This time I'm evading the censors by writing about a film that already exists in DVD format rather than as just an idea in my friend's mom's head.
I hadn't yet graduated to looking at the names of the films (they're in Hindi anyway, so why bother?) or keeping track of the actors and directors (um, I don't do that for American films, I'm not about to start with people who don't even appear in the Enquirer). So I spent about a half hour trying to understand the Hindi lyrics to the film's mesmerizing theme song. I finally went to the song index in order to replay the song, and found, to my surprise, that the lyrics I was looking for were the song's title. I then googled the song's title and found -- hey, coincidence! -- the song was named after the film. Huh.
All right, so now I plan to look at the film titles first thing. For now, I can't get Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (translated as Something's Happening) out of my mind. There's a line spoken by Inara in Firefly, when she's describing the city she grew up in. "Pictures can't capture it." Corny as it sounds, that's how I feel about Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I can't describe its charm; you have to see it.
Frivolous stuff first: OMG this movie is so sexy.
The lead, Shahrukh Khan (I can't help myself, he's been in two out of the three Bollywoods I've watched, I had to learn his name) meets two women in college. They both fall in love with him (sorta like half of India and, as of last week, me). He's best friends with one, falls in love with the other. So they dance around the Scottish countryside of all places (and no, the movie isn't set there) singing the aforementioned song. (The "something" that is happening is that they're all hot for each other.)
The thing is, when they sing the title lyrics, they each have a different way of shivering with excitement. Shahrukh has this rugged vulnerability about him, all dimples and smiles and bashful turns of the head. And I'll just fail at describing the exotic dance moves that had me reeling.
Okay, next: Saris! (Yes, we're still on "sexy.") At one point, Sharukh wins a one-on-one basketball challenge against Kajol by secretly yanking at her sari to make it come undone. Then, when he high-fives her after the win, he grins and yanks it again.
What woman is immune to that kind of assertive expert sex play? Seriously, I'm surprised the population of India hasn't overtaken that of China if this is how they do sex. But the sari scene that really got to me was when the wind caught Kajol 's scarf, and Shahrukh tried to avert his eyes from her bare belly.
Changing the subject from sex for a moment, this film was yet another tender mix of the funny and sad; yet another rumination on the nature of love. In the West, we just fall in love, we don't think about what love is. In Bollywood, people dance around and sing and philosophize about it.
Stuff I noticed, in no particular order:
Okay, I know India is a sexist society. I know that. But that sexism totally doesn't come across in Bollywood (and by "Bollywood," I mean the three movies I've seen). Women are equals; in school, in parenthood, in work, in education, in marriage. In this particular film, they can even be tomboys.
At one point in the film, Shahrukh says that his father taught him to bow to only three women. (Only three? In the US, we can't even nominate one for president.) They are his mother, his wife, and the goddess Durga. Imagine an American man talking about bowing to his mom, let alone God in feminine form.
And another thing. Men get to dress in pretty colors and dance down the aisle at their weddings. None of this stodgy wearing black and standing around waiting for the bride. I love that splash of femininity in a masculine body -- androgyny is so sexy. Shahrukh, who is not exactly my type, totally grew on me with all his flirtatious mannerisms.
But today I heard about Hrithik Roshan, so my loyalties may soon be divided.