Friday, May 30, 2008

Pyar Kiye Jaa

Things that are not utterly fab about Pyar Kiye Jaa:

  • There is a lot of pale facial makeup on three of the four leads (everyone but Shashi). This is un-fab for several reasons: it 1) supports racist notions of beauty, 2) must be uncomfortable to wear, 3) is sometimes so thick that people look like geishas, and 4) sometimes shows up with a strange greenish tinge, making people look like the un-dead.

  • Once again, we have the distasteful filmi notion that somehow harassing=flirting and should win heroines over rather than elicit a tight slap and/or a call to the police.


That's it. Everything else about this movie is superwow to the Nth degree. I love it. I can't explain why, either: it's not the most clever movie out there, or the most romantic or funny or interesting. It has a wacky scheme, a cocky hero, snotty heroines, and interfering parents, all things I don't normally love. But somehow instead of making me roll my eyes and hit FF, all these things work perfectly here. I don't know how it works, but it does, splendidly. The film's strengths, some of which I've already tried to name here and hint at here, are like that pink marshmallow fluff from the salad bar, incarnated in characters, music, wardrobe, dialogue, and overall look and feel. PyarKiye Jaa delivers the joys that only pegged pants and groovy tunes and and romps in sunny fields can bring. It's just fab.

Anyone want more photographic proof? I thought so!

The titles communicate a ton about the tone of this movie: bright, fun, and firmly rooted in sunny, swinging aesthetics.

(Don't you want to be billed like that? "Beth of Midwest.")

Tempestuous, good-hearted heroines who sigh and giggle and flirt in exactly the right ways for mid-60s comedy leads.

It probably goes without saying that their clothes are incredible and their eyelashes gigantic.
Mumtaaz conjures up Adelaide from Guys and Dolls and Lina Lamont from Singin' in the Rain for her sweet but stupid wannabe movie star Meena without going overboard. Part of me wishes she had more screen time, but part of me is grateful the director quit while he was ahead and didn't make me weary from her squeaking and blinking.

Speaking of which, the filmmaking subplot is a hoot, and there are many affectionate, Farah Khan-esque pokes at filminess, much to my delight.


Somehow Shashi transforms Ashok, whom I suspect I would not find terribly interesting on paper, into a cutey-pie extraordinaire whose silly schemes come across as adorable rather than deceitful.

No doubt Shashi's gleeful, unwavering performance as Ashok is the second reason I adore this movie so much. He seems to have flung himself into this role with complete abandon, and it's a treat to watch him build his character with every charm and device he's got in his actorly* repertoire that could possibly contribute to the role. (He's got others, of course, like burning smoldering holes in my heart with his lust and rage in Junoon, but those are obviously the wrong cards to play in this hand, so he wisely leaves them aside.) Maybe I'm biased, but to see someone perform to equal effect his roles in The Householder, Shakespeare-Wallah, and this within just four years, and whiel in his 20s at that, is to be impressed by the wisdom and skill of the actor. Shashi really brings it in this movie (is there a more intelligent way to say "bring it"?), wooing, protesting, dancing, and all-around-dreamboat-ing with equal, context-appropriate oomph. Somehow he's never too much and always juuuuust right. As always in a multi-starrer, Shashi knows when to step back and leave room for other people shine. He also manages to convey the slightest figurative wink throughout this movie, having a blast doing something so zany and is wholly in this role without losing a sense of his other capabilities. And because I'm 99% certain that I will ever again discover such a great Shashi dance number, here are some more stills from "Kehne Ki Nahin Baat."

As reader Todd says, what a great joy is this "strangely confrontational interpretation of the 'Mashed Potato.'" Did I ever think I would see Shashi wiggling his arse and mugging ferociously for the camera? Nay, indeed, I never thought such a day would dawn.


Oh. In case you were wondering, there are a bunch of other people in this movie as well, and they are also very good.

So if all of that about Shashi is only the second reason I love this movie so, what could possibly be first? The songs. Musically, visually, choreographically, textually, whatever, they are all brilliant from start to finish and they all add immeasurably to the movie. You want lovey-dovey among the flowers and fountain? Shashi and Rajasree make super-cute in "Phool Ban Jaoonga." You want a head-wobbling, foot-tapping, synchronized clapping quartet? "Sunle." "Kisne Pukara Mujhe" swings with the nighttime longing between two young lovers separated by only a window. With bongos! Kishore Kumar and Kalpana frolic on the beach in "Dil Humne Lay Liya." Shashi flirts with the sisters over a flat tire and Mohammed Rafi's breathless pleading in "Gori Hathon Par." Kishore pretends to be a dirty old man in "Din Jawani Ke Char." And Mumtaz and Mehmood do every mod dance move you can think of in "O Meri Maina" while the rest of the cast looks on appreciatively. GAH. THEY ARE ALL SO GOOD.

S U P E R W O W.

Throw the bucket on me. I'm done.

* Term courtesy of PPCC.

9 comments:

Bollyviewer said...

Great screen caps Beth. One can never have enough screen caps of Kehne ki Nahin Baat! :-)
In the not so fab things about the movie there were Rajasree's hair-style and dresses too - she looked like a 50's heroine who had wandered into a 60's film. And of course both heroines were put in the shade by Mumtaz who didnt have her face white washed, by the way.

Bollywood said...

Omg! I love Shashi. This movie was typical swinging 60s bollyflick but fun fun fun all the way. Love the clothes and the joie de vivre that it captured. Maybe we are missing that in our lives today, the carefree attitude, possibly thats why we love these silly films.
http://bollywoodfashionpolice.blogspot.com

memsaabstory said...

One of the best films ever. Period.

Glad you have finally seen it :-)

Todd said...

Hey, thanks for the mention! Who's that fellow in the first screencap? He bears an incredible resemblance to Wayne Newton.

Beth said...

Bollyviewer - Agreed! :) As of the heroines' appearances, I can see what you're saying (but don't know anything about 50s heroines so will leave that assessment to others more knowledgeable than I). Mumtaz would have looked more fresh-faced than they do anyway, but the lack of makeup (including the gianormous eyelashes and bright pink lipstick) definitely helps her.

Bollywood - Shashilove represented! :) "Joie de vivre" is the perfect term. I was thinking about what made this movie so 60s-y to me, and that's probably it. We're too jaded and self-conscious now (collectively), perhaps.

memsaab - Amen sister!

Todd - Your line merited featuring for sure. (As do your blogs, so I hope people follow the links.)

That's Kishore Kumar, and now I will never look at him the same again.

finny said...

hey u and fellow bloggers were in news today..sunday times(india)
http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Daily/skins/TOI/navigator.asp?Daily=TOIA&login=default&AW=1212304729265#TOP

finny said...

go to the 15th page of the above website-deep focus

a ppcc representative said...

Ahh, Beth! We both seem to have had Shashi Experiences this weekend - though my Shashi was much sadder and older than yours. (But not Byronic, I promise, you'll love him.)

You capped my favorite moments from Kehne Ki Nahin Baat! Man, I need to see this movie. (And I just watched the Tamil version - I can't believe it's filmed in the same place. I'm thinking I should write a song, start a band, and then film our music video AT THAT PLACE.)

Beth said...

Thanks finny! I hadn't seen it yet.

PPCC - I can't get enough of that song. It is so fab, I say for the umpteenth time. Can I be in your band? I'll practice up on the "boom boom, huh, boom boom" part.