Posts

Showing posts from May, 2010

Umrao Jaan Courtesans

I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and other languages.

Laaga Chunari Mein Daag directed by Pradeep Sarkar belongs to my shopping cart of one million original stories because Rohan (Abhishek Bachchan) asks Vibhavari (Rani Mukherjee) to marry him although he knows that she is a sex worker. Now that is highly unlikely in real life. Most men prefer to have as many frequent flyer miles as possible, but the woman they marry must be a virgin.

I’m interested in the centuries’ old character of the courtesan. The status of women might have improved in the 21st century but society still has two women, the one you elevate to wife and mother, and the one you buy for a few hours and discard like Chandramurkhi in the fil…

Weather Conditions

I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and other languages.

The disadvantage of not living in countries where films are shot is that we miss out on interviews with directors about production logistics. That is where platforms such as the Berlin Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Montreal and many others come in handy, because that is where foreigners like me hear directors and producers speak.

I’m interested in what goes on in pre-production. Do Indian directors have weather men and women? I don’t mean those on television who say it will partly cloudy in Goa, and sunny in Agra but people in the crew who must find out when it will be raining so that the director can get the shot he wants.

I al…

Films about HIV/AIDS

I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and other languages.

I’ve resigned myself to stares from shop assistants when they see the DVD of the Indian movie I’m trying to buy. I get all kinds of questions including, “Do you like them?” One shop assistant said, “They are too long.” Time flew like lighting when I was screening Phir Milenge, starring Shilpa Shetty and Salman Khan.

Marriage is one social issue that is in every film from Mumbai. Producers finance films about love and arranged marriages all the time because most viewers seem to be comfortable with that, but shy away from abortion, single parents, and definitely not HIV/AIDS.

In Phir Milenge, the subject matter is being HIV positive, which makes family…

Indian Classical Dance

I am an NRI, translated into: no real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and other languages.

What also draws me to Hindi films is storytelling in dance. There was none in Jodhaa Akbar, but I enjoyed Aishwarya Rai’s dancing in Umrao Jaan, as Nandini in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanaam, and as troubled Sahiba, in Dhaai Akshar Prem Ke, but I still felt that something was missing. I only found it later in Neel Kamal, where Ram Maheshwary the director has all those statues and Waheeda Rhema dances.

You see, my vision of Indian dance was formed in Lamontiville, an African township in Durban South Africa, next door to Chatsworth. Racial segregation called apartheid said Africans should live in Lamontville and Indians in Chatsworth.

Although we lived separate…