Well, Tiger has begun to drop off significantly. Which means now is the week when we can start comparing it with other overseas hits and see how good it really did, removed from all the hysteria of the “finally a big box office hit in 2017!” coverage.
I put up a version of this post a couple of days ago, but then we all spitballed back and forth in the comments and ended up coming up with a few changes. So this is the New Improved Better version of the post (original version, you can still view here). This is to help sort of orient you to Indian film history. A big accepted “classic” from each decade that will help you understand how the industry grew and changed. I don’t promise that you will be able to find and watch each of them (the website indiancine.ma is a fantastic resource you might want to try), but you should at least be familiar with the titles of these films and what they meant.
I think Chetan has earned his birthday post on my film blog, don’t you? He’s about to have his 4th big budget big deal movie made off of one of his books. And according to his wikipedia, he wrote the screenplay for Kick (although that’s a remake, so I don’t know how much there was to writing the screenplay, probably just putting in some Hindi dialogue). But he isn’t a “real” film person, so I am not going to do a full 43 reasons, just leave it at a dozen.
Happy Aamir Week Day 2! 3 Idiots! One of those movies that I have been avoiding because there is so much to say it overwhelms me. But no more! I’m not going to worry about saying everything, I am just going to say a little bit about one aspect.
I’m mourning today, like can’t stop crying, can’t find anything good in the world mourning. I was trying to think of the last time I felt like this, I think it was when my grandmother was dying, my grandfather had just died, my father was worried about losing his job, and my mother was recovering from major surgery (yes these things all happened at the same time). That was years ago, and the small piece of comfort I have today is that at least I have something that does bring me spiritual comfort, which I didn’t have then.
How could I not celebrate! So very many Indian engineer characters! And all of them, so adorable!
I half considered doing a “serious” post for this day, people who taught me about Indian film, but then it just would have been a dozen SRK songs, and that’s not fair to the non-SRK people! So instead I’ll do teachers in general, and only half SRK songs.
And, as always, if there is a song you like that matches the theme, just mention it in the comments!
Happy Doctor’s Day! Which I only know about from Amitabh’s twitter. Which is true of so many things, Amitabh really does tweet about everything.
Notice how I put the really exciting picture at the top so we would remember why this really matters?
So, currently, the highest Shahrukh movie on the all time gross list for India is number 5. NUMBER 5!!! The shame of it! Ahead of him is PK, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Bahubali, and Dhoom 3. The whole list is here on wikipedia.
Now, you know what all these films have in common? They are all from the past 5 years. And the film at the top is usually from within the past 2 years. In America, we are used to that, the top grossers are always fairly recent, but in India that wasn’t always the case. Mother India set a box office record in 1957 that stayed in place for 3 years until Mughal-E-Azam surpassed it in 1960. Mughal-E-Azam held the record until Sholay beat it in 1975. Sholay held the record until Hum Aapke Hain Koun came along in 1994. Hum Aapke Hain Koun was toppled quickly by DDLJ in 1995. Then DDLJ lost it’s crown to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in 1998. That record held until 2001 when it was beaten by both Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and Gadar: Ek Prem Katha. Gadar held the record until 3 Idiots in 2009, at which point everyone breathed a sigh of release because they could start pretending Gadar never happened (very very problematic messages in that film). And then 3 Idiots held the record for a long time, by a big big margin, until it was finally beaten by Chennai Express in 2013. All Shahrukh fans cheered and celebrated and laughed in the faces of their Aamir-fan friends, or at least that’s what I did. Truly, it was a magical time!
(Shahrukh, take a bow! You earned it!)
And then about 2 months later, Dhoom 3 came out and Aamir was on top again. It stayed up there for a year, until PK came out, and then Aamir had the two top spots. PK is still up there, but Bajrangi Bhaijaan did really well this summer and came close to beating it. And Bahubali, of course, is a huge deal since it is the only non-Hindi film up there (although it was distributed by a Bombay based production house, Dharma, which is very important in terms of overseas awareness and national reach in India).
So, on the micro-level, this just means we all need to buy as many tickets for Dilwale as humanly possible in order to return Shahrukh to his rightful ranking. I don’t care if you are actually seeing Star Wars, you buy your ticket for Dilwale!!!
But on a macro-level, in terms of global trends, economics, and the future of the industry, what does all of this mean and where does it come from?
Yaaaaay! New Dilwale trailer, with a song I actually like!
We have all the classic Shahrukh faces, “I am stunned by your beauty”, “I am delighted by falling in love”, “I am feeling cocky because I know you like me”, and of course “you forgot I was sexy” (my favorite).
Plus, visually (even beyond the wet white shirt), there is all sorts of cool stuff! Did you catch the Shree 420 reference? Not only are they together under an umbrella in the rain, they actually turn into black and white as their eyes meet, which is just so cool and beautiful!
Like, as they fall in love again, they enter the magical other world of classic Indian film love stories. Plus, I love that this is the second time SRKajol has done “Pyar Hua Ikrar Hua”, which is a fairly strong acknowledgement that they are the new Raj Kapoor-Nargis.
The first time was in the homage to the history of Indian film song from Rab Ne Bana di Jodi, “Phir Milenge”. I saw Rab Ne in theaters, and in that whole cameo filled song, Kajol was the only who got cheers.
Anyway, homages to classic films are very tricky to pull off, you either do them as complete jokes and no one cares, or seriously, and then you get a lot of push back because people find it insulting to the original. Especially the children and grandchildren of the people who made the original, who may not be thrilled to see their legacy dragged through the mud (Ram Gopal Verma and your Sholay remake, I am looking at you!). If you recall, the other big Shree 420 homage in recent years was in the “Zoobi Doobi” song from 3 Idiots
But everyone was fine with that, because they actually cast Kareena Kapoor, Raj Kapoor’s granddaughter, in the Nargis part.
But SRKajol have now done Shree 420 twice, and gotten no blowback for it! So I think it is safe to say that they are the acknowledged spiritual heirs to the Raj and Nargis onscreen pairing. Even more than Raj and Nargis’ actual heirs. But hopefully with less offscreen drama.