Haydon’s character has the same name as Rajkummar Rao.  She isn’t an alternative version of Kangana, a wilder more experienced Kangana, she is an alternative version of Rajkummar Rao, the truly experienced and cosmopolitan person that Rajkummar is just pretending to be.  And she still likes Kangana.  She appreciates her for what she is, makes her realize that she can be an interesting worthy person without changing herself.  And gently encourages her on her next step of her journey.

In Amsterdam, Kangana meets 3 new people, 3 new versions of herself.  Tim, who has the warmth and caring for others that is at her heart.  Taka, who has the cheer in the face of adversity.  And Oleksander who has the gentle heartbreak.  She learns to trust them, and therefore herself.  She learns to enjoy them and care for them, and therefore herself.  And finally, she learns to protect them, and therefore herself.  When Rajkummar shows up again in Amsterdam, the 3 boys are ready to fight him for her, but she doesn’t need them any more, because she has embraced those identities within herself.

When she turns down Rajkummar in Amsterdam and returns to spend time with her 3 friends, it’s not just choosing friendship over love, or choosing to walk away from Rajkummar Rao (who is the Worst Person in History, have I said that yet?), it’s choosing herself, people like her who are caring and kind and want you to be happy, over terrible people.

Through out this film we have snatches of those caring people.  And a whole variety of ways in which they care.  I already mentioned that moment at the wedding with her mother.  And her little brother, 4 feet tall and ready to fight the world for her.  But there’s also Lisa Haydon, who is such a different person than Kangana, but really wants her to be happy and safe.  And the 3 boys who feel the same, each in their own way.  Oleksander, obviously, is in love with her.  In an unspoken “nothing is ever going to happen” kind of way.  Kangana knows it too, on some level, that’s part of her journey, that there is someone else who cares for her that way, like Rajkummar did, but with a purity he never had.  She is still lovable.  There’s even the Italian restaurant owner.  Who is abrasive and rude, but not cruel.  Or unjust.  Kangana knows when he tells her she was good at her job, he is being honest.  And when she kisses him, it isn’t just him being kind, he must have liked the kiss or he would have said something.  There’s even the Amsterdam stripper, seemingly a woman that Kangana would have nothing in common with.  And yet, like Kangana, she loves her family and is doing all of this to take care of them and make them happy.

And so when Kangana returns to India to finally and completely reject Rajkummar, it’s not because she is angry or unhappy or doesn’t trust him.  It’s because she is rejecting him for who he is.  Small and petty and cruel and selfish.  Unable to ever put anyone else’s needs ahead of his own.  She wanted to marry him because she thought she could trust him, she thought her family could trust him, she thought she knew him after years and years and years of dating.  But now she understands that she didn’t know him at all, they were not the same people, he was not the one for her.  She had more in common with Lisa Haydon and her 3 boys in Amsterdam than she ever would with him.

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68 thoughts on “Friday Classics: Queen, The Original Will Always Be the Best

  1. I’m at the first part of the spoilers and I want to add that the flirting/getting to know someone who’s family is friends with your family is family approved in middle class India. That’s how people get married in love-cum-arranged marriages (yeah, that’s what they call that!)

    Also, Delhi middle class is notoriously materialistic and infamous for stepping on people in favor of social mobility.

    The Delhi setting isn’t incidental. It’s meticulously planned. Because bride ditching elsewhere results in bride and family either killing the groom’s family or the bride has to kill herself because stupid indian society.

    Delhi is uniquely positioned because it is the only metro in the north and thus a jilted bride can always be married to someone who lives far away from Delhi so her left at the alter status doesn’t affect her. Broken engagements are also not rare in Delhi middle class so the city backdrop is almost a character in the opening too. Like Paris is about her discovering her love for herself.

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    • Exactly! Kangana felt “safe” with Rajkummar, there was an unspoken understanding all along. Another reason we can forgive her for not realizing from the start that he is the scum of the earth. And another reason he really is the scum of the earth, marriage was in the cards since the very very beginning and he should have known that. If he thought he would change his mind later, he shouldn’t have flirted with a nice family approved girl.

      Delhi middle-class being materialistic, we mean Rajkummar and his family, right? Because it felt like there was a tiny shift there, her family was so happy with their tiny sweet shop and little life, but his family had to send their son overseas, and had the big fancy house, and all of that. And I definitely didn’t feel like her family was trying to marry their daughter off to a rich boy, it was just a nice bonus that they could worry about her less if she was in a family that seemed stable and well off. Until they learned that family/their son was willing to leave their daughter in the dust if they felt like they could do better. Although in the beginning it seems like they were on more of an even footing, the parents were old friends and Rajkummar didn’t seem that fancy in college days. I am picturing a sudden increase in wealth which made marriage to Kangana a lot less appealing.

      Did you also notice that Kangana’s family were refugees? So it feels like they may have been a little past that whole “everything has to be the same as it always was” kind of feeling, since it already wasn’t the same. Specifically her grandmother talked about losing her first love/fiance and then moving on to someone else in a love marriage. So her family was kind of traditional/untraditional already.

      There was a great balance of showing that this broken engagement really was a terrible thing to do (because Rajkummar is scum, have I mentioned that?), but not as bad as it would have been elsewhere. The money was spent, the family was embarrassed, Kangana was heartbroken. But it isn’t exactly the life or death issue it might have been in another situation. Another part of Rajkummar’s scumminess, I don’t think he would have been brave enough to break it off if they were in a place where he would have had to face serious consequences. He could handle the mild embarrassment to his family, but he wouldn’t have been able to face down angry relatives beating him up.

      On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 11:00 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Every second person in Delhi is a refugee. So that’s not something that’s unique in the setting they’re in. When I say Delhi middle class is materialistic, I mean all of them. The reason why her family doesn’t make a fuss is because there’s this unspoken ethics of pragmatism in this society. If someone has a better option and they take it, you’re upset but you forgive them because you understand that if you had the same choice, you’d do the same thing with the same level of regret for hurting the other party. Not taking a stellar opportunity because of a promise is considered regressive and old fashioned. People can choose to prize that as an honorable thing but nobody really minds. That’s why Rani visits her formed MIL to be in her new avatar, she is glad about her having updated to “their level” so there’s no ill will between them for real. It was just more pragmatic for him to break up with her before the wedding because there was going to be a status difference between them in the near future.

        Compare this to the actual on ground horrific practise of NRIs arriving in India to get a bride and then basically never bringing them back with them to their overseas base. This happens for real especially in the Punjabi belt so Rajkummar actually does a halfway decent thing by telling her in advance that his situation has changed and he no longer thinks the marriage would work. It seems fickle compared to the emotion peddled as real in general in Indian films but Delhi middle class is very flexible like that. See Where tanu and manu end up. Even after a mess like that they can still get back together again and it’s still acceptable. Pragmatism.

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        • Huh, I hadn’t thought of that. You’re right, her family did kind of accept the slight in an odd way. Since there didn’t seem to be any difference between the two families besides money. But her father is still ready to apologize and do anything to make the marriage happen, and then move right on to taking care of his daughter. Well, except her AWESOME little brother, who is the only one that seems correctly angry about it all. But the rest of them have a “well, it was his right to turn her down and we will leave the family alone” kind of feeling. I chalked it up to general “we are the bride’s family, we are less than dirt, we just take whatever is dished out” attitude, but your explanation makes more sense.

          I’m sorry, I refuse to give Rajkummar credit for doing anything decent ever.

          On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 11:32 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That’s why the brother is a kid you see. This is why he had to be younger. He can be the voice of reason without having the authority to act and influence events. But he tells you where your moral compass should point – to the emotional damage- and not to the pragmatic side of society that let’s someone break a promise.

            BUT she gets over it and we’re back in the pragmatic grown-up Delhi middle class society. She isn’t holding on to the hurt because she was never in love. Because she couldn’t have known love. Because she is raised to find the pragmatism not the passion.

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          • I really want a sequel with the brother having grown up into a grumpy unattractive unclassy lawyer type who takes on the unpopular cases and aggressively fights for his clients, never having lost that passionate sense of right and wrong. Oh oh! And Lisa Haydon can hire him in her custody dispute!!!! And they can finally get together. Sure there’s a 10 year age gap, but I am sure it will work out fine.

            I agree with the never having known love. But I would expand it to be a criticism of the whole system of these kinds of relationships. She and Rajkummar got together because it was easy in a way. She took each cautious step forward with her life plan in mind, not just her heart. And Rajkummar never really let her see the real him long enough for her to be able to be in love with him. You still haven’t seen Jab Harry Met Sejal, but it’s another spin on it, our heroine is confident that she is “in love” with her fiance, but Shahrukh keeps cynically pointing out that she doesn’t even know what love is, not real love, it’s not what her class of society would accept, and it’s not what you have in these family approved relationships that don’t go beyond holding hands until after marriage. Which, yes, gets back to the pragmatism of it all. But the pragmatism is built in, it’s not just Kangana, it’s the way the whole thing works.

            Oh, and I also like the way the flashbacks to the relationship as the film goes on show not just that it was never that great of a relationship, but that Rajkummar was always kind of horrible. Even if he had never gone overseas and gotten over her, he still would have been bossy and restrictive and all of that.

            On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 11:54 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Except she didn’t take cautious steps. See, I’m not entirely sure if you get how hardwired expectations are and how routine the lives of people in India really are. You believe it when parents hover a newborn and say oh he will be a doctor and we flash forward to him as a doctor or how people arrange marriage for their kids and then anger a bunch of twists they do fall in love and get married etc, right? That’s not abnormal. We’re used to having our paths set by society and by our families etc. Rani is Jane Bennett. Not Elizabeth. She doesn’t think. Her thoughts aren’t original. She just enacts what is expected of her within her class. She had saved up for her honeymoon in Paris because she wanted to go abroad. Not because Paris held a special meaning for her. So she does.

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          • How soothing that would be! To never have to think for yourself. I know I would probably hate it after 6 months, but having been brought up in the “whatever you dream you can achieve! Be free!” environment, it sounds kind of nice. Like when I visited my grandparents and Grandma had breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the table at the exact right time and you knew exactly what you were supposed to do at any moment of the day. And then after about 3 days, we all started to go crazy because we just wanted permission to eat between meals and get our clothes dirty every once in a while and I started to miss the more catch-as-catch-can environment of my parents’ house.

            On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:17 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That was my Grandma. The perfect 1950s wife and mother her entire life and very happy in that role.

            On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:32 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • So is my mom. I’m forever feeling like I don’t do enough around the house even when I’ve spent 14-16 hours at work for months on end just because my mom’s been the perfect housewife.

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          • My mother, as she constantly pointed out to us, gave us the gift of not having anything to live up to in terms of housekeeping. I mean, there was food on the table and clean clothes to put on. And she was a wonderful mother in terms of reading stories to us and taking care of us when we were sick and so on (still is, I moved in to their place and let her take care of me twice last winter). But the little extra stuff like, say, dusting. Or vacuuming. Or having furniture that wasn’t falling apart. Or making sure there weren’t random piles of things all over every surface. That kind of fell by the wayside. There was one time a friend came over for a party and made a huge deal of “wait, what is this I see? THE KITCHEN COUNTER? Who knew it was there, underneath all the dirty dishes usually piled atop?”

            Anyway, it really was a gift. Now I look around my apartment and feel like the best homemaker in the world if there are actual places to sit without stuff on them.

            On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:36 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Oh no!!!! Not at all! In fact, she is a mental health professional. That’s what she was struggling with. She was working part time, and taking care of two kids and the house. So kids first, and the basics of house stuff (clean clothes, food, etc.), but then work on top of things like dusting twice a day or going through the mail promptly before it piled up or making a 4 course dinner every night. It was an incredibly happy home, just not exactly a magazine spread ready beautiful home. Which was a nice priority to grow up with, it’s okay to have a few dirty dishes in the sink so long as your house is happy. I mean, I know other households managed both things, but if you could only have one, spending the time reading aloud to us every night was nicer then spending the time doing dishes.

            On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 1:04 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That explains a lot! My college psychology professor was something like that. Why is that? I would know if I did my masters in psychology instead of English literature! 😂

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        • Asmita, your comment about Punjabi belt reminds me of the movie ‘Heaven on earth’. The movie is a bit depressing (because I can’t watch people suffering) but I watched till the end because of Preity Zinta and also to see what happens with king cobra. I don’t like stereotyping people, but as you said, that really happens especially with Punjabis and Gujaratis in GTA area of Canada.

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  2. You know how Kangana basically doesn’t change in who she is but just gains the confidence to reject the guy that broke her heart (a feat the best of us with the best of options take years to accomplish) but she remains the girl that makes the food choices in life. Because that’s what people do in India. You make a choice to be bad, being good is not an option you have. IT’S EXPECTED. Like being an engineer or doctor if you’re born in a family that’s in those professions. You make a choice to not be exactly that.

    That’s why Rani is every indian girl. She’s what’s a girl is raised to be. Tanu 1+2 is the choice.

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    • What I love is that it shows how she can be happy, and reject the guy, without needing to be “bad”. That is, if you are a “good” girl and you aren’t brave enough or it just isn’t in you to be “bad”, you can still be happy and do brave things without totally changing yourself.

      I am so glad she didn’t actually have an affair with Oleksander, or do anything more than get a little drunk one night with Lisa Haydon. Or even start dressing in a totally different way. She was still herself straight through, just a slightly freer braver version of herself.

      On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 11:18 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I sometimes feel the character was very flat and we only find her interesting because we’re presented with the emotional challenge right at the very start. The jilting appeals to that aching corner of us which houses memories of our first heartbreak. We wish we had the chance to just go to Paris after that first bad heartbreak and we wish we didn’t have to face our friends and family just after it. And the rest of the ride is just that tugs at the memory of the emotional need to escape without really taking a huge leap like sleeping with a random stranger or taking up a job overseas.

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        • I agree. She is kind of a simple person. Which is part of what makes the film brilliant. This is the character that in another movie would be the butt of jokes, or the forgotten little sister type role. Heck, this is Mandira Bedi in DDLJ! Not as exciting as the real heroine, not as adventurous as the hero, not as deep even. But that doesn’t mean she should be hurt or ignored or has no value. And her travel abroad to new places shows that, at home she is one of a type and everyone overlooks her, but overseas they can see how special her “type” is, just a nice sweet person who happily laughs at her own little jokes and makes everyone brush their teeth in the morning.

          On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 11:36 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I agree that the film is brilliant not the character and for someone like kangana who’s used to being the total opposite of this in real life, to play someone so nondescript is the real accomplishment.

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  3. Oh btw, do you realize Rajkummar sort of does exactly what SRK does to Mandira in DDLJ? The promise to love/wed and leading the girl on is exactly what Rajkummar did and exactly what Raj did. And both ditched the girl they led on for a better option for themselves.

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    • Yes, but SRK is so cute with the dimples and the everything!!!

      More seriously, one of my favorite things in DDLJ is that Raj/the film takes a moment at the end to sincerely apologize to Mandira Bedi and acknowledge that she was an innocent victim in all of this and the truly wronged party. Plus, of course, the other differences that he didn’t aggressively pursue the girl and then change his mind, it was all an accident.

      Again, Rajkummar is scum!!! Kangana didn’t go after him, didn’t even want him, he chased and chased, she finally gave in and started planning around him, and then poof! He changes his mind and disappears. You could also say it’s what DDLJ would have been like if right before their wedding, Shahrukh had said to Kajol “yeah, I’m just not feeling it any more, you know? That whole romance thing, I’m just kind of over it. We want different things. You would be happier with someone else.”

      On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:02 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • That was punjab which is where the girls kill themselves or at least sincerely attempt suicide because of broken engagements. (now you know why I HAD to get Mr. X back for his wedding)

        So what SRK was doing, in 1995, was way worse and way more objectifying to a girl with almost no agency at all.

        Hell, he chose to have her go to her wedding in front of her entire clan with the plan to win over her father who would have had to explain why his daughter was not marrying the guy the invitation said. Can you imagine that knowing what you know of Indian families from your India trip even today?

        SRK in DDLJ is an entitled NRI a-hole who thinks he can come mock Indian village culture and TWO well known families from that small village just because he’s an NRI. Easy being an out of towner who doesn’t have to stay back and face the gossip or brave the questions. He just left with the girl and left her family to clean up the mess.

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        • But the dimples! And anyway, he and Kajol and Anupam got out clean, so long as they send for Farida and Pooja Ruperal to come live with them, I don’t really care about the rest of the people.

          Okay, except Mandira Bedi. She got a raw deal. Maybe Shahrukh arranges for her to marry Karan Johar to make up for it. But let Kuljit and Satish Shah and Amrish face all the family dishonor they want, they deserve it!

          Also, there is a whole paper somewhere about how the two biggest hit Indian films in history have the happy ending of our hero and heroine getting on a train and getting THE HECK OUT OF THE VILLAGE.

          On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:24 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Sholay. People forget, but after all the agony and everything, the real ending is Veeru and Basanti taking the train the heck out of there and leaving Thakur Sahib and everyone else to their small miserable lives. Gabbar is gone, but that doesn’t mean you want to stay in the village. Earlier, there is a faint towards Jai and Veeru settling down there, but it was never really going to happen. They were too big and free-thinking and outspoken and intelligent for this life, and Basanti was really really too much for this village.

            On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:33 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Well, it kind of is. Thakur Sahib specifically asks Veeru to stay, and he’s like “nope! Just can’t do it”. And then gets on the train to discover that Basanti made the same choice. And even Thakur Sahib, the best person in the village, he went away at some point in the past and has that outside experience.

            On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:38 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • The thing about Sholey is that the Jai Veeru friendship is the only pure thing in there. Everyone else is a sinner or a weirdo who has no place in the real world. If they released an extended director’s cut which included an epilogue about how this lore is something conjured up by two convicts stuck in jail for life just to entertain themselves, it would still make sense. The village is a deathtrap. Who’d wanna live there? Thakur only lives there because he wants revenge.

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          • See??? This is what I am saying, the two most popular Indian films ever have an overriding message of “villages suck”. Okay, and then there’s Mughal-E-Azam, which has the message of “People in love are lame”. And Mother India, which has the message of “villages suck so bad that you have to be the greatest heroine in history to survive them”. And Bahubali which has some other message I haven’t figured out yet.

            On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:58 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Bahubali is a typical indian story. It is so indian that they decide a kid’s career within a few hours of his birth and he is ready to die to fulfil the ambition chosen for him 😂

            I don’t think either of those films were about leaving the village. If you’re an outsider, you don’t leave. You return to where you came from. You leave when you’re from there.

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          • Bunty aur babli! And guru. Those are the only ones I can think if with a straight up “we were born here but we don’t belong here” message. Well, and bangalore days.

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          • Villages suck. And small towns even more so. They murder ambitions dreams people all in the name of conservatism.

            Dr. Ambedkar had once famously said…“The love of the intellectual Indian for the village community is of course infinite, if not pathetic….What is a village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow mindedness and communalism?”

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          • YES!!! That is the quote I was trying to remember!!!! It was in the Guha History of India book when he was talking about the debate over local governance and how Ambedkar stood out for the constitution giving only limited powers to Panchayats.

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          • Margaret, leaving a village or hometown is not the same for Indians like it is for Americans. Indians have much more bonding with friends and family members and environment. Especially if one person has to leave his family member to survive on their own, and goes to greener pasture, never to return, he is treated like a lowlife.

            There is a Kamal Hassan classic “Devar Magan” remade in Hindi as “Virasat”. Hero wants to leave the village for a better life in city, but is forced to live in and live for the village. That movie realistically shows how people are sucked into the quicksand of village life, and its not simple escapist ‘jumping into the running train and then happily ever after’ as shown in DDLJ or Sholey.

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        • As always…I couldn’t have said it better than Asmita, but thats why I don’t like such “heroic” love stories. True, hero/heroine can choose their own destinies, but what about parent’s social status especially in small villages?

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    • You’re kinda close to my point. Which, if I’m articulating it correctly, is that Rani is extremely comfortable inside the same system and even upholds it to an extent. Her character is flat. The only development is that she gets to say “I’m better than you” curiously this is after her “foren travel” which is exactly what the guy did earlier. He left for a foren country and thought he was better than Rani because of that one fact. It’s really ironic that her rejection of him is based on the same experience (foren travel) as his rejection of her is. Are they the same person? Quite possibly.

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      • Yep. Neither of them changed anything about themselves. Just visited a foreign country and decided that they were better than what they earlier were. Which they aren’t. They are the same.

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        • i specifically detest the “foren” country bit. Had it been like he comes into a huge inheritance or he discovered a liking for the posh life in which she wouldn’t be able to fit in at all and then she had the makeover and showed how he was wrong in assuming she wouldn’t fit in with his new life, it would make more sense.

          BUT, since it’s Delhi middle class, the vanity angle is totally acceptable and instinctively understood and there’s no need to address the materialism and commodification of brides in that culture.

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          • It had to happen this way. You’re right. It’s so petty and stupid. And it walks right into the oldest trope in the world-that travelling makes you a better person but without explaining how and why the place you travelled to helped. Paris should have been a character in the film. But she just did the sane old tour guide ish things that say someone like Harry from JHMS would fucking hate her for. Which is why I liked JHMS soooooooo much more. Honestly Queen doesn’t even deserve that comparison but now that we are there might as well run with it. What does it say about Indian society and ppl that queen was a hit and jhms was not? They want the by the book lol princess to finish her lil silly adventure and cone back to be the exact same person. No growth other than to dump the boyfriend who already dumped her! And don’t you dare hook up with someone seriously while you’re there.

            I wish she had changed in some way because of the art and beauty in Paris. Learnt French maybe. Gotten some enlightenment values instead of the trite kiss and 3 friends of different races bit. The only part I liked was the Lisa Haydon part and that she was actually portrayed as a nice girl. If you ask me she almost ran away with the movie. 10 minutes more of Lisa and she would become Parineeti of LvRB- stealing the movie completely!

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          • I hate, actually hate, the overseas travel bit. Why can’t people travel to another part of India and get enlightened? Every “India changed my life” story you hear from a foreigner, IRL and in films, comes with bits like “we saw how little people had and yet they smiled at us” or “we experienced the local culture and discovered their values”. Point is, a foreigner coming to India changes them on a spiritual level and they are impacted by the places they see here. Indians go overseas, IRL and in films, and they remain exactly who they are, they have little or no interaction with local culture (or local culture that is starkly different from Indian urban culture), they miss India and Indian culture horribly and do everything in their power to cling to it, and yet their foren travel changes them! Indian travelers and films about Indian travellers to overseas destinations don’t even acknowledge the existence of an NRI culture.

            Even in queen, the weirdo aunty she visits in Paris is exactly like an aunty in Delhi would be!!

            But you do see the distinction in some films. Look at English Vinglish. A very good example of personal growth through interaction with a foreign culture.

            You also have films like East is East and West is West (technically they’re Pakistani but same difference) and how beautifully they explore these themes.

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          • This is so funny, because the same thing you are talking about with foreigners coming to India is exactly what bothers me in the same way! I mean, we have poverty here you know. You don’t have to go to India to discover happy poor people. You can just drive a few miles from your house.

            Just going somewhere different doesn’t broaden you, it’s being open to new experiences and changes in your attitudes that changes you.

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          • EXACTLY. But I guess seeing local poor people being happy gives people slightly better off in life an existential crisis. It’s better to go to Asia and see happy poor people there and wonder how they can be so happy with nothing.

            I think Salaam Namastey is one film that I can think of where Indians leave India and they act like locals would to an extent. I’m really trying very hard to think of an Indian film about an Indian traveller who actual travels in the truest sense.

            On a personal evel, I don’t think travelling makes any difference to who one is as a person. If you’re an idiot, travel only makes you a well-travelled idiot. If you’re sensitive and open to experiences changing you, you can never leave a village and have lived a life full of experiences and emotions. Which is kind of where our small-town films are coming from aren’t they?

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          • I don’t like English vinglish or east is east. I think I like bend it like beckham. But mostly Indians don’t learn to grow and appreciate the good things in western culture- which is mostly the museums the history the art . Maybe the food on a slightly lower level. How can you appreciate that freedom to be if you don’t see what freedom has given them -I mean I know ppl who found the louvre boring and said Mona Lisa was “so small”. Pathetic!

            I grew up in Mysore which was a huge tourist attraction and the foreign tourists would spend time in the museums palaces temples understanding and appreciating the art and culture. A lot of them would visit during Dasara when Mysore was even more beautiful and cultural than ever. The Indian esp North Indian tourists would go one day to the palace admire how rich the king was go for a day picnic to krs gardens one day to the temple to seek blessings and that would be it. Lame and trite.

            Also this “we saw how little people had and yet they smiled at us” is making me laugh. Poverty porn 🙄

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          • Poverty porn is literally what I’ve heard from every single one of non-indian friends that have visited India and random tourists I’ve met in Himachal at least. It always reminded me of the dialogue “real india, poor people” that a Japanese tourist says in some film! LOL

            Indian tourists travelling inside India are probably worse than Indian travellers abroad. Domestic tourists just dash to tourist spots, do the tourist-y thing (riding a horse or a yak or whatever and taking pictures, dressing up in local costumes and taking pictures, having ice cream and taking pictures of themselves). Nobody even takes a moment to appreciate a monument and it’s history. It’s just the spectacle of being there and taking pictures. There is no experiencing the local scenery or local anything or even talking to the locals or smiling at them! I grew up in Shimla and tourist season made going to town unbearable.

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          • Oh yeah Simla. I love the architecture there. Used to spend hours just walking around looking at the various buildings and their facades.

            Nobody cares about history in this country unless it’s political 😐

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          • Viceregal Lodge is my absolute fav! We used to walk all the way there from town several times through the year and we took the tour every time. I imagine that estate every time I think of a period horror story. Of course, I did experience a ghost/presence within it’s grounds too so that’s natural LOL

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          • Munna Bhai! One of my favorite parts of the film. And then Circuit knocks him out and throws him in a bag for Munna to dissect.

            On Sat, Sep 30, 2017 at 1:25 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Sigh!Your review is very persuasive and almost makes me wish I could like the film.But I didn’t like any of the characters and was bored out of my mind.Ditto 3 Idiots,Premam,GOT and Friends.It’s terrible being the only person in the room not liking any of the above.I am SO tired of people convincing me.

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    • You are my mother!!!!! that one incredibly difficult to please person!!!! You even have the “sigh” down! And the generous self-aware attitude that other people may like things you do not.

      Now that I have identified you, I am going to take your suggestions for the films you enjoy a lot more seriously.

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  5. @ Margaret Your mom and I have so many favorites in common.And she’s so lucky to have a daughter to pick out movies exactly to her taste.I liked Gadar too.But it would have been so much better without Sunny’s bombastic speeches.Isn’t he a chip off the old block?And Amisha was so convincing and vulnerable.But where the heck did she get her nun costume?She looks like no nun that I have ever seen. As for Bourne Legacy, has your mother read the book on which it was based? It’s so good and begging for an Indian version.Can you do a Sunday speculative on it?

    @Asmita I was tagged with the “She likes arts films” the first time I went into rhapsodies about Lootera at work.I’ve learned that most people (including me) have an instinctive reaction towards anything labelled ‘artsy’. So poor Lootera was dismissed as an ‘award movie’ despite it being a lovely commercial movie with excellent visuals,songs,acting and a story.Simply because someone somewhere heard that it was based on “Last Leaf” and hence an artsy movie.These are some of the movies which I often rewatch.In no particular order -Badlapur,Aurangzeb,Rocket Singh,Talaash, Rajneeti,Lootera,Jodha Akbar,Don,Ladies vs Ricky Behl, Dum laga ke haisha,Oceans Trilogy,Kingdom of Heaven.I’m a sucker for romcoms (Jab we met, anything from Yashraj) and supernatural investigative thrillers or plain procedurals like Grimm,Angel (and Buffy),Perception,Castle,White Collar,Life,Person of Interest,Prison Break.Oh yes Shahrukh gets a free pass simply because he’s my first crush.

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