So, I really got into Bollywood around the same time I got into Korean Dramas back in 2004 through one of our local stations. Prior to that, I’d probably seen a movie or two but have no memory of what they were nor was I particularly impressed but believe it or not, I can pinpoint the exact scene that later piqued my interest in Hindi films.
So on a bored day, while flipping through channels, I came across this song on, I believe, the IFC Channel, somewhere around the 2 minute mark which I later discovered is universally panned as one of the worst parts of any song in the history of Hindi cinema. I guess there’s no accounting for taste, huh?
I stuck with it and watched Lagaan to the end then checked the schedule to find out when next it would air then watched the 4-hour movie (1.5 hours is a freaking cricket match) from beginning to the end and utterly loved it. Then I watched Fire and then Monsoon Wedding and before I realized it, my Saturday lunches always came with a side of Bollywood.
What are Bollywood movies? As many people might know, India is the largest producer of films in the world and Bollywood is the largest part of it. Essentially, Bollywood just refers to Hindi-language films. So even though watching Fire and Monsoon Wedding led me to further explore Indian movies, neither of them are Bollywood films as they are both in English.
Bollywood movies are mostly musicals but not in the same sense as something like Evita where the movie is almost entirely sung but more like Chicago or High School Musical with regular dialogue and little music videos placed in at intervals. Generally, the videos are used to move the story along so instead of having a montage like you would in a Hollywood movie, they flirt on snow capped mountains or dance around trees… is what a snarky person would say. Many of them are usually huge dance productions and are very often the highlight or only good part of the movie e.g. Mujhse Shaadi Karogi. So in other words, they can be pretty great.
So enough of this boring stuff. Even though I’ve lost most of my interest in Bollywood in the last few years (I still watch a few movies each year), I think that a Kdrama fan who’s got time on their hands could spend it quite enjoyably watching a Bollywood movie.
Korean Dramas and Bollywood are similar in that they are both often centered on love. Perhaps a regular movie goer might find it annoying to watch a 3 hour movie centered on love but Kdrama fans are used to 16 hour-long stories so this should easy, right? The emotion, the pain, the angst, the yearning, the over the top scenarios, the external forces keeping the couple apart should feel familiar to a kdrama fan. As well as the dragginess, cheesiness and slap stick comedy (if it applies). And as for kisses? Well, if you thought kdrama kisses were too chaste, wait till you watch Bollywood movies where you most likely wouldn’t find one. I made my peace with them even though I’m glad that more and more movies feature kisses these days.
But then again, how sweet is it to be able to watch a romantic movie and feel those butterflies even though the couple doesn’t kiss? Perhaps it’s the kind of story that heads straight for your heart and captures it.
At first, I must admit to finding some songs boring/irritating/a waste of time and would skip them and feel like I didn’t lose anything and to be honest, there some movies where this is needed such as Naach which I like except for the songs which are just horrendous. But there are some that you find yourself watching the songs over and over again like Kal Ho Naa Ho.
So I’m going to try to do a series on my favorite movies, many of which a newbie can quite enjoy. The first is Saathiya.
A Bollywood fan might smirk because Saathiya is actually the Hindi version of what’s considered the far superior Alaipayuthey. Well, I have not seen Alaipayuthey so I can’t really comment on that but what I do know is that Saathiya is awesome!
Saathiya is a 2002 movie starring Rani Mukherji and Vivek Oberoi. It’s a love story (duh) centered around a couple struggling to maintain a relationship despite the differences in their personalities, class, attitudes and expectations. The story is told through flashbacks and opens with Aditya (Vivek Oberoi) and his friends frantically searching for Suhani (Rani Mukerji) then cuts to the scene of where they first met two years earlier.
Suhani is a headstrong medical student from a low income household who doesn’t have time for games while Aditya is a computer science student who likes to have fun. Their first meeting is at a wedding and is also the first song of the movie.
During a train ride, Aditya spots Suhani on a train moving in the opposite direction and their courtship begins.
Courtship leads to love but problems arise from their class differences. Normally, this is where the bulk of the movie’s drama would be but that’s not really the point of this movie. It’s about the issues that arise when a couple chooses to follow their compulsion to love and the struggles to build a healthy and fulfilling relationship from that.
As always, all marriages have their honeymoon period and Suhani’s and Aditya’s is no different.
But what happens when a headstrong girl who takes everything seriously and a fun loving guy who’d rather laugh his way through problems choose to live together? And what if we surround them with parent opposition, money problems and other issues?
The movies also features their large cast of friends who provide comedy and warmth throughout the film.
There’s also a cameo from one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, Shah Rukh Khan, whose storyline occurs in the present. The couple’s two year relationship story is told through flashbacks as Aditya frankly searches for his missing wife.
One downside is that they fall in love very quickly. Actually, Aditya falls in love at first sight and after playing hard to get for a while, Suhani follows suit. I would have preferred for their love story to evolve more organically, but I still liked it. Other than that, the last song is weirdly placed in this movie. Right after the couple has their biggest fight, we are suddenly taken to an item number with some chick dancing around in her bra. What da hell? Even though the song is really an extension of their fight, it feels so out of place.
In the movie world, the road to true love is never smooth but despite knowing that, I did find the ending a little too neat and cheesy. However, it’s a romance movie and perhaps the alternative would have left a bad taste in my mouth. All in all, I found this a well done movie and something a non-Bollywood fan would like because it’s not too cheesy, not too escapist, realistic, well-shot and acted and tells a moving story of love and relationships. Aye Udi Udi.
If you like this, you might also enjoy: Chalte Chalte (Didn’t like it); Yuva (Liked it); Love Aaj Kal (Liked it); Just Married (Okay); Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Loved the second half).