Saturday, October 31, 2009

Darna mana hai? Darna mushkil hai, yaar..

(With my barely existing Hindi skills the title of this post is supposed to say "Fear is forbidden? To fear is difficult, man..")

Last night was another NIF movie night. For those of you unaware, NIF is a term originating from the Bollywhat? forums, where it was decided that N(on-)I(ndian)F(ilm person) would refer to those who primarily consume non-Indian entertainment and aren't familiar or (yet) keen on Indian films in general. I have two friends who are still NIFs essentially but we've formed a habit of meeting up with me coming to their apartment, a handful of Indian movies in hand. Altogether we've matched tens of Indian films from my collection, and while some haven't been successes, I'm clearly doing something right; one of my friends bought Rang De Basanti for herself earlier this year.

There's also another, less clearly defined group of NIFs I'm semi-regularly showing Hindi films to; some friends from university. Attendance was high on the first meeting when we watched Lage Raho Munnabhai, but low on second meeting when only three guys made it. To cater to stereotypical "guy tastes", I didn't shove Hum Tum into my DVD player, but we instead watched Sholay, which was a tad too long for their attention span, but they liked it. So much can be said for that classic - it might be alien to those unfamiliar with Indian cinema, but dammit, it simply works!

But now I throw this to you? Since I do a lot of rewatching with my NIF buddies, even during the dry periods when I tend to not watch much new stuff myself, I tend to want to write about them, as I have in the past, but are they interesting for you all to read about? My blog is essentially for my own views, and it can be weird to read those of total strangers, but naturally during these rewatch posts I'll also shed light on how the rewatch changed my view on the film, or if it did at all.

So since it was so close to Halloween - though we Finns don't celebrate - I picked the only horror-esque/scary-ish Bollywood film I had in my collection (unless scary means really, really bad, in which case I have more than this one) and through the luck of a random draw, this became the film of the evening.

I suppose it deserves a mention as I discuss the RGV-produced Darna Mana Hai (Fear is forbidden, 2003), which I saw around three years back during my biggest "I must see everything Saif Ali Khan was in!"-phase, I bought it simply because Saif looked hot on the cover. To be specific, Ek Hasina Thi-esque. Yes, that hot. For that reason, I only really have screencaps of his and Boman's bit of the story.

I warned my friends, "This is not a scary movie. This is a freaky, hilarious movie." DMH has six separate ghost stories wrapped in a framework of a stereotypical slasher plot of a story; seven friends get stranded on a road in the middle of nowhere after their car breaks down. They make a bonfire and start sharing ghost stories to each other. Naturally a killer creeps in the forest around them.

The first story, starring Sohail Khan and Antara Mali, is actually a tiny bit creepy. The direction varies from story to story, sometimes rather radically. Salim-Sulaiman's music composition for the movie is appropriately freaky, but a little too much so - it just seems like they went a bit too crazy with it. Since the movie really isn't scary at all, creating jump scares with weird sound effects just comes off as goofy.

But while the first story might actually have some hope as to this being a scary movie, the second story shatters all such illusion. The story of Anil, a photographer spending a night in a remote hotel run by a peculiar character (Boman Irani), starts out with some tension but ends up just being hilarious in its exaggerated nature. Both actors do a fine job, don't get me wrong - I quite love them in this - but the story itself is just quite something else. You have to see it to believe it.

But here's a hint for you.

Around this story my friends began realizing this really was a movie to be enjoyed in a less serious manner. The story of Raghuvir Yadav as a teacher haunted by the fact a little girl does her homework is probably the weakest of all the stories, but the next story, with Shilpa Shetty and co-starring apples, saves the film by being a total riot (somewhat intentionally I would hope!).

Vivek Oberoi and Nana Patekar's story about a midnight hitchhiker probably delivers the best twist out of all the stories, and the last one starring Aftab Shivdasani getting weird powers from a god began to test our collective patience with the movie. The worst part? It wasn't over yet! Still tens of minutes to watch Sameera Reddy try to escape the hands of a demented killer in the middle of the forest. At least the other crappy actors they got to the framework story were out of the picture at that point (not really a spoiler, you figure so much out from the get go).

The film ends on another twist, naturally, and then we get credits along with some more badly mixed dance music. These factors made one of my friends announce, "This is probably the worst film I've ever seen. And that includes Twilight." I replied, "Oh come on, you can't possibly mean that!". She immediately backtracked, "Okay, maybe not. But out of the ones we've seen so far.."

It's true, Darna Mana Hai is quite possibly the most mediocre out of the films I've provided them with so far. But it has its charm, for the mini-stories, the goofy twists, the scary apples! And if the tag line of the film is, "jo darr gaya, woh mar gaya" (he who fears, dies) then shouldn't we just be glad there's no way in hell we're going to be scared during this film?

So that's my non-pick for the Halloween. Happy Halloween to all those who celebrate. Those who don't, enjoy the weekend!


rossywar said...

I thought I'd seen this film, but I was just getting it confused with Darna Zaroori Hai. Now, that film actually did spook me out - but I get scared quite easily so that may not mean much...

Also - I am interested in your views on the films you watch! I don't have many (any) people I can discuss BW films with in real life, so blogs like yours and people like you are a great substitute :)

Anita said...

Seriously? I loved this movie when I saw it. Was playing on TV and my mom kept going back to it even though we all had work. Of course, now if you ask her she'll probably say she hated it, but I know deep down she was addicted to those stories! XD

But, yeah, I enjoyed it and it was SO MUCH BETTER than Darna Zaroori Hai, which amped up the star-level of the cast but had the most predictable stories. I think the Vivek-Nana one was really well done. :)

veracious said...

rossywar - Thanks!

Anita - You see, I think it's a mixed bag. First story and Nana-Vivek story are the best in terms of freakiness, some stories are lame, some are just hilarious. It's a fun watch - I've seen it three times and I don't regret buying it - but it's not, you know, suberb.

Kiran said...

I saw this movie quite a few years back, so don't remember the details very well. I don't like horror films at all. I get spooked very easily. I was told DMH was not scary,so took a chance. Predictably, i got spooked by the nana patekar episode. Pathetic, i know :)

Anonymous said...

Your posts on the experience of watching bolly movies with NIF are really interesting. Keep sharing your experiences.

Darshit said...

I actually liked this silly scary flick. :)