Bollywood, Mainstream and the West

Went out for a movie last night – Inside Man. The movie was more than just mildly entertaining, and we had reasonable fun pre-empting most of the plot and scenes. As always, Sri and I have this amazing and magnetic quality of attracting the loudest movie-goers. Think of the ones with strange ringtones, people with stakes in gastronomic intake of their children, couples who are fighting (I prefer the ones who’ve already fought – they stay quiet in their fury), miserable name droppers who know the entire cast, crew and their uncles.Well

Well, I digress. The thing that really hit us about the movie was it opened with a song Dil Se. The incredible Chaiyy Chaiyya with Malaika Arora and Shah Rukh Khan used in the opening credits and first two minutes of the movie. In fact even the logo of Universal Studios opened to the song. It’s impossible to not enjoy this song. However, given the amazing way it was shot in the movie, it seemed so flat in this one. Nevertheless it completely surprised the two of us when the thumping Chaiyya Chaiyya filled the theatre. Zoo Station has a pretty interesting post on “Soft Power and Bollywood” and links to Andy Mukherjee in Bloomberg on Bollywood’s charm and Globalization.

What was interesting about the use of a Bollywood track in a Hollywood movie was that there was no context to it. It didn’t have any background of an Indian Diner or (gasp!) a robbery of Indian jewellery or ancient swords. It just rolled in with such casualness. It wasn’t even an ‘exotic’ touch. It could have bordered on the kitsch, but the visuals didn’t let it slip into that category. I think somewhere it speaks volumes about the notion of mainstream and ethnic and redefining the boundaries of both. Oh! Do watch out for the Sikh character in the movie who walks out of a bank (during a hostage situation) and gets might pissed about being called an Arab. He gets into an (almost annoying) argument about being a Sikh and being marginalized/ victimized. But it has a nice touch of humour to it.

2 Comments

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2 Responses to Bollywood, Mainstream and the West

  1. Roy

    Hi..

    First time on ur blog. Baap re baap a whole site for blogging…kool!!

    Yeah I’m looking to watch this film for 3 reasoins though it’s still not released in India ..

    1. Of course Chaiya Chaiya
    2. Denzel washington…my fav actor
    3. spike lee, the dorector who started his carrer from shooting music video for Michael Jackson..

    btw, nice blog…worth reading!!

  2. Isnt it amazing that they shot the whole movie in 39 days! And had an Indian song in it… :) Too bad it was not a song AND dance ;)
    I saw another Spike Lee movie yesterday… Sucker Free City… I would give this one a 3 star… He does a great job of profiling inter-racial and intra-racial tensions, though this ended up with a soft finish…