Aw, Doris Day died. I watched so many of her movies, and listened to so many of her songs when I was young. She is Hollywood, not Indian, but I feel like in many ways in spirit she was part of Indian films.
I’ll start with the most obvious connection. Prabhudeva (as is common) was doing more of a tribute to Gene Kelly than Doris Day in this song, reimagining the “Get Happy” number from Summer Stock. But the song he chose also gave us a little nod towards Doris.
I have to admit that, when we were children, my big sister decided we didn’t like Doris Day movies. She was right, seeing That Touch of Mink at age 8 when we were going through every Cary Grant movie was very disturbing. So we avoided all the early 60s Doris Day movies, the “sex farces” that were somehow all about sex and yet not sexy. And then my sister went to college and I rebelled by watching every Doris Day movie available at my library, or any library in America (thank you interlibrary loan). Being a mature person, the un-sexy sex farces were less disturbing. But much more fun were the early Doris Day movies, the silly actually sexy farces from her early career. And the later movies when she played the strong motherly type.
That’s what makes me think of her with Indian films, the way her female persona shifted depending on audience tastes. In the same way that Madhuri went from young innocent, to sexy item dancer, to virtuous mother, so did Doris. Only she went backwards, there’s a famous Oscar Levant quote “I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin”. It’s not a slam at Doris herself, not at all, but rather at how American’s morality changed over the years. Doris started as a peppy fun girl next door, in an era when the girl next door could have a job, go on dates, be aggressive and go after her man. And then American society shifted and suddenly if she wanted to stay the “good” girl, she had to be suddenly virginal and unapproachable and only interested in marriage.
I like her best as that first style, the fun confident cheerful heroine who goes after the man she wants. This is my favorite song of hers, from April in Paris (It reminds me of “Engine Ki Seeti from Khoobsurat with a similar confident female agent of chaos):
There’s a few other Doris connections in Indian film. Her movie Lucky Me has a similar plot to Kismat Konnection. And Shaadi Se Pehli is a remake of her Send Me No Flowers. I am sure there are other little nods I don’t know about.
That’s all I have on Doris Day. Let me know what your favorite Doris movie is, what you would like to see remade in India, what song of hers you like, anything else you want to talk about.