Another blogger article…

In yesterday’s Times of India, “Bollywood’s Phoren Fan Brigade” by Ashwin Ahmad.

It’s not much different from Nisha Susan’s April Tehelka article, except that it misquotes me in the last paragraph by saying that I enjoyed Koi Mil Gaya. Let me clearly state here for the record that I hated KMG.

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22 Comments to “Another blogger article…”

  1. “I dislike Spielberg movies, precisely for their sentimentality. And yet I thoroughly enjoyed Koi Mil Gaya. I’m unsure of why I’m willing to be (emotionally) manipulated by Bollywood but it’s a mystery I’m going to continue to explore most enjoyably.”

    Greta, I’m curious. Sounds like they were comparing Hollywood & Bollywood’s sentimentality, and they had to make a point with your remark. So did you name some other movie instead of KMG, or that you hate *both* Spielberg & Roshan movies? Just curious.. :-)

  2. I truthfully have no idea where he got any of that, I have certainly never ever said that I enjoyed Koi Mil Gaya. I loathed it, but not because it was sentimental—I hated it because it was so BAD. Hated the terrible acting and the story was nothing more than an unoriginal and uncompelling mish-mash of sci-fi films made in Hollywood (including Spielberg’s ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind).

    I do hate Spielberg’s films (except Schindler’s List), and the way Hollywood films put such blatantly manipulative effort into trying to make films “emotional”…but I don’t mind it so much in “Bollywood” because I find Indian sentimentality much more genuine. I said as much in this post.

    Hollywood sentimental? Yeah, right. It’s all about making money, and not much else (with exceptions! of course! I know I’m generalizing!!). I don’t lump independent films in with Hollywood, either, BTW.

  3. Hmm.. I think you need a separate blog entry just on this topic!!

    I prefer Bollywood to Hollywood myself, but isn’t Bollywood also about making money? I was reading p-pcc blog on Sharmilee just now, and there “they” :-) mentioned how that rape scene illustrates the dilemma of Kamini. As much as I’d love to believe that scene was intended for this symbolism, I strongly suspect it was created more to .. I don’t know.. “attract” a certain section of the audience (the so-called frontbenchers). I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t confirm it, but many movies tend to do that.

    And ofcourse, not all movies even within Bollywood are like that.. I wouldn’t want to generalize myself. I didn’t like KMG either.. but did I like Hrithik’s acting? Not sure.. I certainly admired what I read about his dedication towards creating that character; and I had to think to myself while watching the movie, well he’s not any other mentally challenged kid, he has this special disease called *what-you-get-when-your-dad-dies-while-catching-alien-signals* (or whatever), so maybe his antics make sense. He was very sincere in his performance, and that I could admire.

    And that makes me think.. If I hadn’t read about his dedication, would I’ve liked his act? Same way, makes me think, is it because of what you know about Spielberg –through the media– makes you think he won’t get caught in the emotions of E.T &, maybe even, Jaws? (I haven’t seen Schindler’s List yet!! I know, shame on me!!) .. Sorry about the longggg reply, it’s just your post gave me *lots of* food for thought! :-D

  4. Hrithik is very sincere :-) I admire his character (what I know of it anyway) and dedication, and I think he will get better, but I found him laughable in KMG. I hope to God he never reads my blog, because I would hate to hurt his feelings!

    Of course Bollywood is also about making money—and getting more and more about it too, but I from what I’ve observed in India and from my friends and colleagues who are Indian, Indian sensibilities as a whole tend more towards the dramatic and sentimental than *many* westerners do (me not included). So the “mush” doesn’t bother me because it seems to come from inside if you know what I mean, rather than from some external force (“ooh this will make people cry and maybe we’ll get an Oscar!”). I don’t think I’m explaining it well, but it feels cynical to me in a film like Forrest Gump and much less cynical in even KMG. This could very well be me “romanticizing” a culture I am less familiar with although I don’t think I romanticize India in general.

    I’ll stop blathering on now and maybe others will chime in :-)

  5. 1. The PPCC is a plural and pluralist organization. We are!

    2. Greta, I’m so jealous! You and Beth are getting tons of awesome publicity!

    3. Ranya, I actually had the same suspicions of the rape scene in Sharmilee, if only because it seemed a bit gratuitous at times (all those shots of Rakhee’s panties!).

    4. Greta: if you do end up getting your hands on Ghungroo, can we do a watchalong?! I am DYING to share the movie with someone!

    5. PPCC khush hua.

  6. OMG, we didn’t say anything about the whole Hollywood/Bollywood dichotomy!

    OK,

    6. I agree with you, Greta, that Bollywood has a particularly soft and squishy dil, and this – I think – strikes many non-Indian viewers when they encounter Hindi cinema. Like, I noticed (and continue to notice) the near-constant use of really over-the-top irony (in dialogue, coincidences, etc) and genuine sentimentality. That same sort of sentimentality usually gets qualified with some nostalgia/self-deprecating irony, etc., in similar American films.

    7. That said, I like Spielberg and am happily manipulated by him. He’s a very interesting director – for example, I love how much he loves visual symmetries, and I also love how much he loves awed reaction shots and “grounding” shots (e.g. when epic heroic clashes fall into suburban kitchens, such as in the scene in Minority Report). One of my favorite movies ever – Empire of the Sun – is by him and I can’t really see that film, which is shamelessly emotional, as being particularly cynical.

    8. Abhi bhi PPCC khush hua.

  7. ppcc: you know that I ADORE you (all of you, even if you are only one). And I am not so sure about the publicity—it can be confusing and as I said here, not very accurate. I would love to watchalong ANY film with you, even a Raj Kapoor film, but even better would be Ghungroo. How do we coordinate a watchalong??? Filmigeek and I are going to watch something on Wed., but may not be able to write about it b/c we will be smoking her birthday hookah, which may render us somewhat insensible or at best careless.

    It may be that you can influence me to appreciate Spielberg, although I doubt it. I spent my teen years trying to understand his appeal…but just.could.not. I hated Empire of the Sun for the reasons quoted above…mujhe maaf kar do.

  8. 1. “The advantage of such fans is that they can end up serving as a bridge between Indians and westerners.”

    Amen!

    2. “Indian sensibilities as a whole tend more towards the dramatic and sentimental than *many* westerners…”

    Great point! I remember being intrigued by this holding true even among the segment of the (non-Bollywood-appreciating) NRI population born and brought up away from India. =)

  9. What a great discussion on Hollywood vs Bollywood! Have to put in my two cents’ worth. :-)

    Bollywood is certainly a lot more sentimental than Hollywood and the Bollymen have no problem weeping, either. But when it comes to gender relations, I find that Hollywood treats its women a lot better than Bollywood does. How often do you have a rape victim commit suicide because she has been rendered “impure” for any other man, in Hollywood? (this happened right upto the 80s when the angry-young-woman bent on avenging her lost izzat – respect – started making an appearance) Hollywood women are allowed to marry more than once and be in love with more than one guy in the same movie. There are very few such examples in Bollywood even today. Bollywomen arent even allowed to walk out on husbands who are total jerks – remember ‘Love in a Metro’? The men, of course, dont have any such constraints.

    On the Bollywood side though, the movies are such a mish-mash of romance, action and comedy that you can safely get your male friends to watch with you. I remember going to see Bridget Jones Diary in a theatre in Ottawa and found that the place was overflowing with women and just a few guys in sight! Bollyfilms cater to every kind of audience in a single film and so, are more likely to appeal to a wider audience. For me personally, the appeal of Bollywood is the songs, especially in old movies. Hollywood has its musicals too, but I think hindi movies do more interesting songs than Hollywood does.

  10. Ahhhh- thank God other ppl hate KMG too- I thought it was just me. I hate the whole deal- all the parts, eveyr bit, and have always felt a tiny bit guilty about it.

    Yay on featuring in TOI! Ms Greta- u’re def going places in the Indian media!

  11. BollywoodFan: I liked that point he made as well :-) Here’s to cultural bridges!

    Bollyviewer: Women do have a miserable lot in B’wood, it’s one of the hardest things for me to tolerate in Hindi films. What is fascinating to me though is that there’s an underlying admiration for how strong women are in it too, almost a “You have to suffer because you can tolerate it, while a man cannot.” And I love your “chick flick” point.

    Shweta: I know several other people who hated KMG too, although we are definitely in the minority. I have not seen Krrish, but am pretty sure I would hate it too. And I am such an Indian media whore ;-)

  12. Memsaab, curiously enough I’m misquoted and misrepresented in the Times of India article, too–and my name is misspelled! It takes some effort to misquote from blog entries or e-mails, from which text can be electronically cut and pasted for perfect accuracy.

    This is a fascinating discussion about sentimentality and about gender roles in Bollywood and Hollywood–I agree with Ranya that these are subjects worthy of their own posts.

    And while Bollyviewer points out gender inequities in Bollywood films, Hollywood’s treatment of women characters is often only superficially “better.” There’s an interesting book by Carol Clover entitled Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. One of the films she examines is the mainstream Hollywood film The Accused; you may remember that it involves the rape of the main character, played by Jody Foster, and her attempts to bring her rapists to justice. Clover finds that despite the apparently feminist message of the film, it consistently devalues the woman’s perspective on her own experience.

    Anyway, these are all huge topics; maybe they really require a book. It would have to be written by someone who is highly knowledgeable and articulate. Memsaab…?

  13. I noticed that your name was misspelled :-)

    I agree that women don’t fare much better in Hollywood—it’s just less blatant. Which is actually probably worse since it creeps in unnoticed and unchallenged.

    Sigh. I could not possibly tackle such a huge subject. I will stick to writing my blog where I can rely on screen caps when I get lazy.

  14. Well a fun discussion by everyone.. Bollyviewer, just one point about victims committing suicide. Sadly, that happens in real life too, in the subcontinent. But yes, most of those movies just followed a set formula without giving much thought to social consequences..

    aww Memsaab, you mean we should stop now? And we were just getting started..! Lol, no just kidding.. looking forward to many more of your “screen caps” posts..!

  15. By no means did I mean you should stop now! Carry on!!!

    I just don’t think I’m qualified to write a book on the subject :-)

  16. I’m sorry I came late to the party! (I’ve been stuck in Korean drama land for the past few days.)

    I guess I’m one of the few who really liked KMG. I enjoyed Hrithik’s “movie disease” acting and the companion “I no longer have movie diseas” acting! Krrish was both better and worse than KMG in parts. Worse for the replacement of Preity, who can act, with Priyanka, who cannot. Priyanka has never grated on my nerves so badly as she does in Krrish.

    Re: women being treated worse in Bollywood movies – I don’t think that’s true. Hollywood has just as much gratutious rape and women being killed if not more so. Plus, Hollywood does this awful consumerist thing always showing women shopping – which does not show up as often in Bollywood, no matter how many fabulous outfits ladies wear.

    re: sentimental – I’m going to plant my flag in the Spielberg haters camp. Also, Hollywood sentimentality does come across as trite 90% of the time. When it does work – Steel Magnolias, for instance – it is usually in female oriented films.

  17. better late than never, Filmi Girl :-) Lots of people liked KMG! just not me and Shweta! and that’s what makes the world go around, anyway. Trite is a good word for H’wood sentimentality. And you can join lonely me in the Spielberg haters camp!

  18. Memsaab, make that three. I couldn’t even watch Schindler’s List. I turned it off after the scene where Ben Kingsley’s character is taken off the train headed to Auschwitz. I felt we were meant to cheer his rescue–meanwhile, all the anonymous others on the train are taken to their deaths. Another filmmaker might have foregrounded our consciousness that one is being rescued while thousands aren’t, but complicated feelings aren’t what Spielberg deals in.

  19. P, we are happy being three. I love this blog; I’ve found other Spielberg haters, other Raj Kapoor haters, other Shammi lovers (just to make it clear that I don’t hate everything ;-)…

    Memsaab khush hua.

  20. Sign me up for the I-love-to-hate RK brigade. Havent seen enough Spielberg to comment on him (saw Jurassic Park eons ago, and for some reason landed up watching a Hindi dubbed version which was a riot) but should put in a good word for Koi Mil Gaya. It was a decent movie for kids and had I been 8yrs old I would have enjoyed it, too!!!!

    Re gender relations in Hollywood vs Bollywood – as an Indian who grew up watching 60’s and 70’s Bollywood on TV, I can still remember my delight at discovering that a heroine could be married to one guy and fall for another without causing a social uproar in Hollywood (It Happened One Night, 1939)! In Bollywood such things were subjects of “art cinema”! It was like women were allowed freedom, finally. Yes, I do know Hollywood is also pretty male chauvinist but on the surface at least it appears more pro-feminist – and I like pretty surfaces. :-D

    In all this talk of Hollywood vs Bollywood, forgot to congratulate you on your spreading fame. Hope memsaab will be more and more khush! :-)

  21. My brother said this weekend when I asked him if I looked okay (we were going to my niece’s graduation): “Someone of your media stature doesn’t need to worry how she looks.” He cracks me up. It was a perfect blend of mockery and pride.

  22. lol @ KMG, what a horrid movie

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