Wednesday, June 20, 2007

jhoom barabar jhoom

If what follows is tl;dr, a summary: Wow, I had an outrageously good time. After all, a couple of good yarns, a dinky dress or two, and the cobra dance. Is there anything else in life worth paying attention to? Overload! Overload! I FEEL SO ALIVE.


Full Story:

A hundred years from now, Bollywood will not exist.

Indian cinema will implode and morph into something we can only dream of at present. It will become something organic and edgier, perhaps. Independent, regional cinema will flourish again. We will give ourselves over to our traditional strength, telling well-plotted, emotionally honest stories in polished, complex ways, and be internationally renowned for it.

I know this because I have seen the future. It isn't Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, but it's around the corner from it. It's so close I can almost touch it.

Having seen a couple of brave, partially successful attempts at making an honest industry of Bollywood over the last month, like Metro and Cheeni Kum, I feel confident that we can only get better at keeping our shit together. In the meanwhile, we marvel and laugh at surreally enjoyable meta-Bollywood. Now nothing pretends to be real anymore. This isn't the year of the blockbuster meta-film, I know, because JBJ only follows on from its predecessors, Main Hoon Na and so on, but it is perhaps the best example of its kind in modern Bollywood - because it employs all the weapons in its arsenal without the sly deprecation and insincerity of the Khan vehicles of the last couple of years. There's neither cynicism nor sentimentality at work here. It's not a film about its stars, although stars it has aplenty. It's not about its locations, although there is some glorious work in Paris, Agra and London on sight here. You're not expected to treat them as something worth the ticket price, they're background. It's not about overtones, underlying meanings, or central themes. Its about story and song and the accidents of this big old piss-up in which human beings operate.

And it's Bollywood 1, rest of world 0. Bigtime.

It's annoying that people like Preity Zinta [hi, Lindsey Lohan at 30] couldn't be bothered to look interested for the length of the film, nor yet that some sagging in the script in the second half makes it slightly cumbersome in comparision to the first half. I'll pick Shaad Ali over Farhan Akhtar or - who is that other Yashraj disciple who tries to do the same thing? Nikhil Advani? - for writing, vision and craft. His lightness of touch is amazing. Apart from the moronic closing sequence, a counter-intuitive shot of his sutradhar [a truly hideous Amitabh Bachchan] pulling all the threads together for his pea-brained audience, I can scarcely think of an instance when he just didn't let the stories tell themselves. Because this is a movie about storytelling, too. The two main characters are on a train station talking at each other for most of the film [and involved in a gigantic dance-fight for the prize of the 'Mr and Miss Southall' title for the rest of the time. Can anyone be serious about hating dance-offs?] The song sequences are masterfully balanced between outrageous and endearing, and the driving bass and superb choreography feel really helps.

It's brilliant. For once I didn't feel sick about how overrated Abhishek Bachchan is. He was shaky in the first five minutes or so, but the later sequences have him really get under the skin of his character, a loud, smart-mouthed trickster whose signature line is, "Class hai mujhe." [His ringtone is a sexy female voice purring 'Ey, handsome.' He sleeps under a Chelsea FC duvet. I damn well wish Jose Mourinho had agreed to that proposed special appearance in this film, it's the only thing that would have added to its awesomeness.] Lara Dutta's great, too - she mixes her accents up here and there but they're all freakishly convincing, and her comic timing is excellent. And the second half contains perhaps the best portrait of subcontinental expat life I have seen in Indian cinema, because it isn't afraid of tempering affection with wit and snap, and thankfully doesn't fall back on the age-old Bollywood trope of poking fun at teh_phorenerz!! to prove Indian superiority.

And that, Karan Johar, is how you make an NRI film for adults.

Bye bye, Bollywood. We'll always have the memories.


  1. will have to take your word for it. The sight of AB sr. in that hat was enough to give nightmares.

  2. nice review.....I am starting to wonder if all ppl in bollywood are really thick or just dont care?

  3. the hat wasn't even the worst of it. my goodness, there's a ... blue lock of hair ... cannot ... bear ... thinking of it. ugh.

    hello there, cool alien. take me to your dealer. *cackle* i think the nest way to ascertain an answer to your question is perhaps to watch 'koffee with karan' regularly?

  4. funny....It was a bad movie. watched it over the weekend.
    I walked out twice......had nothing better to do...and went back to the movie hoping it would get better. Never did.

    And I do agree with you.....Bolloywood is drowing.....
    Quick...throw them an anchor ! :D

  5. thanks a lot - now i can decide, i will not see it..even though zinta baby is in there...

  6. henry, barca. oh my,my. are you crying or drooling?

  7. I'm a little upset, but life's going on pretty fine, thank you. I only feel bad that Titi will never now win a Champions' League in his life. Arsenal will never be unstoppable: they're not that kind of team. But they will win, this year or the next, and I will laugh and laugh.

    I like Barca, of course, but I don't root for them to win [unless they're playing a team I honestly can't stand]. I like it when they play beautifully and still fall flat on their faces. I like it when teams give off the 'we are so post-football' vibe. :)

    @the rest of you: HATERZ. Go watch it again! :)

  8. totally off point but need to share since I'm dying of cuteness

  9. Preity Zinta and Lindsay Lohan? Get a new pusher!

  10. Get a new pair of eyeballs!