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!