Dancing Queen

March 6, 2009



There are lots of entertaining Bollywood movies. Even good ones – especially from the 70’s. But it’s not easy to be literally floored by a Bollywood movie. Too much nonsense, too many improbable turns of events, itchy cheesiness and boring lectures. Thank God for the dances: they keep me awake.

Every Bollywood movie has dance sequences that are essential to the success of the film. The biggest musical hits in India are soundtracks. So the director has to pay special attention to the dances. If he doesn’t have the budget to cast a superstar in the leading roles, a good way to boost a movie is to get a superstar to make a “guest appearance”, ie a dance number.

That’s what happened in Bunty aur Babli. Aishwarya Rai, the one and unique, the green-eyed Indian goddess, appeared for just one dance.

And what a dance.

Kajra Re, the song on which she dances, is one of the biggest hits of Indian history. The movie came out in 2005 and for the next two years we heard the song about 482 times a day. It was coming out of cars, houses, trucks, schools, restaurants, wedding gardens, political rallyes…. 

Nobody really cared about the movie. And true, there is nothing Nouvelle Vague to it. The story of two small town kids who elope to make it big and become a fearless and very funny Indian version of Bonnie and Clyde. But I just love it! Rani Mukerjee is perfect in her wannabe-Miss India character, and Abhishek Bachchan, as usual, revels in brattish roles. 

However, what shot Bunty aur Babli to fame is Aishwarya’s dance sequence. 9 1/2 minutes of sheer delight. A terrible actress but a phenomenal dancer, Aishwarya mesmerized a whole country. She wasn’t married to Abhishek yet, and was simply the biggest Bollywood superstar. The blouse she is wearing was copied by millions of girls from Lucknow to Pondicherry. I’ve watched that sequence so many times that my copy of the DVD is ruined. But not matter how many hours I spent trying to move just like her, I still look like an asparagus on heels. 

I guess what I enjoy most about this dance is that Aishwarya genuinely looks like she is having a blast. And so do Abhishek and Pop.

Here it is. Have a good weekend!


4 Responses to “Dancing Queen”

  1. Sunny Side Says:

    YESSSSSSS I am just crazy with indian dance. I endly find one indian shop rue St denis where I can buy and offer Indian movies I loved. There I can find also those I have seen in Musée Guimet. There were different cycles of indian movies with incredible documentaries, a cycle with James Ivory and his team etc.. I have offered so many times Devdas because of the “dance” ! The past two years when someone enters my house , he or she is invited to watch at the dances. Prayerfultime for me so strong specially in the temple when her dress is green and at the end when they dance together. These women are the most feminine and beautiful I have never seen. I am going to buy the one you wrote about. Many many thanks !!!

  2. jasmineandtheelephants Says:

    Thank you so much!
    I love Devdas too! When my younger sister came to see me I think she watched it 27 times. The costumes are just crazy! I love the one at the end: white sari with a red border. And the dance with Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit) is just amazing – they are the two best dancers in Bollywood, but now both married so don’t know if we’ll see them again…
    A new Devdas has just come out, it is called Dev D. and is set in our days. Apparently, Devdas is a cokehead! Can’t wait to see it…

  3. Carol Says:

    Aishwarya is not a terrible actress. She has done some wonderful work – Iruvar, Kandukondain, Chokher Bali, Raincoat, HDCSC, Devdas, Khakee, Provoked, Guru, Jodhaa Akbar to name just a handful.

    I wish people would get over her looks and dancing ability and see her talent as an actress when working with a good director.

  4. jasmineandtheelephants Says:

    Hey Carol,
    Sorry if I offended an Ash-fan!
    I didn’t see all the movies you mention, but I did see Choker Bali, Devdas, Guru and Jodhaa Akbar. I also saw her soporific Hollywood debut called Mistress of Spices. And I really think she can’t act, no matter who is directing her.
    But I forgive everything to these liquid eyes!

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