Saturday, June 14, 2008

A list of filmi fondness topics.

Random pic of Hema Malini, from the film Dillagi (1978).

In my blog's sidebar I have listed a bunch of things I enjoy in Indian films. For all the crap Hindi films get about being "all the same", there's an admirable amount of variety in there, and after having seen a fair amount of films, you tend to recognize what sort of things you enjoy, and what you don't. Of course, I have favourites in actors, actresses, music directors, playback singers and directors - sometimes even production houses and other crew members (I often surf cinematographers' filmographies to get a sense of their capabilities and style). Then there are things I enjoy that do not fit in these categories but are rather about genre, or plot stereotypes or something similar. I wrote the sidebar thingy as a sort of an introduction into my tastes - why somebody may disagree with it, and why somebody else may relate to it.

youthful love stories - So many examples, from DDLJ to its 21st century Telugu daughter, Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana. From QSQT to Dil Chahta Hai, Bommarillu, Kaadhal, Jab We Met. Young people falling in love is included in so many movies, and in the best ones, it's oh-so-wonderful.

comedy - I was thinking yesterday that while I agree that Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro moves slowly as hell, it's still one of the funniest comedies out there. Then you have Andaz Apna Apna, Bluffmaster, Munnabhai films, so many good ones. It ain't all Johnny Lever, and even Johnny can be good on occasion (Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega). Priyadarshan comedies rarely work for me, but I have to say Paresh Rawal in Hera Pheri and Phir Hera Pheri (and indeed the whole trio in Hera Pheri) gets me laughing every time.

women kicking ass - I believe I kind of elaborated this in my Top Five Hindi Film Heroines list but yeah, tough ladies are rare and awesome. For whatever reason, it makes me happier to see a girl kick ass in a Hindi film than an English one. Maybe it's the fact that especially in the past, girls who do a little ass-kicking (think Zeenat Aman, Hema Malini) were not sexualized graituitously. And in newer films, it seems that if the girls are wearing skimpy skin-tight outfits while doing action, the guys are also objectified equally (think Dhoom 2). It's clear that Hindi films are not ideal for displays of gender equality, but sometimes I think they get certain things very, very right.

Bharatanatyam dancing - Thillana Mohanambal, Sagara Sangamam, Sangamam... It's mostly Southie films that feature this beautiful form of dancing. Films introduced me to it and since then I'm always on a look out for BN or BN-inspired dancing.

Aamir's moustache twirl - Mangal Pandey. The best thing about Mangal Pandey (though I am in the minority who didn't absolutely hate the film).

films parodying themselves - There are a lot of movies out there that seem aware of the fact they're films, or make fun of other films, or take clich├ęs to a parodic extreme, and a lot of those films are Indian and plenty of them are very effective with this kind of mocking about. Hindi films especially seem to often be all about paying tribute to the stars and the films of the past, as well as back-patting and laughing at its own tropes (but in a loving way). My favourite of this kind is probably the outrageously funny Andaz Apna Apna, and less goofball but also very creative and charming Jaan-e-Mann.

dishoom-dishoom - One of my favourite things on any film ever is Amitabh Bachchan making gun sound effects in Sholay. And of course, glorious 70's fight scenes is where it's at. Completely. Not to mention Tamil films and their often interestingly choreographed fight-sequences that take up much time in the movie and never fail to establish the machoness of the hero character.

Hinglish silliness - ..makes my dil go mmm. No, seriously, I understand how much it can pain the native speakers of the language to cringe at their gorgeous Hindi or poetic Urdu mangled next to the supposedly 'hip' angrezi. But I don't know, to me the most peculiar examples are usually the funniest, and the most delightful. They amuse me as much as they sometimes horrify me.

good filmi kisses - At first, discovering Bollywood meant discovering the fact that lovers on-screen do not have to kiss in order to be believable at portraying love. Your screen can be melted by sizzling chemistry even without any body contact at all (similarly two actors can make out and not have an ounce of chemistry between them). But regardless of this fact, on-screen kissing is lovely when carried out right, in the right film and in the right scene. My favourite kisses are probably in Hum Tum, Jab We Met, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Bunty aur Babli.

the way Tamil/Tamizh sounds - The first Tamil film I watched, I couldn't tell the difference between it and Hindi. Little by little, my experience grew and I began to learn the distinct sounds of Tamil, it's long words and a bit about its sentence structure, too. I'm not necessarily saying it sounds better or more beautiful than Hindi/Urdu, it's just that I really enjoy the unique sound it has.

good ol' masala - It all comes back to the reliable formula. Of course, even just the elements that masala has vary from decade to decade. And naturally every now and then it's wonderful to step out of that comfort zone and watch something from the thriller genre or artsier cinema, off-beat or just lower budget non-masala.

cheesy 90's anything - Sure the modern films may look better, be better scripted, too, and often more contain more variety in stories and subject matters. And the golden oldies are indeed golden. But 90's Hindi films have a certain appeal to them. It's the era that gave us the most important lot of stars, the uber-romantic college movies, the family value fests ala HAHK, bad hair, worse fashion, Anu Malik soundtracks you cannot get out of your head, star-studded disasters like Ishq or so-bad-it's-good Karan Arjun... 90's has it all. I'm not hopelessly infatuated with it, but I am pretty fond of it none the less, cheese and all.

Manmohan Desai - I've not seen all of his films, nowhere near it, but his name on a film is always a promise of something good, something outrageous, something exciting.


Filmi Girl said...

I love your list! (Now I want to do one...)

I must be the other person who enjoyed Mangal Pandey. It had it's problems, but Aamir's moustache was not one of them. :D

Also, ladies who kick ass are AWESOME! You have to see my screencaps of Mumtaz hitting some henchmen over the head with a giant stick in Ram aur Shyam.

veracious said...

Mangal Pandey could've been so much better but the first time I saw it, I was quite interested and impressed. The second watch, not so much. Still, fond memories.

Hehe, go Mumtaz!