I have been fooled by official looking film festival palm leaf logos before. Haven’t you? Those palms make something look legitimate and award worthy. So when a friend sent me Gulabi Aaina (2003) and I saw those leaves on the DVD I thought it would be great. It’s a movie about drag queens who perform some Bollywood hits. How could I not love it? Unfortunatley, the palm leaves and the drag queens performing Bollywood tunes gave me high expectations that simply could not be met. The film opens with “In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke” from Umrao Jaan (1981). For those who’ve seen that, you already know that there’s no way to improve upon perfection. Enjoy Mohammed Zahur Khayyam‘s gorgeous tune from the original movie, picturized on Rekha and performed by playback singer Asha Bhosle.
Thanks to amangill for the video.
If you haven’t already seen the classic Umrao Jaan, check out what these wonderful blogs have to say:
About Gulabi Aaina:
The Pink Mirror pits two Indian drag queens against a westernized gay teenager in a battle to woo a handsome hunk. It’s a clash of the east and west. Who will win? The drag queens, who are expert in the art of seduction with their wit, innuendo and cunning or the young teenager who is saucy, slutty and sly? Underneath the campy humorous exterior, the film is an exploration of the Indian gay landscape and understanding of the deep, humanly tender bondings that exist between drag queens in India who form unique, non-patriarchal families. Using the Bollywood soap idiom of song, dance and drama and for the first time in the Indian drag queens’ very own language, Hindi, the film also explores other veiled issues related to the Indian gay community: the lurking threat of HIV/AIDS. (IMDB)
Controversy around Gulabi Aaina:
In 2003, the Indian Censor Board banned the film ‘Gulabi Aaina (The Pink Mirror)’, a film on Indian transsexuals produced and directed by Sridhar Rangayan. The censor board cited that the film was ‘vulgar and offensive’. The filmmaker appealed twice again unsuccessfully. The film still remains banned in India, but has screened at numerous festivals all over the world and won awards. The critics have appluaded it for its ‘sensitive and touching portrayal of marginalized community’ (Wikipedia)
If I’m going to watch a drag queen, it will be Queen Harish of Rajasthan, the “Dancing, Whirling Desert Drag Queen,” featured a few months back over at Rough In Here. If I’m going to watch “In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke,” it must be picturized on Rekha! I’ll also accept Queen Harish‘s intrepretation of Umrao Jaan.