Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Band Baaja Baaraat and other fluff

It seems that whenever I write about Bollywood around here, it ends up being about serious, artsy films. Which makes sense since they are pretty much my favourite genre. But Bollywood is also all about crowd-pleasing, and lest I give the impression I am that hard to please (even though I am), perhaps it's time to talk about one of the fluff-balls too, for a change, and postpone my review of Traffic Signal for another less snowy day.

First of all, thank you Jyothi, Swati and everyone else who was on my case about watching Band Baaja Baarat! I had high expectations for it, and surprisingly it didn't fail me.

Bollywood seems to make only one perfect ball of glittery fluff every year, at least for my tastes. In 2007 it was Salaam-e-Ishq. In 2008 it was Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. 2009 gave me Dil Bole Hadippa. And now Band Baaja Baarat in 2010. Hm... most of them Yash Raj Films. Honourable mention to Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, but since it doesn't tick all the boxes, I'll leave it out for now. Why am I not including other rom-coms like Jab We Met Wake Up Sid and Love Aaj Kal? Because for me there is a huge difference between a good rom-com and a ball of fluff, even though I truly appreciate both. A ball of fluff will give me great colours, fun songs, good looking people in the lead, one (or several) very improbable love stories, and not much else. But the "not much else" is completely irrelevant because a successful ball of fluff will make me grin happily from ear to ear for no good reason at all. Will I think about the characters or analyse the situations to catch the more subtle meanings of the events? Nope. Will I rave about the eloquence or sharpness of the script? Nope. Am I meant to? Nope. Good, then everyone is happy!

So what does it take to create the perfect glittery ball of fluff? By the way, someone elbow me when you get tired of this expression, because I have plenty of other metaphors I can use, though I am trying really hard to stay away from words like cotton-candy, bubble-gum and other pink objects typically used to describe this type of film.

But back to the original question: What does it take? Surprisingly, all it takes is some basic science!

Newton's Prism

First of all it takes at least two good looking actors who look great in traditional clothes. Not just traditional clothes, like in Jab We Met, but in the kind of clothes that would make the rainbow hide in shame! The more colourful the better. No respectable fluff ball will ever roll without its unique gang of fashion designers and set designers that can mix hot pink, bright yellow, shaadi red, satin baby blue and every other shade of the spectrum in its brightest form and still make it look good. Proof:

Obviously the more "Yash Raj Films" we have in the mix, the brighter the colours become. Yash Raj is like Newton's prism: whatever comes in is dull and colourless, and out it comes as a rainbow!

Auditory Cortex Stimulents

I find all the studies about what makes a song catchy fascinating, and this type of research seems to be in its infancy, but Bollywood nails it so well that they must have gotten a head start in it. A good beat, plenty of repetition, easy lyrics to sing along to, and there you have it! Every fluff ball movie has at least one song that will outlast all your braincells: Saiyyan Re, Salaam-e-Ishq, Haule Haule, Dil Bole Hadippa, Diskowale Kisko, and now Ainvayi Ainvayi:


Well, not really puppies per se, but moments that feel like you're looking a picture of cute puppies playing with each other. I think I read a study at one point about why women are more inclined to be attracted to soft squishy stuff, but I promptly forgot it. I do know for sure that there is a science to that too, and these kinds of movies speak to exactly the same areas of the brain as white kittens, big eyed stuffed animals and, I guess for some people, human babies. We're not supposed to think about the selfishness of one character or about how plausible the future of another one is, and how could we when they stare at us with those sweet smiles, beautiful eyes and their hearts glued to the screen! A proper fluff-ball has to activate our hearts and deactivate our brains as efficiently as a picture of cute puppies, or else, it will not work. Because once we get down to actually thinking about the situations and the characters... but no, I won't do it. Why ruin some perfectly satisfying films for myself!

Come on, use your brain, I dare you!

But really what it all comes down to : Fluff!! Loads and loads, truckloads full of fluff!

What do I call fluff? Well pretty much everything that doesn't add anything to the story but distracts you in such a way that you would never want to do without it: busy sets, bubbly friends, payal sounds, crowds of people, improbable but funny situations, in short a party-like atmosphere. You know which parties I'm talking about: the ones where you spend all night chatting and the next day you only remember having had a great time, but none of the actual conversations. Or does that only happen to me? At any rate, Band Baaja Baarat, Dil Bole Hadippa and the like are exactly like one of these parties to me: no lasting substance but a great feeling at the end, and for sure I could not do without them in my life!

A good story too, you say? Nah... a decently told classic story is more than enough. Not like I'll be talking about the plot when I try to sell the movie to my friends, it is after all... another love story: hate each other, love each other, too proud to do something, too in love to do something else, tears, smiles, flirt, fights... a love story, enough said.

Still smiling when I think about Band Baaja Baarat, by the way!...
Now who will get this title song out of my head, please? I've been singing it all day, I think my neighbours are considering selling their place or at least selling their ear drums!


Anonymous said...

To be fair, it is so easy to get this wrong, as so, SO, SOOOO many films did over the last couple of years! (Dil Bole Hadippa doesnt make my list).

Having said that, I actually had a great time watching the film because it was not pretentious, the dialogues were brilliant, and then the line "main chai main dooba bis-kut hogaya"

Jyothi said...

YAY! You liked it! But awww, you've coupled it with some of my least fav movies of the last two years - Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and DIl Bole Hadippa! In fact, what i like best about BBB was that it bridged that distance between a rom-com and "ball of fluff"- It had a good script, relatable characters and moments/situations/scenes that stayed on long after you'd finished the movie, along with all the fun and fanfare of a typical cotton-candy flick!

On a completely unrelated note, I FINALLY saw Dhobi Ghat today, which i'd been waiting to watch ever since i read your stellar blog post on the film, and i LOVED it! Went back to read your review again after watching the movie, and now i can objectively saw, its the best review ever! Wish i could write as well about movies i love as you do!

dustdevil liz said...

I've heard so many good things about this, and I was looking forward to seeing it, but I think your description of "the kind of clothes that would make the rainbow hide in shame!" has pushed me to order it immediately. Can't wait!

Mette said...

What a great description: "glittery fluff ball"... I'll remember it!

I put this movie on my birthday wish list, even before I read the review, because everyone was just loving it.

There's just one thing I don't agree with: I loved Wake Up Sid and Jab We Met (mostly WUS), but I hated Love Aaj Kal.

Bollywood said...
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Dolce and Namak said...

Awww... no love for Hadippa from anyone, eh? All right, I'll just sit in my lonely corner of Hadippa fans and listen to Ishq Hi Hai Rab... :)

@ dishoomdishoom (so in love with your screenname, by the way!) - Ha! I loved that line too! In fact I loved all of Ranveer's accent and his funny way of messing up words! But my favourite "chai" line of the year is still the one from Man Lafanga: "teri hi baaton se pighalta hai/ chai mein cheeni jaise ghulta hai". Soooo cheesy, I love it! :)

@ Jyothi - woo-hoo!! You liked Dhobi Ghat!!! Yay! Your words made me feel all fuzzy inside! :D I was wondering if anyone would go back to that review after seeing the movie to give me their opinion on it, so thank you! It means a lot to know you liked it even after!

Now re: BBB: I'm curious why you found it to be halfway between the two "genres". For me I guess what makes the distinction, what makes me appreciate a good rom-com is how the story affect the characters. JWM, WUS and the like are films where you meet a set of characters in the beginning and you watch them grow and change through the story. That to me makes a good story. The fluffy stuff is fun to watch, but the only thing that changes over the 2-3 hours of the film is the fact that they realize they're in love. Which is great fun, but not memorable enough for me. I hope this makes sense, but I'd love to hear your take on how to meet halfway on the way from one to the other!

Dolce and Namak said...

@ Liz: bwahahaaa!!! Prepare for the retina replacement, I will not be responsible for it! :P Ok, just kidding, but really, I don't think you'll regret it, BBB is great fun! And the songs, THE SONGS!!!... :D

@ Lime(tte): LAK is a hard one to explain, I think Imtiaz Ali had a really tough act to follow after JWM, and he didn't exactly make the greatest casting decision with Saif. But that said, it was a story that went well with me, barring a couple of silly plot-twists. I know it's not well loved, but for me no one beats Imtiaz Ali when it comes to telling a good romantic story and getting me involved with the characters, no matter who the characters are. I always appreciate that he manages to stay away from tearjerking melodrama which I am highly allergic to, he tells his stories very matter of factly, and that is exactly my kind of story. I suppose it's a matter of taste, he just really clicks with me.

Dolce and Namak said...

@ The Bollywood Fan: Oh no, what have I done! LOL! Don't worry, there is plenty to enjoy in BBB even if it's not the most... memorable story. And from what I know about you, you have a much higher tolerance than me for this type of story *cough I Hate Luv Storys cough*. So I think you'll be fine. I suspect the reason why so many people hated DBH and APKGK was because they're so glam (or they try to be) and they promoted the living daylights out of them, but this one dodged all that. It's a good mix, really, try it. If nothing else, you'll gain new appreciation for Anushka (whoa, how she DANCES!!), and you'll definitely have on your list another young dude to keep an eye out for in the future. I'm not in luuuv with Ranveer (yet) but I was definitely impressed! :D

Bollywood said...
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Jyothi said...

Hmmm... from your point of view, BBB does feel like the perfect ball of fluff! i guess what i take for balls of fluff are movies like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi that have all the colors, dhol-baaja and naach-gaana but where the plot usually is over-the-top, the script super -melodramatic and the story is such that it requires some serious suspension of disbelief to sit through the movie ( like, WHICH wife who not be able to recongnise her husband after a mere makeover!)However, in BBB's case, each of the characters were well etched-out, dialogues were unpretentious and real, and except for the climax, there was not a single scene that made me go "meh! whatever!" (Sort of like Wake Up Sid, which, to me, is the best rom-com to come out in the last couple of years!)so, thats what i meant when i said it bridged the gap between the two.. :)
Phew! there!i promise not to hog more comment space in this post again! ;)

Kaitlyn said...

I love fluffy movies and I can't wait to see BBB.

RE: puppies, in the song "Niluvutaddam" in NVND (after they realize they're in love), there's a moment when Sid is holding two puppies for no reason besides shutting off your brain. NVND's not completely fluffy, since Santosh grows as a character, I guess. Plus the obligatory fight at the end.

Remini said...

Nah, BBB didn't work for me AT ALL (sorry for the big letters, just felt like shouting it). I love fluff movies where you don't have to think about anything much, but I expect the leads to be at leas likeable. The first half went by nice enough, but the rest was so so messed up. Couldn't shut my brain off, wasn't entertained, the guy started overacting, Anushka is still all limbs and not a gram of fat, too much posing..

That one piece of music you put the trailer up for is the only thing that I'm going to keep. Anushka still hasn't won me over. The newbie.. I'll keep an eye out for. We'll see.

Dolce and Namak said...

Hey guys, sorry for the delay in publishing your comments.

So funny, Jyothi and Remini, I guess if you guys are the opposite ends of the spectrum, I am right in between. :)

Remini, I think we both had really high expectations for this one, but for me the two leads did make it work. In fact that's what I would say makes the movie. So I can totally see how you didn't like it if the two of them didn't do it for you. Because in all fairness it is a pretty run of the mill plot, so it's all up to the main guys to sell it to you. It worked for me, and I didn't find Ranveer over the top at all, plus I seem to really dig Anushka, so it was a good combo for me. Maybe she'll grow on you too, in time? As for Ranveer, I'm sure we'll see much better from him anyway, since this was his first film, so "wait and see" seems to be a good attitude.

@ Kaitlyn: Welcome! :) I think you will really really enjoy this one. Not in a NVND way (which I agree, has quite a bit of substance on top of the puppies and the dancing cows), but in a "great timepass, taking your mind off everything else for a couple of hours" kind of way. Save it for a rainy day ;)

Dolce and Namak said...

@ Jyothi, before I get to the film, please don't ever think you're hogging space by giving me your opinion on films. I thoroughly enjoy reading it! That's what this space is for, people's opinions, and I love getting all kinds of different ones, so don't ever feel bad for that.

Ah... The RNBDJ dilemma: is it believable or is it not... See, for me, for some reason it worked. I've had people not recognize me when I went from long hair to short hair, or changed colours, and I have also been known to not recognize people I work closely with the first time they switched from business suits to jeans and tshirt. So because of that and many other such examples in my life, I had no problem buying the "Superman/Clark Kent" angle. And like I said, I perceived it as a fluffy movie anyway, so I wasn't really expecting real life accuracy.

Same with BBB, there are so many angles that I would not normally buy in a serious movie (the entire event planning angle for one, and nothing ever going wrong when they start out, but maybe that's just me). Also the whole premise of the two of them forming the partnership is pretty thin, once you think about it. The type of thing that would never happen in real life. I mean, I would even hesitate to make some of my oldest friends business partners, let alone some guy I just met and didn't even like. But because it's such a fluffy story, all that didn't matter, and I didn't see it with a critical eye. But that's what I mean when I say the story is fairly thin, so in the end it's all about being willing to not overthink these details. It seems that you found the characters and the situations much more relatable than me, which I think a lot of other people did. I agree with you that it's better thought out as a story than DBH and RNBDJ, but it didn't reach the level of memorable cinema with great characters IMO (like WUS or JWM did). Granted, it takes A LOT to impress me in a love story, so my opinion is only worth its weight in pixels when it comes to rom-coms anyway. :P

Dolce and Namak said...

PS for Jyothi :)
I just read an article that talks about films in the past year that have managed to create good rural or middle class urban characters (and stories), as opposed to the rich/opulent brats in the hits from the last 2 decades. BBB was one of the films mentioned. I wonder if it was this angle too that made this movie so much more memorable for you than it did for me, what with me not being familiar with what is "true to Indian life" specifically (as opposed to just true to life in general), so not something I would necessarily notice or value... Hm...

Swati Sapna said...

Ok I jus typed a really looooooong note and then it all just got wiped out! :( sigh.... so let me start all over again and hope I hv the patience to retype all that I meant to say earlier.

Am soooo glad u loved BBB! Loved the way you broke down the science to the film :) completely agree with ur distinction between good rom-coms and glittery fluff-balls or what I call Piasa vasool entertainment! BBB and Patiala House fall in the latter category for me. OK, I know some ppl will be baying for my blood after this cmment, but my argument is the same. Wafer thin plot, sure! But crazy Punjabi family, eye-hurtingly colourful clothes, good music, story of the underdog, cricket, Akshay, Anushka, happy ending - whats not to like really??! :P
With movies like these if you expect reality and logic and meaningful cinema, more the loser you!

About Rab Ne, i personally didnt love it. (And it takes a lot of effort from a SRK groupie like me to admit it!). I liked it, yes, but what I wanted from it was a typical making u weak in the knees srk romance ala Kuch kuch hota hai or Dil To Pagal hai with its super sexy 'Aur paas aao' kinds scene! yes, yes, i know i hv no hope :D

I hated DBH though... and again liked Love Aaj Kal but not loved it. But JWM was good cinema and fantastic rom-com. havent seen such a fulfilling movie post that...

Anushka and Ranveer totally hv my vote for stars to watch out for. I had no great opinion of Anushka earlier, but post BBB and PH she is way higher on my list than Deepika and Sonam.

Dolce and Namak said...

Oh Swati, about Sonam... Ahem... That would be the very very bottom of my list. In fact, maybe *under* the bottom of my list :P

But you bring up an interesting point of view with Patiala House, a movie that I would never think of watching (Akshay is just not my thing, and Tees Maar Khan turned me off him completely). But now that you put it in the same category as BBB, I am starting to get interested... Hm... Must watch out for that DVD then. I do like the soundtrack.

You know I realized after writing this post that there is a very fluid border between fluffs and rom-coms, and no two people seem to have the same films in each category. Very enlightening. And yes, Rab Ne is an interesting movie because it's so polarizing. I personally did not want any swooning from it, it wouldn't have fit right, but then again, I find films like Mr and Mrs Iyer to be far swoonier than DTPH and KKHH, so clearly my tastes are wonky :D (Though I did like that Aur Paas scene, go figure! Btw, I see you have a sweet tooth in movies too, not just food ;))

I do believe my raging perma-crush on Shahid may have had some weight in the way I evaluated DBH, and I will not try to hide that, but there we go, I loved it. :)

It's interesting to see people's opinions on these films, so thank you for sharing! It's always nice to see you here!

Swati Sapna said...

Sonam - yes absolutely with u on that. Jus that so many ppl seem to think she is the future superstar! baffling...
Also Mr & Mrs Iyer - i jus love that movie. and i kinda know what u mean by that kind of swooning :) though srk is still my no. 1... tee hee!
Also Shahid is so drool worthy that I almost understand why u liked DBH so much! He is soooo dishy...

PS - wondering what u will make of Saat Khoon Maaf... hv u watched it yet?

Dolce and Namak said...

Bwahahaha!!! "Dishy"! I love that! Must add it to my Shahid vocabulary :P Btw, just concoting a post about him for his upcoming bday, keep an eye out for it :)

Watching 7KM tomorrow, so excited for it that I even had a nightmare last night about my theatre only screening half of the film and leaving out Neil and Naseer's parts. I woke up desperate, and then I realized I'm not seeing it until tomorrow and relaxed :D I have yet to find a VB movie I don't love, so my expectations are somewhere in the stratosphere right now :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Dear,
Hope you are fine and doing well i watched your all movies and like all of them because of you, but in Band Baaja Baaraat in the bed with the hero what you did the sound was not good little bit decent , therefor dear then this kind of move no one can watch with there family,
thanks hope u don`t mind it,
Aryan Afghan

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