Friday, January 09, 2004

If tomorrow never comes...

Bombay Dreams was a fantastic spectacle. The music, dancing, costumes and sets were amazing. I loved the way water was used on stage. There were several scenes with a pool and another with pouring rain. There was even a traditional wet sari scene where the heroine and other dancers pranced around amidst jets of water shooting from the floor. My only complaint was that the story didn’t really grab me. It didn’t try to be anything more than a tribute to the typical Bollywood love story.

The following evening I went to see a Hindi film at Leicester Square and I realised that nothing compares to the real thing. ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ (roughly, ‘if tomorrow never comes’) is Bollywood’s latest ‘superhit’. The film is unusual in that it does not have any scenes set in India (the story happens in New York) and it is even more unusual in the way that it presents America and the Indians who live there. Many Hindi films present Western countries as being in complete moral decay. In such films, the Indians who have migrated have often abandoned all of their ‘traditional values’. They wear miniskirts, have affairs, insult their grandparents and refuse to make or eat Indian food (gasp!).

KHNH was not only very moving, it was also hilarious. It was obvious that a lot of the humour was aimed at the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) audience because many of the jokes were funnier in the English translation than they were in Hindi. Some of the funniest things were lifted from other movies like ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ and ‘Father of the Bride’ but this is how Hindi cinema usually works. It borrows from everywhere and on occasion manages to take the material to new heights. The best example of this is the Hindi version of ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ (Chachi 420 – Aunty 420). I mean why didn’t the makers of the original film think of making Sally Field’s dad fall madly in love with Robin Williams in drag!