Friday, December 09, 2005

Let's have some India Shindia

Neal N' Nikki, I hear, is set in Canada. It's supposed to be a about a guy who's getting married in 21 days and wants to get laid that many times before D Day. Whatever. Salaam Namaste, a film ostensibly about live-in relationships and actually quite a good rip-off of Nine Months, was set in Australia. There have been dozens of Hindi films in between that have been set in England, America, Honolulu, the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. For every Hindi film that pans out against the backdrop of a Delhi or a Bombay, there must be, I think, three that find it necessary to set the scene of action abroad. And have you noticed? Most of the films that talk about 'revolutionary' concepts such as living-in are set abroad. As if the film-makers want to show how progressive and broad-minded Indians have become, but only if they are living away from home.

I had huge expectations from Salaam Namaste. I thought, ok finally, here's a mainstream, commercial film that talks about live-in relationships, and gives every indication of talking about it in a healthy, matter-of-fact way. The disillusionment started from the first scene when I realised it was not set in Bombay, as might have been expected, but in far-away Australia, and continued right uptill Preity Zinta, nine months pregnant and looking like she'd been carrying the kid for eighteen, breaks into a jig with rasta rappers. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the film, I did, immensely, and thought it was pretty well-made with wonderful comic timing, but I couldn't help being disappointed in it. Australia had nothing to do with it, and wouldn't it have been more pertinent to show how young urban Indians living in Indian metros didn't think it was a big deal to go in for a live-in relationship? Take Kal Ho na Ho, for that matter. Did the fact that these people were living in New York in any way add to the drama? It was a story about relationships, and would have worked out just as well in India, and maybe even captured a changing country in the funny, tongue-in-cheek manner that made it such an enjoyable film (Shah Rukh Khan's wet shirt notwithstanding).

It amazes me how, with the Indian social landscape changing so rapidly and so dramatically, film-makers refuse to take advantage of it. When so much social reality can be captured in film -- whether it's in a serious, funny or even frivolous way -- they go and take the easy way out to show it's all happening abroad. When the 'abroad' adds nothing to the story, and is as much a static backdrop as a set cut out of cardboard. Is it just stunning visuals they are after, or capturing the NRI audience? I just don't understand it. Anyway, I don't think I'll watch Neal N' Nikki.

UPDATE, UPDATE: I read this post just now and since it happens to say similar things and was written much before mine was and is on a vastly more popular blog than mine, I am now certain mine will be the next name on the Blog Plagiarism Hall of Shame. And I'll be on holiday (yes, despite my self-proclaimed dislike of the same) for the next two days, and don't want to come back to discover my name is mud. Genuine, genuine coincidence folks. Or great minds thinking alike. Whatever.


At December 09, 2005 9:38 PM, Blogger anangbhai said...

Its just a way of making money for them. There is no filmmaker currently in bollywood that is willing to tackle social issues, only profit is involved. Even if the premise is topical i.e. live in couple, its mostly glossed over with lots of sugar n' spice to keep that money flowin.

At December 09, 2005 11:59 PM, Blogger Ron said... true. I wonder why Bollywood needs to hide behind "cross over cinema" to show reality?

At December 09, 2005 11:59 PM, Blogger Anyesha said...

Exactly what I felt after watching the film. It did not go into one of the most important reasons why young people favor live-in relationships. You get to live with some on you like as opposed to a wacko housemate and you also save money. The whole experience was so totally filmi and the part where Javed Jaffrey proudly declares -" Wife working, husband jerking" had our group of one live -in couple, one gay couple, oe married couple and a bunch of single folks (all drunk, btw) totally in splits!!
I really have not met people who live together because its cool. And even if they do...they have more brains than to get pregnant and carry a giant sized pumpkin around.

At December 10, 2005 1:24 AM, Blogger 4WD said...

Neal n nikki.

I'd watch it, if only it didn't have that monkey-face fellow in it. Whats his name. I'd rather watch the other monkey-face, Ajay Devgan. At least he looks like a brooding orangutan. This monkey face looks like a little, bleached bonobo.

The girl, kajol's sis, is cute. And she keeps pointing to her breasts in the trailer. See, if it wasn't for monkey-face, then the movie might be ok.

Remember bombay boys?

Ok, seriously, the idea of hindi movies, is that you have to give people something that they can aspire to. Something they can dream about. And if you want to tackle any socially relevant subject, you need to have something that the distributors will like.

Come on, if distributors could decide the end of a film like ``life is beautiful'', nevermind the historic inaccuracy, whats a little phoren setting for apna desi maal?

At December 11, 2005 11:18 PM, Blogger Chaila Bihari said...

Thank God Marauder, that they didn't do the same to Hazaron...
Mesrs Chopra & Johar could have taken Siddarth & Gita, perhaps to the Steppes, running in the grassland. Vikram could have been broking a deal to sell off the Windsor Castle, maybe.

At December 15, 2005 1:01 AM, Blogger gypsy said...

uhm..just one thing..though I dont know you, judging from your posts I can safely call you a "great mind" but beg tell me why you would think of calling Rashmi Bansal that??!!!

nice post btw..inspired to go and catch Neal N Nikki shortly ;-)

At December 15, 2005 4:26 PM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Actually, shooting abroad is an economically better proposition for producers. They have schedules sletched out in advance, right to the last minute. Actors commit their dates, and suchlike. So, films are canned faster abroad. These destinations also offer great discounts to film units, keeping in mind the tourism potential the films could offer.

So, you can expect a "parallel" film on poverty shot in Ghana or Congo very soon!

At December 20, 2005 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmm, what about the indians who live abroad... maybe they want to feel indian still, so maybe these films are made a little bit for them? they did move out of india, but believe me they carry india in their heart, in a way, they never knew they could, when they were in India( and probably you dont either, india is all around you, you don't need to carry it in your heart my friend)

At December 21, 2005 11:50 AM, Blogger LAK said...

Long ago, there was a film about a live-in relationship, set in apna India, Mumbai to be exact, starring rajesh Khanna and Vidya Sinha. The background is that the astrologer fortells that the man will die if he marries this girl, so they decide not to get married but live together. And then of course all the problems they face, number one being that the girl is looked at askance!


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