Discussion Post: How Did You First Find/ReFind Indian Film/A Particular Language of Indian Film?

I know I have asked this question many times before, but it is a fun one. And one that everyone should be able to answer, even if the answer is “I was born and it was there because my parents are Indian”. Although I am also expanding it, so if you spent your life watching Indian movies and not really thinking about it, and then as a teenager really really fell in love with one movie that got you seriously into the films, tell that story. Or if you have already told your Hindi film story, tell your Tamil or Malayalam or Telugu film story instead. Remember, I am giving away an SRK poster at the end of the month to the person who makes the most comments!

I’ve already told my story of finding Hindi film (watched Lagaan in high school, liked it but wasn’t blown away, stumbled into a showing of DDLJ at an art theater when I was a freshman in college, loved it). But I can tell my story of finding non-Hindi Indian movies.

That same weekend I saw Lagaan in theaters, I also watched Kandukondain Kandukondain, a Tamil movie. It was okay, but it didn’t sweep me away the way that DDLJ did. It was a combination of too fantastical (the strange fantasy songs with the fairy tale setting, and the body make-up), and not fantastical enough (the shabby looking computer office, the less handsome and charming heroes). I appreciated it as a film, but I didn’t fall in love.

This is weird

I watched a couple other non-Hindi films over the years, I saw Roja and Bombay from Mani Ratnam, and Jeans from Shankar. I sort of knew the stereotypes of southern films, that they were big and silly action films, unlike the Hindi romances that I loved. And then moviemavengal/Pardesi saw Bahubaali in theaters and told me I had to watch it. I went to see it, and loved it (of course). From there I watched Mirchi and Bujjigaddu and loved how inventive they were in the fight scenes, it wasn’t just stupid “dishoom dishoom”, there was meta-commentary on the action genre, and clever graceful movements and all kinds of things. Moviemavengal also told me that I HAD to watch Ohm Shaanti Oshaana, Bangalore Days, and Ustaad Hotel, I also loved those. The problem is, Malayalam films are hard to find streaming, and of course DVDs are dying so I couldn’t buy them. My next step was to request every Malayalam film my local library had, which gave me a cross-section of brilliant art films to terrible early 2000s schlock. For Tamil and Telugu, thank goodness, streaming options are a lot better. I watched a bunch of classic Black and White Tamil films through the Rajshri Tamil youtube channel (all free!), and focused on seeing every Mani Ratnam film. And a bunch of Telugu movies through the various legitimate youtube channels. Plus, movies that you all here recommended to me which I bought through sketchy DVD sources or tracked down through sketchy streaming sources.

The funny thing is, I like the southern films, but they still don’t make me feel the same way the Hindi films do. I was thinking it was simply because I found Hindi films first, when I was only 19 before I started thinking so much I couldn’t just feel, but I actually didn’t, I watched Kandukondain Kandukondain the same weekend as DDLJ, they had an equal chance. However it happened, watching Hindi films for me is like sinking into a warm bath, all soothing and natural and cozy, while watching the southern films still feels more like swimming a race, struggling to keep up and stay afloat.

So, that’s my story! What’s your story of finding Indian films? Or suddenly seeing them in a new way? Or finding a new Indian industry than the one you have been watching?

(Remember, if you comment the most this month, you get the poster below! Who wouldn’t want it?)

Image result for shahrukh cuddly dontcallitbollywood
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55 thoughts on “Discussion Post: How Did You First Find/ReFind Indian Film/A Particular Language of Indian Film?

  1. Indian film sort of creeped up on me since loving musicals since forever and liking those from all over the world from French Pop musicals to Austria where the musical scenes are equal to those in England or just London.

    I remember seeing Bride and Prejudice with Aishwarya quite young and liked it, but didn’t leave much of an impression. Then finding that HDDCS was on YouTube and so started falling in love with SLB and Mani Ratnam sort of crept along with A. R. Rahman with the songs in the Tamil sphere and of course Dil Se which I suppose is my DDLJ. First love, though it wasn’t the first film I saw.

    Then it just sort of went in to blogs and analysis things like that and haven’t stopped since. So yeah, nothing much of a big bang like you with Lagaan. Just happened naturally and seemed quite inevitable looking back that Indian film would come soon or later.

    And yeah I understand about the different feel for Hindi and then the southern films. Hindi really seeps in easily form overexposure that you understand the film even though you don’t look at the subtitles, while in any other language film there immediately has to be a concentration while looking at the subtitles and the screen so you don’t miss anything. Then just the research that you can even understand the cultural difference, the lack of books on southern films in english is devastating. The only one I have and can recall is Baradwaj Rangan’s book of conversations with Mani Ratnam, which is very good.

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    • Glad to know I’m not the only one who relates to Hindi films differently than the southern ones. Your point that southern films are harder to understand really resonates with me. Hindi films for various historical reasons were more focused on reaching an All-India audience, and then later a global one, they are just easier to find an entry point. The southern films have all these lovely specific touches which I can appreciate intellectually, but which make it harder for me to appreciate them emotionally.

      Does Austria still have a music scene? Somehow I am stuck back in the Light Operetta era in my head, The Merry Widow and stuff like that which were sometimes authentic and sometimes just Americans imitating Austrian musicals.

      On Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 2:17 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes! Austria has a famous musical scene from world famous (like performed in Japan and Korea) musicals like Elisabeth about the Empress Elisabeth or Sisi’s life – quite dark but ever so good and very much a response to the cookie cutter princess take of the Romy Schneider films from the 50s; Mozart musical and Marie Antoinette musical; some musical home versions of French musicals; then movies in to film remakes from movies like Hichcock’s Rebecca and Polanski’s old vampire comedy film in to a very good hammer musical Tanz Der Vampire.

        You can find recordings in both Spotify and on YouTube are old recordings available, they usually have subtitles.

        Elisabeth is the most famous of them, with performances still going on to this day and Shekhar Kapur is going to make a movie musical about it! So yeah, that’s some unexpected connection there.

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        • My sister did a study abroad in Budapest and Elizabeth was EVERYWHERE. We had never heard of her before from our American version of European history, it was just kings of England, French Revolution, WWI and WWII. And maybe the Inquisition. It was amazing to discover there was this whole heroine of history that we just had no idea about.

          Your description of the Austrian musical scene is fascinating! I can’t believe it hasn’t crossed over more, I would think all someone would have to do is take the thing and translate it to English and make lots and lots of money in American and London. So strange.

          On Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 2:34 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Tanz Der Vampire was translated and did not go very well when it premier in the early 2000s on Broadway so I think that killed any hope of any Austrian musical it being translated to english and going abroad to America.

            There are some good fan made translations and performances of the songs, but I think for something like Elisabeth or any historical and grand musical there needs to be knowledge of it already to understand it. Living in Finland I saw the Romy Schenider versions a couple of times on TV when I was little and since all European countries are sorta connected already with history and just geography then the thing translates better here than it would do in America.

            The same way Hamilton translated better for Brits who have now that going on in the West End, while in central Europe or anywhere else its all quite distant and the history of America isn’t known or of much matter here.

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          • So weird that Hamilton is doing well in England! I guess it makes sense in that they would have some sense of the history, but on the other hand they have a sense of the history because THEY LOST.

            On Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 3:09 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • The usual British self deprecating humour I think is not lost on them. But yeah it’s doing well and its much easier than buying a ticket here and flying over to NY to see it so the Brits are doing us a favour here as well. In any other country the story wouldn’t work.

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          • Elisabeth is this important figure in both Austrian and Hungarian history because she supported Hungary’s independent rule while they were still Austria-Hungary, her and her son Rudolf (also has a musical) was also a part of it while her cousin King Ludwig ii of Bavaria (has 2 musicals about him) is important to Germany and Bavarian’s. Its all family connections and shared history which makes it all work.

            Though I think the international versions – or at least those in Asia – emphasise more the romance than the political. Not sure how a singing hot version of Death or Ter Tod being in love with Elisabeth all Phantom like would go in the US. The musical is very depressing, but has brilliant music and just a quick glance at the Wikipedia fills you already in quite well on what she was like as a woman.

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          • This is fascinating. There’s a theater in Chicago that only does plays/musicals based on history. It’s kind of a fun gimmick and it always surprises me how many productions they are able to put on, obscure plays and musicals they find. But it sounds like in Austrian musical theater, that would just be normal. And it explains why Padmavat was such a hit as a French Opera, if it was more romantic royal history in musical format, just in India.

            I look forward to getting your opinions on the little spat of historicals coming up! How Takht and all the rest do with making history into drama.

            On Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 3:25 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Aw I’m honoured, really. That is one of the reasons I like Indian historic films, from SLB to something like 1947 Earth. India has such a multitude of varying ways of doing history and the songs are a nice add too. Personally, thinking SLB movies already as a kind of musical more than historical helps me to like him.

            As to Austria, I think it’s really just finding people with good stories to tell about and in history there are A LOT of them. Same with Hamilton in a way, but different music and is kinds the norm I suppose in Austria since its very bankable and they have a lot of talented people to make musicals about them.

            There is a former children’s entertainment show channel called Horrible Histories that tackles British history with both clever music and humour and then if you want just full on historical fact checking then History Buffs is a good channel since it covers movies, both on YouTube.

            I am going to see Kalank of the 25th. Stupid Finland times on releasing these films. So I will be late to that conversation, but will contribute!

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  2. I was born in India…so Hindi films have just been an integral part of my life…the T.V. was always on in the living room playing random movies or at the very least film songs…the first movie I saw in a theatre was Hum Aapke Hain Koun…I was five years old and naturally, it sparked a long-lasting love for movies

    I rediscovered Indian cinema when I was 13 and happened to watch Arth. It changed all my impressions of what a movie can/should be…that started a spark and drove me to see all the other art house movies and of course also explore Satyajit Ray, Guru Dutt, etc.

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    • HAHK would be a great movie to watch in theaters at 5. I think I tried to see Little Mermaid when I was 5, and it was far far too scary and I had to spend most of the time in the hallway with my Mom. HAHK has nothing scary for a 5 year old.

      Arth is such an amazing film, a great movie without feeling like it is talking down to the audience, explaining how they should think or feel or “teaching” them anything.

      On Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 2:50 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Even HAHK had its scary bits…in the song, Didi Tera devar..we hated the whole vaccine bit…and of course, the staircase death was traumatizing! We still loved it and watched in on VCR obsessively…just stopped the movie at the Lo Chalie Mein song before it got sad…

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        • I saw it first in college and the staircase death was scary for me even then. The vaccine bit, I have no memory of.

          On Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 3:06 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I have a story about my difficult relationship with tamil films.
    My first indian movie was K3G. I saw it in cinema, and fall in love totally. Not only I, but a lot of people. At that time there was only one place, in internet where we could talk about indian cinema in polish. At the beginning it was great, but later, the people who created that forum wasn’t happy that their passion became something very common. Suddenly everybody knew indian movies, and every woman was in love with SRK.They couldn’t boast about it anymore, so they started watching southern movies (especially tamil), and talking down to us- bollywood watchers. Doing so, they made me dislike tamil films long before I watched my first film in that language.
    Later I started watching telugu movies, because I had a crush on Siddharth, and I absolutely loved Bomarillu. I was watching everything with Sid in telugu, and later I also saw Boys. I hated this movie with all my heart. Than I watched Kandukondain Kandukondain, and I started thinking “Maybe tamil films aren’t that bad”.
    But my next tamil movie was Vaaranam Aayiram, and again I hated it. I know it’s very good movie, and Surya is so good in it, but OMG this plot. I was exhausted when I finished watching it and I said: never again!
    And now confession time, I have never said it, but I wasn’t able to finish Alaipayuthey. I own a dvd, which, as a good Madhavan’s fan, I ordered in India, but I only saw half of the movie, I didn’t like it much , I turned it off, and for 4 or 5 years I haven’t seen any indian movie. It was the last movie I was watching before I quit.

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    • This is a fascinating story! Fandoms are so odd, the way in some places the environment is very much about being welcoming and encouraging growth, and in others it is about being exclusive and small. Fandoms and fads I guess. I’ve seen the same kind of thing with, like, yoga. Once everyone gets into yoga, suddenly some people really have to get into Tai Che and make you feel bad for doing yoga like everyone else. It makes the whole thing feel like an ugly competition instead of something fun.

      Maybe Mani Ratnam just isn’t for you? I know you didn’t like the Peck on the Cheek movie either. Is there a Ratnam film you have liked?

      Oh, and follow up question I have to ask, if you didn’t like Alai Payuthay, what was the Maddy movie that won you over?

      On Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 4:51 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I have many other stories from that old forum. The people who created it, were the most hypocrite people I have met in my life. Think that they were discussing that dvd recorders should be banned because people use them to make illegal copies of movies. But just few days later I saw them exchange BAGS of ripped dvds. Or they were always first to talk about movies released in India just day or two earlier. So where did they watch it?
        There were many other little things, but what made me abandon this toxic community was when they slut-shamed a girl for wearing sexy choli under her sari on one of the bollywood themed parties we were doing. It was a party in Poland, the girl was polish, and they were like: How could you wear something like this? In India women don’t use such clothes. You should be ashamed!

        I have seen only four Mani Ratnam movies: Iruvar, Dil Se, Kaatru Veliyidai and A Peck on the Cheek. I’m glad I saw those movies, they are all great and I learnt a lot, but none of them made me say: wow I’m loving it. I must still watch Mouna Ragam.

        And for Maddy – I think there wasn’t this one movie that won me over. It was more a process. First I saw his shirtless photo from RHDTM, then I saw him in Rang De Basanti, later in something else, and I realized I like him a lot, and should watch more his movies. But I think I like him more as a person, than as a actor.

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        • You are making me grateful again, some more, that I was able to be introduced to Indian movies and Indian fandom through being immersed with a bunch of other teenage girls who happened to be desi. There were no rules or embarrassment or trying to be “better” than someone else, because it wasn’t some special thing, it was just what everyone else liked too. Your group sounds AWFUL. I really hope none of them were the Polish ladies who got to have lunch with Ayushmann Khurrana. Or at least, only the nicest ones.

          On Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 3:10 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I think I’ve told my Hindi film introduction story here before, how I was sick in a hotel in Dhaka and watched Mast Kalandar on repeat in my hotel room tv all day for Shah Rukh Khan, thus becoming the only person in the history of South Asian cinema to come to Hindi movies through Heyy Babyy.

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    • Oops, posted too soon. I was going to say, my Bengali film story is a bit less embarrassing. I got a free trial of the old website Jaman, which had a few Indian movies, and I watched Chokher Bali, directed by Rituparno Ghosh. That is a difficult film to understand, and my Bengali friends hate it because he changed the ending, but I thought it was really beautiful and I liked the fact that it focused on a woman. So then I watched Raincoat, which is a Hindi film but also directed by Ghosh and starring Aishwarya. He was able to get really good performances out of her and I think Raincoat is a career best. (I know he was gender-nonconforming, but after his death his friends seem to still be “he” and “him. He was very open about his sexuality so I think that probably means he was still using masculine pronouns). That led me to other films such as Unishe April. At some point Youtube suggested “Saptapadi,” a major film of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen. Although what attracted me in the modern films was a slow, quiet plot, Saptapadi has a plot crammed full of stuff: inter-community love affair (Hindu and Christian); religious conversion (Hindu atheist to religious Hindu; the Christian just stays Christian), war, alcoholism, heinous parents, and a scene from Othello, acted by Uttam and Suchitra but voiced by Utpal Dutt and Jennifer Kendall. And that grabbed me as well: good acting and a strong, complex female lead that stuff happens to.

      In movies I especially like two completely opposite things: a giant spectacle that will take me out of myself, and a small intimate film that makes me feel like I’m eavesdropping on someone’s life. I MOSTLY get the first from Hindi films and the second from Bengali, but of course there are a lot of exceptions.

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      • How long of a gap was there between finding Hindi films and Bengali? And as of right now, do you have a strong preference between the two or is it still equal?

        On Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 10:51 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • I think it was virtually simultaneous. At first I didn’t realize I was watching films in different languages–I saw DDLJ and Salaam E Ishq and also Chokher Bali and Bombay and one that I don’t remember but I think it was Bengali because it had Raima. And then I was so interested in Chokher Bali that I read about it on Wikipedia and realized it wasn’t Hindi (originally, anyway–I think I may have seen a Hindi dub). And gradually I started reading and being able to distinguish stars and directors, and now I can pretty much distinguish the language, if they talk long enough to say the words I know.

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          • Is the style of film different enough that you can distinguish by that or is it just the language?

            On Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 10:47 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I’m Indian, so I obviously grew up watching Hindi and Kannada (my mother tongue) films. But after 10th grade, I fell in love with Tamil and a few Telugu films. Both these language films were and are popular in Bangalore because we have people from literally all over the country – other South Indians, north Indians, north east Indians, Bengalis, Gujaratis, Rajasthanis etc. And Tamil and Telugu film music were equally popular here. Around 2010, I stopped liking Hindi film music as much as I used to before. And at the same time loved Tamil and Telugu film songs. I also watched the very famous Tamil and Telugu films like Pokiri, Ghajini, Vaaranam Aayiram etc and instantly fell in love. In my summer vacations, I used to literally watch Sun Music (a Tamil music channel) the entire day. And began to understand Tamil and could watch quite a few films without subtitles. Telugu was a bit easier to understand because of the similarity with Kannada. Now I’m more of a Tamil fan. And I absolutely despise most recent Hindi songs.
    I discovered Malayalam cinema very recently, around 4 years ago. I watched Bangalore Days only because I’m from Bangalore and was curious about an outsider’s perspective. I absolutely loved it and also fell in love with Dulquer. Then I watched a lot of Dulquer films – Ustad Hotel, Kali, Charlie etc. I also watched Premam because of the hype and liked it. And then Ohm Shanti Oshana because of all the good reviews. I’m still not an avid watcher of Malayalam films because I need subtitles, and I hate watching a film with subtitles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How interesting! And I have to say, I don’t think I would be able to learn French (for instance) just by watching movies, even if it is very close to English. I am super impressed that you picked up both Tamil and Telugu.

      On Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 12:23 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • I know 0 languages other than my mother tongue. And I’ve had loads of opportunities, they just never stick. Thank goodness I didn’t grow up in Kannada! I would be that dumb kid who always has to ask for help to order street food.

          On Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 10:37 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. Such varied, interesting comments from ditto followers. As for me, I collect and discard obsessions like lint on a sweater. When I wrote a swashbuckling Barbary Coast novel, I immersed myself in the North African/Mediterranean coast. I knew history, shipping routes, desert lore. I studied Arabic and planned a trip to Morocco. Finished the book, never went, lost interest. Next obsession was Korean drama. My cable company added a new channel and off I went. I joined a KDrama chat group, spent literally days in this city’s Koreatown, and published a longish short story about a woman who gets so wrapped up in the TV dramas, she ruins her life. Naturally, I studied the language and panned a trip to Seoul. Never got there. The channel disappeared and other bad things started to happen. (There’s more about that in an article I wrote for Little India Magazine.) In a funk, I moped in front of the television and channel-hopped to Chak De India and Shah Rukh Khan. Instantly hooked, I devoured everything Indian cinema, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Malayalam…all of it all at once. I follow Hungama, joined my first and only blog, study Hindi, am writing a Bollywood-themed novel, and plan a trip. Might even go. This particular obsession has been the most enduring. I can’t imagine an evening without one or two films or a morning without DCIB.

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    • I am going to go ahead and take a little bit of credit for your fandom lasting longer this time around. That’s what I want, to encourage people to take the movies seriously and go a little further into them, and to enjoy them more and more.

      Also, I am so impressed with how many times you’ve been published! I’ve only managed it once for a book, and twice for articles. You must be much better than I am at working with editors.

      On Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 6:43 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I would guess it was around 2007 or 2008 when there was a Zumba class I took regularly at the gym. There was one song that I just looooooved. I googled the few words I could make out and found the music video on YouTube. It was “Maahi Ve” from a movie called Kal Ho Naa Ho. I was completely entranced by the video, even though all I could really piece together was that apparently two of the main characters were getting married, and one of the characters was reeeeeaaaally hot. (Guess who that was?)

    This was before I had Netflix or Amazon and I was pretty sure I would never have a chance to see this movie. I would forget about the song and then once a year or so remember it and watch the video, falling in love all over again.

    In Fall of 2018 I remembered this song and had also found videos for “Pretty Woman” from the same movie, starring “that really cute guy”. I was showing the videos to my mom and fiance who suggested I see if the movie was on Amazon. IT WAS!

    I went home that night and watched it and have been absolutely fanatical ever since. That weekend my partner was out of town and so I watched 5 Hindi movies in 2 days. KHNH was my first and that movie touched me so deeply on so many levels that I could not get enough. My fiance` now has to put up with the fact that in my heart Shah Rukh Khan is my other love, but he’s very good-natured about it.

    I am so grateful for that Zumba teacher using that song (it’s still one of my favorites) over a decade ago and that I remembered it all these years later.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am almost jealous! Being able to watch Kal Ho Na Ho, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, all the classics in one weekend sounds heavenly.

      And welcome! Both to DCIB, and to Indian film fandom. I hope you stick around in both 🙂

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      • I plan to be around for a long time. There are so many amazing films to catch up on and so much to learn. I just read your book last week and am already having such fun spotting/remembering pieces of cultural context in the movies (like that scene with the bangles just before Suraj Hua Maddam in K3G)!

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  8. Being Indian from the pre cable TV era, I got to see many Hindi movies on Doordharshan (the only channel back then) before I understood Hindi, Also since there was no other choice, everyone in the house would sit together and watch (nobody knew Hindi, but I don’t remember anyone complaining they did not understand the story). The movie I remember properly is “GUMNAM”, I could sing a few songs from that movie after having watched it only once. I really started understanding Hindi and watching it much later using VCD’s on a desktop computer.. and I distinctly remember watching Andaz Apna Apna in a cramped hostel room in North India, and loved the movie. I remembered watching the songs from the movie on “Superhit Muqabla” many years earlier though.
    Tamil movies: Apoorva Sahodhargal of Kamal Hassan(in Hindi its called Appu Raja) was the start, then years later Soodhu Kaavum of Vijay Sethupathy was the restart in my love affair with Tamil Movies.
    Malayalam: As a kid I always felt Malayalam movies were Super boring, always family dramas. Then I saw Manichitrathazh and started following Malayalam movies, later with the introduction of internet to my life, I really started watching really funny Malayalam movies that deal with social situations that malayalees can relate to… Sandesham, I would say is the reintroduction. I saw parts of it last month also, when I could not decide on what to do one sunday afternoon.

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    • Fascinating that you saw and understood Hindi movies despite not growing up in the Hindi belt. This has long been my theory, that Hindi films developed slightly differently from other language industries because they were aiming at reach a cross-language audience. Stories were less subtle, more information was conveyed in a non-verbal manner. It’s also (I theorize) why they reach the non-Indian audience so much more easily, since they are already designed for people who do not speak the language, whether it is English speakers watching Hindi films or Tamil speakers watching Hindi films.

      And you made me curious to see Sandesham!

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      • As you said, I agree maybe the movies were made with easily understood storylines, with the songs at every possible turn to make the viewers understand the story a little better. The movies were all very lengthy with atleast 6 or more songs, so they had enough time to get the point across.

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  9. I grew up on a diet of Malayalam cinema watching so many films from the ’80s and ’90s growing up even though I’m a early 2000s baby. My family has always exclusively watched Malayalam movies even though my mom had spent a few years in Delhi and spoke decent Hindi. My very first Bollywood movie was Taal and I watched with my mom as she recalled seeing it in theatre as a young girl. It wasn’t like I instantly fell in love with Hindi movies, but the soundtrack had me hooked and I went back to the song “Taal Se Taal Mila” to perform at my school’s Asian Pacific Heritage Assembly. Growing up in America, it was really this school program that motivated to watch Hindi movies as my school had a significant Bangladeshi population and most of them grew up on Bollywood movies (and were shocked I didn’t do the same as an Indian girl). Over the past few years, I’ve watched dozens of Bollywood movies and also explored Tamil cinema more. I think that Bollywood movies are definetely marketed for a more global population and are easier to relate to for many foreign viewers. I recommended Bangalore Days to a friend because I thought it was a good movie for beginners to Mollywood. I was really disappointed when she said she didn’t enjoy the film because it was too “slow” and frankly boring. But then I remembered that I had felt the same about the movie on my first watch, but went on to love it after viewing it again and seeing all the details and development I had missed on the first watch. I haven’t really gotten into Telegu cinema beyond seeing the Baahubali movies and some Arya films so maybe I will try that as well! I think South Indian cinema is highly underappreciated in the country as a whole and really needs to market itself better because everyone thinks of Indian cinema as just Bollywood. By the way, I love your blog and read it regularly! I’ve commented before, but I feel like it never went through

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    • I’m so glad your comment went through this time! It’s a lovely one. Although it also makes me feel a wee bit old, because I think I am probably about the same age as your Mom, maybe a little younger.

      Have you heard of the reviewer Roger Ebert? Taal was his first Hindi movie too. He wrote about going to the theater with a desi friend who was able to predict the entire second half of the plot at the intermission, and loving it. So you are in very good company! I would say you are even better than Ebert, because you tried to go beyond Taal and watch more films from many different languages.

      And I am so glad your comment went through this time! I hope you keep commenting.

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  10. Late to the conversation but I am watching Annmariya Kalippilannu, starring the little girl who played Young Sonam in ELKDTAL, and it’s wonderful! This is the first Malayalam film I’m enjoying. I tried Bangalore Days but just couldn’t get into it (I know I’m in the minority on that). I hope that little girl goes on to have an amazing adult career.

    I appreciated the conversation above though about how much harder it is to access southern Indian films compared with Hindi films. I think part of it is the Hindi acting style is very broad. I tried watching the Tamil film 96 and the first half hour was all quiet beautiful shots then followed by lengthy exposition on the lead’s backstory and I couldn’t deal.

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    • I love that movie! The Annmariya one I mean. 96 and I have issues.

      My theory is that Malayalam films are more like novels while Hindi films are more like thrillers. The Malayalam stories go internal and deep and complex, you really have to focus and give it time to build up. But the Hindi movies are just Bang Bang Bang Bang, everything right in front of you. Although there are some Malayalam movies that are kind of a mixture. Check out Ohm Shaanthi Oshaana some time, very straight forward happy story, kind of like Annmariya in that it is a spunky young woman who controls her destiny and sets things in motion.

      On Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 11:59 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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    • You are not in the minority. I don’t feel like Bangalore Days is the best first watch even though I love the film (and made the mistake of recommending it as an intro for a Bengali friend) because it’s difficult to appreciate the pace of it. I recommend Usthad Hotel (although it portrays white women stereotypically), Take Off, Drishyam, and maybe Mumbai Police.

      Like

  11. Om Shanti Om was my first actual “Bollywood” movie, and that was in February of 2019. I am one of those people who has to understand everything about everything, and I can’t rest until I do. Yikes! Worst movie ever to start with under those circumstances!! So many references to people and places and events and inside jokes!
    I have now seen every SRK movie (minus a couple hard to track down ones), including a few that I’ve seen 3+ times, and most of the films he cameos in. I have watched innumerable interviews and reviews, read countless articles, tracked down gossip and all the big relevant participants in said gossip, read your book and blog, read Anupama’s book, and generally followed the rabbit down the black hole that is Hindi film and its surrounding culture. Oh, and I am well on my way to learning Devanagaari and Hindi because I hate needing subtitles and I’m thorough like that.
    My kids think I’m crazy, but they know me, so they’re not surprised.
    Oh, and if you’re wondering what kind of person has the time for watching 100+ 3 hour long movies in 3 months and all this in-depth research, well, me. Of my 6 kids, only my twins are still at home and they only have a year left of high school. My formerly ultra-busy life came to a screeching halt when I was struck down with an extremely rare – like one in a million people rare – neurological illness that makes functioning like a normal human being impossible. So, here I am, living like an abnormal human being, and being truly grateful to have found so much color and happiness and masala and Shah Rukh freaking Kahn on the TV in my family room. Who would have guessed that Bollywood films and one strangely magnetic actor could lift me a bit out of a depression so deep I didn’t think I’d be here in April??
    Oh, and as a bonus, now I can say and write things like : पीटर, जुलिया एक गाय नहीं है । “Peter, Julia is not a cow” in 2 languages.
    And it’s all thanks to SRK, Farah Kahn, and Om Shanti Om.

    Like

    • I found your comment! Yaaaay! It got stuck in spam filter limbo for a while, but I finally found it.

      Thank you for mentioning how hard OSO was! I am constantly fighting with my friends about showing it to newbies. They love it and want to show it to their friends right away, but I resist because it is just no good without knowing more.

      I am so impressed that you are attempting the language! It is the one glaring gap in my knowledge base, mostly because I am just terrible at languages. I’ve got a decent vocabulary and can basically follow the dialogue without subtitles, but I can’t read or write it or speak it for sure.

      We’ve got a couple of other commentators here who found the films in similarly horrific periods in their life. And a whole bunch of people who just like the movies without needing a terrible time in their life to bring them in. I did my Masters’ thesis on non-Indian fans of Indian film, and my conclusion was that it is the emotions which draw people in. The films are focused on grabbing you by the heart and dragging you into the story before your head has a chance to catch up. It makes them easy to crossover to audiences from other cultures, and it also makes them something that can pull you out of yourself and give you an escape no matter what is happening in your life.

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      • Yup, the Indian films just do emotion way better than Hollywood. The US is very similar to Germany in a lot of ways – we are results-oriented and miss the journey part of falling in love.

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    • What a story! Thank you for sharing!

      I agree about Om Shanti Om as well. I saw it fairly early in my journey but I had seen just enough movies to sort of get the sense that it was poking fun at its own industry, even if some of the specific jokes went over my head. I think I definitely need to re-watch it now that I’ve got a few more under my belt though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have to keep going back to re-watch movies once I suspect I’ve missed something significant. I put on movies I’ve already seen when I study Hindi so i don’t have to pay too much attention. (JHMS is generally my go-to because who needs words for that one??) It was only with Chennai Express in the background that I realized I recognised ALL of the songs SRK and Deepika use to speak to each other in Hindi! If I hadn’t seen every movie, I might never have known. Now I can happily associate Chammak Challo with south India and coconut knives!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes! Chennai Express was great for that and I’m so glad I only watched that one recently. It was so fun catching all the songs they were quoting at each other and chuckling.

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        • Mujshe Dosti Karoge has the Baap Ki reference song. I know all the songs now, but I still haven’t seen all the movies. Now that you have climbed the Chennai Express mountain, you should make that your next challenge.

          On Tue, Apr 30, 2019 at 10:38 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

          Liked by 1 person

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