Sunday, October 14, 2007

note to self: no more David Dhawan movies: Biwi No. 1

"I know I have my moments of slumming it, but why am I in this movie?"


"Why am I playing myself in this movie, lending my star power and gravitas to this piece of crap? Didn't I have anything better to do?

And why did I start doing the black hair white beard thing? I look just fine like this, here at Parents' Day, about to listen to two very annoying movie children in a song so schmaltzy Beth will FF through it."

"Why are we in this movie?"


Why is anyone in this movie? It's so stupid. Its message - or plot points, if you prefer not to give it credit for having a message - is that cheated-on spouses should use whatever means necessary to win back their wayward partners and then forgive them. Children, other relatives, sex appeal, and business profit can all be used to try to woo your husband back from a money-grubbing model. While there may be situations in real life in which forgiveness may be a good idea, it's a different story when actions, motives, and emotions are as broad as in Biwi No. 1. Only a brain-dead dishrag would take this jerk back. Brain-dead dishrag and jerk? Coming right up!

They do the kinds of thing you expect them to do in late 1990s movies. Neither is exceptional in any way, and they have nothing to work with. Sushmita Sen inexplicably won four awards for her performance here, but I don't have anything nice to say about her either. The rest of the cast, though...poor things. At least Tiger, the family dog, is on hand to help, preventing Sushmita from completing her Karva Chauth rituals for the philandering Salman.

Way to go, Tiger! Way to behave better than any of your human owners!

Before I started watching Bollywood, I discovered that no movie (or book or tv show) was a complete waste of time if it gave you a quotable quote. Now I've expanded that a bit to include singable song or danceable dance, and Biwi No. 1 is saved from the dustbin of "avoid, yaar!" by three songs. First, "Chunari Chunari," which I already knew and loved from Monsoon Wedding. Second, there's "Mehboob Mere," a fun-sounding song in which Tabu and Anil dance around Switzerland with a fleet of backup dancers in a variety of folkloric regalia, winter gloves and boots, and weird 90s fashions.


And finally, "Hai Hai Mirchi," which I cannot for the life of me explain why I like. Among the clapping and shouting, Karisma is dressed to kill, phasers set on still-straying Salman, and Anil is dressed like this.



The first is better in Monsoon Wedding, and if the latter two were online anywhere, I'd say don't even bother with the movie.

But you know what? I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. I did. I enjoyed laughing at the stagy 90s gear. I enjoyed being outraged at the insulting implications about what wives should suffer through for horrible husbands. I enjoyed Tabu, Anil, and Saif trying to make the best of muck. I enjoyed Amitabh in his cameo mired in paterfamilias celebrity. I enjoyed the whole movie with a smug sense of knowing full well how crappy it would be and being proven correct. Maybe I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoy fashion magazines - laugh-and-point brain candy. It's good to feel smarter than fictional characters in made-up, broadly drawn stories, isn't it? Yeah!

10 comments:

Gemma said...

David Dhawan likes to brag that he's never had a script for any of his movies.

Pretty much says it all!

Aspi said...

Heh, can you imagine being married to David Dhawan and having to watch this movie? You had it easy!

Sanket Vyas said...

David Dhawan has fans - I just don't know of any. He is to Bollywood what Ed Woods was to Hollywood - except DD is just sooooooooooo much worse.

yves said...

Beth,
What IS your tolerance level??

Alan said...

The movie is goofy, but I'll still admit, it's one of my all time favorite Bollywood movies. My brain's usually fried by Friday, so a little weekend brain candy is often just the ticket. Plus Karisma is just so darn cute!

Morgan said...

I only rented this movie because the theme song kept playing on the internet Bollywood Radio station I listened to at work. I just got so used to hearing "Biwi No.1" over and over again that I figured I should see it..and I agree that it's rather goofy, but I loved it just the same. First of all, the BIZARRE dancing dollies- Mickey Mouse was never so frightening! Second of all- Chunari Chunari...also because I associate it with Monsoon Wedding (my intro to Indian Cinema), and finally because I love to see that horrible Sushmita get her A** kicked for encouraging Salman Khan's irresponsible desertion of his obviously loving family. It's like "First Wives Club" but with one incredibly awesome wife! Don't think so hard about it and just enjoy it for the kitschy jewel that it is!

ajnabi said...

I decided to watch this film after seeing Monsoon Wedding and falling in love with Chunari Chunari. Oh. My. GOSH. It sucks so badly. I can't stand the entire message (or whatever) plus there's Salman's non-acting. For me it falls entirely into the "avoid yaar" category.

Okay. I just discovered your index. I swear I'm not cyberstalking you.

Beth said...

Alan - I figured you'd have a soft spot for this one! :)

Morgan - Those dolls are CREEPY!

Ajnabi - Yeah. Haterade. Bleh. And I'm glad you're having fun with the index - that's what it's there for!

Anonymous said...

There is a whole genre of this kind of film in India. Some of the biggest actors have starred in films about cheaters, philanderers, and men who use and ogle women (Akshay Kumar seems to love being the star of this kind of film). But he has a very strong male fan base because which jackass won't like his ideal world (where he has a pure girlfriend\fiancee and at least slutty girlfriends who he is tricking into thinking he loves) reinforced by reams of films?
See: No Entry, Garam Masala, Shaadi No. 1, Masti, Hey Baby, etc., etc.

Beth said...

Anonymous - That's a very insightful point. Films depicting wish fulfillment is nothing new but I had never thought about this particular angle, and I couldn't agree more. :)