Chicago Blues

This blog is an online repertoire of my columns that run in the Indian Express, North American edition. Here I rave and rant about life, mostly as seen from the large vistas of my little world.

Location: Chicago, United States

Friday, December 21, 2007

Noise, Poise, and Saying “Om Shanti Om.”

What can one, even if one is a seriously critical movie-goer, or a light green, possibly do when Shah Rukh Khan’s six-pack abs are being spoken of in the same breath as global warming or something equally and earth-shatteringly imperative? There’s something about being blessed with desi genes that makes it hard to ignore the roll of larger-than-life Bollywood Diwali releases as they crash in on one’s television and computer screens like moths to a bonfire, and cash extravagantly in at the box-office across the world.

For months now, Bollyville has been churning out ripples of juicy hearsay around the two biggest movies of the year - Farah Khan camp’s Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone starrer “Om Shanti Om,” and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s mega launch pad for Anil Kapoor’s daughter Sonam, and Rishi Kapoor’s son Ranbir, in “Saawariya.”

There was a time, even in the not-so-recent past, where old, superhit Hindi movie songs were only exclusively available on good old tapes, rare television programs like “Chitrahaar,” or, if one was lucky, on vintage gramophone records owned by one’s grand-dads, dads, or favorite uncles. The commoners’ only link to filmi gup-shup was hidden in the pricey, glossy pages of Filmfare or Stardust. The odds of one running into stars or superstars were limited to inadvertent, opportune occasions. Of course, a lot has changed since, and one can stumble upon a film unit anywhere across the world, not to mention the bustling streets of New York; and one can buy the golden oldens, as well as a section of the new breed of cutting-edge, technology-powered, refreshingly mellifluous music, at the click of a mouse or i-button now, and catch glimpses of the actors’ glitzy lives on multiple channels and websites. Further, a bulk of fresh talent that goes on to belong to the precious music circle where the ilks of A R Rahaman and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy rule the roost, is being discovered by classy talent shows like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and Voice of India.

While a general sense of tolerance prevails around me, as I see people taking in the behind-the-scenes glimpses into the making of potential blockbusters with awe, and listening intently to new top-of-the-charts tracks on their fancy, reverberating speakers, an overwhelming feeling of anticipation taking over as they wait for the DVDs to hit the shelves, what completely gets my goat is that the trivialities that get undue attention often ruin the elegantly built-up expectations. Why, for instance, should it be important that Shah Rukh Khan has worked out for three rigorous months in order to develop the perfect abs for his new movie? Or that Deepika Padukone’s presence at a cricket match should insinuate her alleged secret admiration for one of the eleven boys? Or that Anil Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor threw lavish parties to show off the stylish debuts of their daughter and son respectively, for the cream of filmdom?

All said and done, even all the noise from my whining, and the dhamaka from stray fire-crackers this Diwali, cannot take the thunder away from the fact that “Om Shanti Om” has fetched close to $1.8 million at the U.S. box office over its opening weekend (which, according to reports, places it at a decent #11 spot on U.S. charts, even if only on 114 screens); and “Saawariya,” having lost its sparkle to this Shah Rukh Khan starrer, will still go down in history as the first ever Bollywood film to be produced by a Hollywood studio - SPE Films India, a part of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE).

While still on the topic, I might add that “Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag” has failed morbidly to revive the magic and magnitude of Sholay, and that Madhuri Dixit-Nene’s comeback vehicle, “Aaja Nachle,” is being hyped as the next big thing to Om Shanti Om. While she nurses her winter blues in Denver, and I, my cold sores in Chicago, I will still make a trip to my video-wallah shortly, to ensure I lay my hands on all these flicks, to watch them back-to-back, sitting snug in my Windy City home while my little one sleeps her beauty sleep…and quietly re-living the thrills of thronging the big-screen cinemas back at home, like back in the college-going days, for a first-day first-show, and drooling silly with just as much petticoat grace as sheer madness, over a certain King Khan’s knock-you-down screen presence.


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