Bollywood

(Sajda, from My Name is Khan. By Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shankar Mahadevan and Richi Sharma)

I posted recently about watching Shahrukh Khan at the cinema, and I’ve also been watching a couple of his films at home.

I rented Om Shanti Om through iTunes — how very 21st century — on the strength of the tune Jag Soona Soona Lage, which I like a lot, and which features Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, a nephew of the late, great Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who did so much to bring Qawwali music to the attention of the west. Ultimately though I was pretty disappointed at the weak story-line, and the movie seemed much too long to me.

Tonight I just finished watching My Name is Khan, also with SRK in the eponymous role, this time as some kind of rain-man character, with aspergers syndrome… and a plot woven in and around 9/11 and particularly the direct effect it had afterwards on various communities living in the US. It has to be said that SRK is not going to give Dustin Hoffman any worries in the Oscars department, but it was interesting to watch a Bollywood feature that has serious intentions as well as the inevitable love-story.

Interesting also to see SRK — as a Muslim with a Hindu wife — using his platform as an actor to explore issues of inter-faith relations within and outside of the sub-continent. As an outsider it’s difficult for me to judge just how controversial this might have been, although I expect the movie’s reception would have varied quite a lot with geography.

Once again though, I think I much prefer the main tune to the actual film itself. I’m partly watching these movies to help me with understanding and speaking Hindi, but also to get an insight into the role of the film industry in India, which is frequently cited as being way bigger than Hollywood. To say that it’s huge is an obvious understatement, and it’s not just Bollywood… there’s also Kollywood, Tollywood and I recently heard from one of my students that Karnataka’s film industry, based in Mysore, is referred to as Sandalwood. :-)

Anyway here’s Jag Soona Soona Lage, also by¬†Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. (Yes, the footage is being deliberately ironic, or at least historically accurate, since this part of the film is set in the 70’s. Check the side-burns.) This movie is also notable for being the Hindi debut of Bangalore’s very lovely Deepika Padukone.


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