Saturday, June 05, 2010

Cha Cha Cha! Bahut Accha! Award: the hubris of Beth

There I was, idly flipping through Govinda songs on youtube, because, far enough along in my current attempt to understand his appeal, Pyaar Karke Dekho, to have reached what seems to be The Dramatic Turning Point after Which Things Will Be More Serious, I still do not understand what people see in him. Call it spelunking, call it self-education, whatever. Anyway, I clicked on this song because...well, frankly, because it was sparkly. "Ho hum," I thought. "More Govinda dancing around in a somewhat insane shiny outfit on a stage with a bunch of backup women in ill-coordinated, somewhat insane shiny outfits." I thought back to a great exchange between Memsaab and Todd about how viewing countless Bollywood films has really upped our expectations and left us occasionally shocked at our own demands for what qualifies as noteworthy or delightful:

Memsaab: "What does it say about us that we don't find a child in a bad chimp suit, a man fighting a stuffed tiger, and a woman named Disco Shanti eaten by a spider enough to be a rewarding movie experience?"
Todd: "You're right, Memsaab! How many item girls have to have their heads eaten by spiders, and how many children dressed up as animals, for us to feel like we've been properly entertained? I feel like Caligula."
Even in my relative naiveté about Govinda, that's about how I feel, if you swap out their item lists for spandex pants, glittery tops, prancing in boots, and blinking stage sets. And that's what this song seemed to be. I mean, yes, to my western eyes, a 6-pointed star first reads as a star of David, so I did a double-take as he danced on one on the floor before realizing that perhaps it was just a 6-pointed star. And yes, I winced a little at the dancers' yellow gloves and wished the costume designer had left Govinda's neckerchief to the experts.

And then.

Then 1:27 happened. Behold:

("Yeh Pyaar Ka Jadoo")

[Spoilers if you haven't seen the song!]

Giant robots holding swords flanking a crucifix. That then fades into Govinda and a giant red heart. And then the unfortunately-clad dancers sway with pairs of candles like some sort of disco communion. And then the crucifix again! And then back to silver top hats and blinking lights. And then more fading hearts...and Gandhi! It's as though the director heard my "ho hum" from across the decades and sprinkled a handful of completely surprising ingredients just to teach me a thing or two.

At this point in the song, I really had no idea what to expect. I'm not sure what could have followed crucifixes, robots, and Gandhi in any kind of reasonable - or even emotionally satisfying - way. Unfortunately, the song fails to deliver any further pleasures, turning its back squarely on the WTF of the first few minutes and trotting out the old standards. Breakdancing moves? A bored audience? Hokey music notes decorating the walls like a grade school classroom? Twirling around pretending to play a really 80s-looking guitar? A shower of glitter? Snore. Wake me up when Rishi Kapoor flies across the stage dressed as Hanuman in a sweater in pursuit of a ten-headed Ranjeet.

I would love to know the backstory to this song, though.

Fortunately for me, there's a great opportunity coming up to try once again to learn more about why people love, or at least enjoy, Govinda: Totally Filmi is organizing Chichi Week starting on June 14. I will probably only be able to contribute one post, but I will certainly be reading (and watching - these should be some fantastically clip-heavy posts!) with glee. It's my challenge.

12 comments:

Ness said...

Haha, kudos on fantastically appropriate usage of "it's my challenge" (my flatmate hates me now because I made him watch that song last night and he can't get the song out of his head. GOVINDA-VIRUS!).

Basically: why do you keep torturing me with clips of awesome, so that I need to seek out the movie and own it? WHY BETH, WHY? I will get my revenge in Chi Chi Week, and you are correct: IT WILL BE CLIP HEAVY.

jensc00t said...

My reaction to this video woke up both the cat and the dog. We've all since recovered.

Anonymous said...

so you don't watch anything new?

Filmi Girl said...

I think my fave part of this post is the anonymous comment!! Ha ha ha!!

Also - CHI CHI WEEK! My Netflix is acting up but hopefully I'll be able to contribute at least one or two posts just using movies from my library.

Thirdly - I completely agree on the blase attitude that takes over once you have seen a critical mass of Bollywood. I started watching a film last night that had the Hero dress up as Jesus to make his college president think that he was having a vision and let the Hero back into the college. I turned it off because it was too boring!! Ha ha!

memsaab said...

I hate Govinda. I will always hate Govinda. There, I've said it.

sparkle said...

Govinda is one I didn't get either, until I saw Salaam-e-Ishq. He played against type in a very touching role. After that, I saw him in p[artner, and liked him in that a lot, but probably because I'd been softened up by SeI.

Aravishiva said...

Hey,

nice post

Now you can blog here

http://forum.hindifilmnews.com/index.php?cat=1#cat1

You could be part of the editorial team of www.HindiFilmNews.com

Abhishek said...

Hi Beth.For slightly bizzare and occasionally funny Indian movie reviews,please read through www.thevigilidiot.com

He's pretty funny and i'm sure you'll love his drawings.

Banno said...

Noooo, please, Beth, Memsaab, you must love Govinda. He's crazy.

Upasana said...

Nice Blog! Feel free to visit mine at
http://pop-corn-diaries.blogspot.com/

namitha said...

I appreciate these comments. From http://www.rosesandgifts.com

Anonymous said...

Beth, are you losing Bolly-steam? No post in a month.... Sigh. Hope you'll be back soon.