Saturday, October 25, 2008

Animated movies: you're doing it wrong.

Warning: This post is pure prejudice against what could be a perfectly fine movie that I haven't seen, nor intend to.

I can't put my finger on why Yash Raj Films' animation venture Roadside Romeo feels so wrong, misguided and unthrilling. Perhaps rather than one thing, it's a combination of several small things. Let me try to break it down.

1) The title. I know Hindi films and Tamil films have a tendency to romanticize sexual harrassment of females and I admit I've had a number of uncomfortable moments watching a film where the hero pesters the heroine and I'm just sitting there thinking "Dude, give up, she's not into you!". Roadside romeos are, as I understand it, those guys who lounge about and whistle at and follow pretty girls. The Tamil movie Boys I almost turned off because the boys in it engaged so heavily in this kind of behavior. Basically, the title brings to mind an euphenism for "total creep". Not the best first impression, you know?

2) It's a Bollywood movie ..with dogs! And animated! Because seriously, the promos make it seem like just that. Which would be fine but ..why? The thing about animation is you can do anything, so why stick to Hindi film conventions? And will kids - assumably the target audience - get into this at all, or will it be more something that the parents enjoy? And if only the parents enjoy it, there's no reason to make an animated movie, other than for the sake of having made an animated feature, and that's just lame. Unless you absolutely must make a Bollywood movies starring dogs as it is a life-long dream, which would be ..a little weird to say the least.

3) Laila. If you don't know, this is Kareena's character, the heroine of the film. And yes, a dog. A dog whose floppy ears are made to look like hair. Again, not understanding the need to make a film about dogs but make them extremely human-like in all aspects. Reminds me too much of furryism to be completely innocent, if you know what I mean. The first promo of Laila had her flirting with the director and him getting so excited the lens got fogged up. Um. It's a dog. It's a very female-looking dog, but it's still a dog and getting all hot over a dog is kind of ..I better not say. Laila's second promo had her performing some sort of an item number-esque song in what appeared to be animated Dhoom 2 sets. I know it's probably easier to make an animated dog dance than it is to teach Kareena Kapoor (Laila's voice actress) complicated dance steps but again, I really fail to see the point.

4) What I guess it all boils down .. the concept. The film seems like a Bollywood-reference packed romantic comedy. Animated films don't have to be something only kids enjoy but when the film is about dogs and the style of the animation is very conventional, you'd expect they'd at least make sure kids can understand it and enjoy it next to adults. If you're going to make a film mainly adults enjoy, why go through the trouble of animation? And why make them friggin' dogs if you're going to go out of your way to make them as human as possible?

I'm sure you could see this see as some sort of magnificent breaking ground in Hindi cinema, but I couldn't care less. There's always room for new films that acknowledge and parody the past great Hindi films, but this? A little too weird for me, I think.


Rosalind Francis said...

This is exactly what I feel about Roadside Romeo. But I think it's the sexualisation of the characters that gets me. Like, Disney characters are handsome/pretty but essentially innocent and childlike. This is not what I'm getting from the trailers! Also why make them dogs if you're going to have them walk around on two legs, speak and wear clothes and behave like people?

also that stupid song is too catchy.

veracious said...

Yeah, they walk on two feet, too. WTF? The anthropomorphization (I guess is the word?) is just massively creepy. It works with Disney films like Robin Hood, not so much here.

anitarama said...

I was talking to Smi and also my best friend about this. Robin Hood was what spawned all those furries over here in the West, is Roadside Romeo supposed to be creating a generation of Indian furries?! O_O The thought scares me, and it scares me even more that a) Yash Raj Films are the ones backing this, urrgh, what were they thinking? and b) There is news of SO MANY OTHER animated movies to come, that this seems to be the new trend.

And when I say other animated movies, I mean from big names. Kajol and Ajay are doing one. Shahrukh is producing another. I don't mind the whole animated thing, as long as they take more of the route of RECENT Disney/Pixar movies. Less sexualization, yet hilarity. Like, you can still humanize them (kind of like Lion King or Finding Nemo) but not make it cross the line.

Sorry for rambling. As you can see, I feel as strongly about this as you do.

Anonymous said...

Hollywood employs animators from India to do their work, so why can't Bollywood hire Hollywood animators (Indian origin they may be)?? These things are usually a statement of the level of skill and money an industry have (despite the foreign employment). This whole human-like animated characters is not new at all (having just recently seen Surf's Up). Bollywood caters to the general Indian audience's tastes and producing this film without the animations won't make this film seem "different" to other Bollywoof films.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Ugh- it sounds terrible! I am a big fan of the 2 legged Robin Hood, but this just sounds creepy- wont watch- thanks for the warning!

Smitha said...

Yeah, the entire movie seems like a practice in convention. It's as if they decided to make a regular movie, but threw in "animated dogs" as a concept to get kids hooked too and maybe market lots of toys and throw-ins, thereby making even more money by cashing in. It stinks of someone looking for the next big cash cow.

But the sexualization bugs me too.

Bollywood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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ajnabi said...

From the reviews I've read of RR, your concerns are justified. A couple of the reviewers expressed concerns that the plot had elements completely unsuitable for children.

veracious said...

Anita- Yeah, animation in itself is not the great evil, it's just the KIND of animation they make that results in fail ..and possibly furries. :D

anon - Hmm, I think the animation in RR is fine from the technical standpoint - so Indian animation is getting better. But the stories have to get better as well.

Shweta - Heh, no problem.

Smitha - Oooh the toy aspect is a good point. YRF are way greedy.

thebollywoodfan - Yep, that film title sounds like a possibly more fun kids' movie.

Ajnabi - Yikes! Good to know my prejudice is not totally unfounded.

Anonymous said...

Shrek 2 must've given you a heart attack!