Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bollywood college sign inventory

Regular readers of this blog will know that I, like many other Bollywatchers, quite enjoy the various signs held up by adoring crowds in any "cultural event," dance, or other performance at any filmi college. Often these signs are hand-lettered, giving them an air of being made up by crew and extras at the last possible second - although not, mysteriously, as though they were made by actual high school students.

(Side note: I do not really understand what "college" means in Bollywood. These institutions look like and seem to function like a US high school, what with their required classes, social events, cliques, cheerleaders, and friendship days. Yet much of the time the students look like they are too old for high school - not that that stopped anyone on 90210, granted - and occasionally someone transfers into one from someplace like Oxford University. Anyone want to weigh in on this?)

Submissions are very, very welcome and highly encouraged. Additions will be ongoing, but I'll put them all right here in this post so you always know where to look - because you will be compelled to check back, because once you start thinking about hand-painted signs in enthusiastic crowds, it's hard to stop.

Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon (added November 20, 2005)
Let us begin with MPKDH because I rewatched it yesterday - and it has the distinction of vocalizing the very finest sign ever, which is held up for Tina in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and reads simply NORTH SOUTH EAST WEST. Students here, before Kareena get going, are yelling "North, south, east, or west, Sophiya [their college] is the best!" It is awesome. Ideally I'd start with KKHH, as it is the first place I noticed this phenomenon, but I lent it to someone, so that will have to wait - unless someone else would like to submit for it.

As the movie opens, girls on skates go by holding a banner that says LAST DAY OF COLLEGE, so that we know why Kareena has so much spare time to run around with Hrithik and Abhishek.

Now, on to the "farewell function" where Kareena and her backup girls seranade the crowd with "Papa Ki Pari":
The opening pan of the auditorium indicates that this is a rich stash indeed - but my pause doesn't really let me see any of them, so on we go, hoping for closer views during the song. And we are rewarded.
CHEE BOYZ
DUMP HIM
WE SIZZLE
IT'S OUR WORLD
WE LOVE OUR TEACHERS
SANJANA
(Kareena's character's name)
GUYS R FREAKS
MOVE IT
LOVE BOMBS
LIFE IS US
GET GORGEOUS


There were many more that I just couldn't quite read, so if anyone else can, please do let me know. There are two mystery signs that have two lines of text. On the first one, the top line ends in 10% and the bottom in DEVILS. No idea what that's about. Another says MARRIAGE on the top line, with the text on the bottom consisting of a lot of Os, I think, perhaps NOOOOOOOOO, which is seriously funny and fits the song to boot.

A note on some non-hand-lettered items in the crowd: there are a lot of pennants in this scene too, but the ones I could read just say the name of the college on them, as do two very large banners in the background. The teachers also hold up a big banner that says We Love our Students, a nice touch for the end of the year, I thought. You know as soon as the kids are gone, they're going to go get smashed, even though most of them are nuns.

Favorite: WE SIZZLE - this is an oft-implied attitude in Bollywood, the halls of a high school, your local watering hole, etc., and it is gratifying to see it stated clearly for once. It also takes a lot of guts to make a statement like that. Snaps!

Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (added December 11, 2005)
Regular readers of this site will know that I love this movie muchly (so much I have already reflected on it twice, more eloquently here), so I am especially sad to say that there are no signs in the dance competition. And now that I've watched it with sign-inventorying in mind, I am not entirely sure it is in fact a college competition - is it just a Simla youth show or something? The gym that "terriffic Tina" rehearses in does not identify a school (or any other institution) either. Next time I watch the whole movie I will make sure to note as much of the setup for this as I can, but various flipping back and forth with the remote this morning left me with nothing.

additional update to Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (added December 12, 2005)
It's not at a college at all. It's a "youth festival." But if there's one thing we've learned from Bollywood (and, of course, there are many), it's that crowds of youth watching dancing like to hold up hand-lettered, often very silly signs. I will forgive the filmmakers here because I love the movie so much, but this is a definite strike against them.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (added January 15, 2006)
Okay, sorry, it's KKHH instead of Main Hoon Na. But it's fitting, since it's where my love of signs began.

We are helpfully told that this is ST XAVIER'S COLLEGE FESTIVAL. Good to know. The signs in the audience that I could actually make out were surprisingly unvaried and contained a shocking lack of apostrophes.
WE LOVE WILSON and LOVE XAVIERS, but with a heart instead of the O in LOVE
COME ON XAVIERS
BOO XAVIERS
STEPHENS
STEPHENS WILL WIN
Stop No More Go HOME XAVIERS
STUDY HARD PARTY HARDER XAVIERS

and, of course, the classic NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST, which I appreciate in a whole new way now that I realize the directions are listed as though one were traveling around the compass, not just pairing them in opposites.

There were also some rogue signs with just one block letter on them - the ones I caught were V, C, R, and Y. Maybe I, T, and O popped out to get a souvenir t-shirt.

See? Really not that interesting. I did notice one other really choice thing about the performance space. In addition to the mural of Elvis, which I had delighted in before, I saw one for the Beatles. SRK does not pose in front of it, though, sadly, and as far as I could tell it just has the band name without pictures. But it's framed nicely in a gothic-y arch, taking the place of tracery and a stained glass window.

next up: Main Hoon Na - I promise!

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