Sunday, June 20, 2010

Namak's Irreverent (and Irrelevant) Answers to Her Own Newbie Questions

After having seen a few Indian movies, Namak has finally figured out a few things, which she was wondering about when she started watching these films.

Why all the wardrobe changes in songs? 
See, because a lot of times the character requires a certain look during the movie, and how is she/he supposed to show off their good looks and toned abs without the opportunity to change into a few more revealing outfits, eh? Regardless of the topic of the movie or the overall look, the songs are generally the part where glamour reigns supreme, therefore giving us the opportunity to enjoy some glitter and colour even in an otherwise more... earthly looking movie. 

Why do they dance in movies to begin with? 
I could give you the real answer about how music, and implicitly dance, is so much more a part of the Indian culture than it is in any Western culture, but... I won't. 
Instead, my take on it is that as far as the movie industries down South are concerned, the answer is simple: because they CAN! Enough said. Hats off to MinaiMinai for providing this excellent summary of everything that we love about dancing in Southie movies... even if Allu Arjun was mercilessly removed from the competition (I like to think it's because he would have put all the other guys to shame).

It's slightly more complicated up North in Bollywood, because the reality is a lot of them... can't. So why subject themselves and us to the torture? Well, we're glad to point out that they have finally realized that and have cut down substantially on the dancing, at the risk of losing some of the good stuff in the process. Sadly this also means that some of the truly good dancers are not required to dance anymore: yes, Ranbir Kapoor, I am looking right at you! 
You want good dancing? Just watch Tollywood. Um... Or Chance Pe Dance.  

Why are all the movies love stories? 
This was a tough one. The first answer that comes to mind is, of course, they're not all love stories. But even when they're not, one must admit there is almost always a love story component, and even some movies with no romance manage to somehow get acted out as a love story (Chak De India comes to mind: hockey might as well be Shah Rukh's love interest considering how he talks about it). Beyond the obvious and politically incorrect answer: Indian people, male or female, all love a good over the top love story because they're all huge saps, the best answer we could come up with was: love is the spice of life, it can't be done without lest we end up with a bland dish. So, as much as it pains me to say this: if you really are allergic to love stories, good or bad, maybe Indian movies are not for you.

Having said that, for those interested, Dolce and Namak can further elaborate on a short list of films that are not love stories and, in fact, don't even have a love story component: A Wednesday, Taare Zameen Par, Manorama Six Feet Under, The Blue Umbrella, Tahaan, Amal (ok, a little love story, but very brief, and fine, I know it doesn't technically count as an Indian movie, get off my case!), Chameli, to name only the most obvious that come to mind. In the South, the most recent one I've seen that didn't have any real love stories was Vedam.

Last but not least it's entirely arguable that Telugu masala movies are in fact love stories. A lot of what Namak and Dolce have been watching could not really pass as a love story in the real world: girl chases boy who is trying very hard to peel girl off him because he has more important things to do (such as fight legions of goondas/rowdies and bring justice back to the city), and finally gives in at the end of the movie, after some fantasy songs with them romancing in the rain. Or the alternative: boy is all over girl like a dirty shirt, with girl spending 90% of the movie trying to get away from him only to realize at the end that she loved him all along. Pretty sure that would not fly as a love story anywhere outside the filmi world.  

What's up with all the crying? 
Another tough one... This goes with the more emotional, and also more physical side of acting in Indian movies which will probably get its own blog rant some day. In short, one has to understand Indian movies come with their own style: acting, filming, communicating information. You either get to like it or you don't. Communicating through song is one of these conventions. Displaying emotional reactions without a filter is another. Besides, where would all the world's reserves of glycerine and atropine go, now that politicians are not bothering to show off their sensitive side anymore, and are more preoccupied with throwing dirt at each other during campaigns?

Will you say this answer also applies to overacting?
Please, I prefer to refer to it as theatre-style acting. And since the phrasing of your question just made it uncool to give a similar answer as above, despite the fact that it would probably be the correct one, I will instead rejoice in the very physical, tangible way of acting in Indian movies because it is the only thing that permits me to follow un-subtitled South Indian movies that Dolce drags me to see in theatres. If everything was subtle and the director relied on quirky phrases rather than on an actor's face to communicate the message, we'd both be sitting at home biting our nails and waiting for the DVD.


Nicki said...

Hahaha, what great answers to all newbies questions!

I remember some Hmong guys telling me that they didn't want to watch Indian movies because too much boring love stories. I gave them No Smoking, Karam, Taare Zameen Par....they shut up since then :D

Dolce and Namak said...

Oh, that's ballsy, Nicki! If I ever gave TZP to my friends they would probably rip it apart for being so emotionally intense, but then my guy friends can be real jerks, so that's perhaps the reason why they'll forever miss out on all this good stuff. I'll let them stick to Dhoom 2 and Tashan for now :P

And you reminded me for the millionth time that I have to find the time to watch No Smoking.. sigh... so little time...

prahajess said...

I almost forced my brother to watch TZP, because he's a teacher, but it didn't work.
I think one of my friends' husbands enjoyed HDDCS, but she always refers to him as "emotionally, a woman", so that probably doesn't count. Oh, and once my friend's boyfriend came and watched the second half of Athadu; later she told me he thought it was too "romantic." Go figure. Boys are pretty dumb.

Dolce and Namak said...

I have one up on you, Jess! My boyfriend commented that Kaminey was too romantic!!! KAMINEY!! LOL What does it have: one scene between Shahid and Priyanka? After that I decided to not argue anymore... :)

So nice to see you here, by the way! Glad you made it! :D

Gauri Radha गौरी राधा said...

New Person: "They're all just love stories over and over."

Me: "That's my favourite kind of story in the world."

New Person: "And they're constantly breaking out into song and dance."

Me: "Yea, I'm obsessed with Bollywood dance so that's also perfect in my book."

Dolce, I've had actual conversations like this! I adore dance and I especially adore love stories, so I have zero complaints when these issues come up.

Inside I'm always thinking: Dance and romance, what more do these people want?!! Hahaha.

Plus they can have OTT violence if they want in SI masala.

Dancing, loving, fighting--there is nothing more cinematic is there?

Dolce and Namak said...

LOL I'll admit I don't even like love stories much myself. But I suppose I've accepted them as a necessary evil if I want to get to everything else I love about Indian movies. And some have even grown on me. But I am happy to see that there are other kinds of stories coming out of India these days... I just wish people would know about them and get over the dancing around trees preconception...

Sigh... dhiire dhiire... ho jayega...

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