Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm with her. The D is definitely for "deewana": Disco Dancer

I watched Disco Dancer four days ago and I still don't know what to say. What could I possibly add to the conversation about a movie like this? Teleport City and Gorilla's Lament have gleefully pointed out its joys and foibles, how it is both sugar-frosted seductively ridiculous and far too easy to make fun of. So go read their reviews and imagine me saying "Totally! What they said!"

Starburst-from-a-streetlamp highlights include:

  • I actually liked some of the music - or rather, I would happily select it out of a pre-2000-Hindi-film-music-only jukebox.
  • the dancing was delightful - I can't say it was good, exactly, but it certainly was fun. I hadn't realized disco involved so much tippy-toe prancing.
  • somehow I really enjoy Sam, even though he's a perfectly awful cartoonish villain, stumbling around with bottle and syringe and falling off his debauched bedroom's raised platform floor. I mean, I don't think the poor guy was ever very secure in his career, despite his ego-crazed bluffing - I'm sure deep down he knew he was bad, which is why he let the lady in purple do all the work.

    The very best Sam moment is when in the "Video Killed the Radio Star" song he bursts into camera from stage right and just yells. That was the single funniest moment in the movie and a new personal favorite across the board. Does anyone know what he's actually saying? To me it sounded like "YAHHH!" Maybe he thinks the camera operator had the hiccups? Whatever the reason, it is genius and I will cherish it always.
  • oh, lovely Rita, disco maid. You don't have much of a role, but at least you got some flared gold boots

    and your hair is so long that when you whip it around in your come-hither dance it fills up the screen

Let's talk clothing for a minute. I can honestly say I've seen worse, even on the Kapoor sisters alone. But Disco Dancer's costumes are a very particular kind of bad, a very enjoyable kind of bad - a kind that has a patina of age that ups its feel of what-the-hell-is-this? and seems so horrifying that it could never have been the teensiest bit real, could it? The kind that is pure pixie-stix trip. Here, for example, Jimmy is wearing a relatively acceptable outfit, given that he is a wildly popular disco star, but it is pushed over the edge by the shiny fabric...tiara, I guess I'll call it, little leaf-like bits sticking out of his forehead. To the victor goes the pleather?

There can be no finer example of completely insane costumes than those in the Krishna song. Completely unfathomable. I'd describe them, but you all know what I mean. Baby pink, baby blue, leotards, capri leggings, capes, gladiator skirts, and...black socks.

Words do not suffice.

Confession time. I wasn't properly engaged in the movie. I can't explain it. I should have been. The right ingredients were there. [Spoilers ahead!] But even the giddy song and dance and the unbelievable clothing weren't enough to sustain me through the dead mother, dead mentor, and half-arsed international disco competition (a bas le Paris!) I'm just not moved by Disco Dancer. I feel bad saying so - I feel like I've let people down by not being able to embrace this. I do so hope I get to keep my Bollywood membership card, even if I have to surrender my little cape and stop wrapping my braided pigtails in gold ribbon.

6 comments:

The Comic Project said...

Hey beth, have known that this blog existed but didn't bother to come here much. Hopped here from obi wan's and what do I see? "I am a disco dancer .. tu tu tu, zindagi mera gana...tu tu tu tu tu tuuuuuu tuuuuuu"

:-)

Obi Wan said...

No need to feel bad Beth. If I had not grown up on Disco Dancer (and its cult music by BhappiDa), and tried watching it for the first time today, I'm not sure if I would enjoy it so much, or maybe even sit through it. In fact, you will face this problem of relatability with a lot of pre-90s movies that people rave about.

Beth said...

The music is definitely the best part. I really do like the music very much and had been listening to the soundtrack before I even had the movie in my hands. Hindi disco might be a new favorite - and whenever "Aap Jaise Koi" comes up on my itunes, it gets repeated several times!

And comic project - I'm the same about your site! That's so funny - you are well-known to me, but I haven't visited much because I'm pretty lost in your world. Nice to meet you finally!

Anonymous said...

You are sooo hilarious, I read your blog once in a while, and really had to laugh today. Brought back memories of how odd I found the movie even the first time round! And the costumes! God, I think I erased them from my memory to save myself from selfcombusting. Thanks for a very funny post.

Accidental Fame Junkie said...

Disco Dancer is a very very nich film Beth. And even those who like it like it for its outrageousness rather than for its craft. So don't you worry, Disco Dancer might not be your favourite movie but you still are a true blue Bollywood Blogger!

About the baby blue-baby pink costume, costume designers in Hindi films seem to equate weird costumes to dream sequences. Was this song a dream song?

Beth said...

I'm definitely glad to have seen Disco Dancer. I'm just sad I couldn't fully embrace it. But there are some re-watchable moments, and I have already made two friends sit down and watch Sam's "Bang Bang" song. They also loved the bit where he leaps into frame and yells.