Lagaan: Elizabeth, More Than Just A Gori Extra

Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), She’s more than just a gori extra.

With the encouragement of theBollywoodFan, I decided to contribute to his Lagaan Week to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the release of the epic film.  In order to develop something that would resemble a worthwhile blog post, I knew I had to re-watch Lagaan, since it had been a couple of years since I’d last seen it.  It was my third time seeing Lagaan, and I enjoyed it even more than I did the first 2 viewings, which I believe speaks to the quality of the film.  In case you don’t already know, Lagaan is about Indian villagers challenged by some British imperialists to a game of cricket, and if the villagers win they would not have to pay the Brits the unfair land taxes, known as Lagaan.   Captain Andrew Russell (Paul Blackthorne) is a one-dimensional scoundrel, and this cruel man offers a wager he believe the Indians will never win.  His naive, yet kind-hearted sister, Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley),  arrives to India and begins to take in the scenes with a curious and open mind.  I love seeing  white people pop up in Indian films, since I can pretend they are me!  I can also think  hey, I can one day break into the Indian Film Industry, see, there’s a white person too! So with this delusional thinking, naturally I was fascinated to see Elizabeth.

Despite not knowing Hindi, she quickly sizes things up and all too soon she witnesses her brother’s  maniacal ways.

I do enjoy seeing the word “Whitey” it the subtitles, so I show it to you a lot in this post, here’s a start:

Lagaan (2001) is the movie that taught me about cricket, a little game I’d previously called gilli danda back in my village in India.

Wait, sorry, no village, no India, I keep loosing track that I’m from America and am not Indian, please pardon me.  When I was in contact with theBollywoodFan about Lagaan week, I said I’d like to take the angle of writing about Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), the gori extra since I’m always making note of my white sisters surfacing in Bollywood films;  theBollywoodFan, wise beyond his years, calmly replied, “She’s more than a gori extra,” and I realized he was right!  She is more than your typical gori extra, she not only plays a bigger role, but she also serves to bridge the cultural gap between the different groups, and helps us think, Hey, wait just one minute, not all these Britishers are so bad after all.  When the villagers are watching the game of cricket, Bhuvan ends up catching a ball out in the field which leads to a confrontation with some of the British players, that ultimately develops into the bet being made over the cricket game and the land tax.

Elizabeth realized this bet is unfair since the villagers are sure to lose a game they don’t know when pitted against people who have a full understanding and longtime experience with the game, not to mention endless leisure hours to play since the Indians are toiling away to make them rich.  She sets out to try to right her brother’s wrong by helping the villagers understand the finer points of the game.

So the teaching and leaning begins…

Recruitment: Initially Elizabeth teaches a small group the game, but there’s still the obstacle of establishing a full team who will be up for the extreme challenge.  Finally a diverse group of people are gathered from the village and surrounding areas since they have a common interest in eliminating the unfair tax by their common enemy, the British.

I learned all I need to know about cricket here:

Jealousy: Gauri (Gracy Singh) is a young village woman who has her eye on Bhuvan so it follows that she starts to get concerned about all the time he spends with the white memsahib.

Cultural exchange: Elizabeth helps to teach some of the finer points of cricket to the villagers, and in turn Bhuvan teaches her something about the Hindu legend of Radha & Krishna.


Elizabeth is enamoured by the festival and is even further taken in by Dandiya Raas number  Kaise Na Jale with music by A.R.  Rahman, playback singers Asha Bhonsle,  Udit Narayan, Vaishali.

Confession: As it turns out, Gauri wasn’t far off on her women’s intuition because Elizabeth, who has managed to learn Hindi in a few days, confesses her pyaar love for Bhuvan.  Luckily she’s able to save face since the part where she really lays it on the line is in English, so Bhuvan doesn’t understand, yet I think he may suspect it.

Fantasy: The tune O Rey Chori,  (playback singers Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Vasundhara Das) includes Elizabeth’s fantasy of what it would be like if Bhuvan was in her British world, or if she was in his Hindustani duniya.


Elizabeth is caught: A double crossing villager with an ulterior motive  informs Captain Russell that his sister is helping the villagers to learn cricket.  With shame, I admit I did find Captain Russell quite handsome, despite his evil deeds. Do you?

If I can answer for Elizabeth here, I’d tell her brother that it would be the delicious food and the Indian Film Industry that would allow her to turn against her brother, but I suspect she may say something about the cool Dandiya Raas dances and doing the right thing in the face of injustice.
The BIG Game: The stakes are high, and Aamir Khan’s Bhuvan conveys this beautifully here.  I believe Khan is very talented and expressing emotion through his eye, and this is a perfect example. Dekh!  I bet you’re even crying looking at the photos.  I am.



Elizabeth watches the game, worried about the outcome, rooting all the while for the villagers.  I suppose in Indian English one would say she was chewing her brains and taking much tension isn’t it?  In case you haven’t seen Lagaan and don’t know the outcome of the game *SPOILER ALTER*

There are winners and losers. Elizabeth sees the joyful embrace between Bhuvan and Gauri at the end of the match, and instantly understands that her fantasy will never be a reality.

Bittersweet ending: She can’t have Bhuvan, but she can play Radha to his Krishna.

Finally, you may be wondering how all those gori cheerleaders made their way to India, and I’m here to tell you that  Bhuvan and Lagaan are the reason.  When Elizabeth returned to England, she started the  first cricket cheerleading squad, and there after tradition has held that all IPL cheerleaders are to be white only.

And speaking of Lagaan and the IPL, Did you see A. R. Rahman perform at the 2010 closing ceremonies?   

After exploring the part of Elizabeth in Laagan, I am tempted to do a series on the pantheon of gori extra patron saints of Bollywood.

My personal favorite is the character Christina ( Barbara Lindley) from  Purab Aur Paschim (1970).

Opps! sorry, she’s been objectified as only a gori cold be, let me get a better picture of her….Ah, here, that’s better!

And then there’s Katherine (Antonia Bernath) in  Kisna: The Warrior Poet (2005)-yeah, I admit I saw it! So WHAT!?!

Sue McKinley (Alice Patten) of Rang De Basanti (2006); and most recently Sarah (Sarah Thompson) of Raagneeti (2010).

And like all good Bollywood films, allow me to leave you with some inspiration, courtesy of Bhuvan…and the moral of the story is:

This post was so long, time to roll the credits…

For more on Third Annual Lagaan Week: Ninth Anniversary Special, click over to theBollywoodFan-ji’s blog.

Fiza (2000)

Fiza (2000) is concisely described at IMDB here: In 1993 Fiza’s brother disappears during the riots in Mumbai. In 1999 Fiza is tired of waiting and goes looking for him. But there’s a little more to it than this, since when he’s gone he becomes a TERRORIST!  And this makes me think, can I write the word terrorist without being put on some kind of a watch list?  I’ll let you know.  I suppose the movie’s poster hints at what happened to the lost brother.

Fiza (Hindi: फ़िज़, Urdu: ﻓﻀﺎ) is a 2000 Indian film written and directed by Khalid Mohammed.  The film stars Karisma Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan and Jaya Bachchan. Although the film failed at the box office, it was well acclaimed by critics. Originally Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan were supposed to have cameo appearances, but their scenes were removed due to considerations about the length of the running time. The film is about Fiza (Karisma Kapoor), whose brother, Amaan (Hrithik Roshan), disappears during the 1993 Mumbai riots. Fiza and her mother Nishatbi (Jaya Bachchan) desperately hold on to the hope that one day he will return. However, six years after his disappearance, Fiza, fed up with living with uncertainty, resolves to go in search of her brother. Driven by her mother Nishatbi’s fervent hope and her own determination, Fiza decides to use whatever means she can—the law, media, even politicians—to find her brother, which brings her into contact with various characters and situations.  When she does find him, to her horror she sees that he has joined a terrorist group!!!!! (source)

One of the first gorgeous songs in the film is Piya Haji Ali by A.R. Rahman (who will be embarking on a world tour this year) which plays as we see the stunning views of  Haji Ali Dargah Mosque in Mumbai. All the music from the film is composed by Anu Malik.

The Filmfare for Best Actress went to Karisma Kapoor, and Best Supporting Actress went to Jaya Bachchan for their performances in Fiza. I always enjoy the intensity Karisma Kapoor brings to her characters, and for my tastes, the more hysterical the better!  Kapoor has plenty of opportunities to be her most animated and outraged best in portraying Fiza.

Fiza is fietsy and surly as it is, but she’s put on edge even more than usual since the ’93 bombings, and the fact that her brother has mysteriously vanished.  Her mother (Jaya) processes her grief over her missing son differently than Fiza and she’s trapped somewhere between denial and faith, but Fiza’s frustrations are manifested in her acting out more than is acceptable for a nice Muslim girl.  Her mom gently warns her about this…

Fiza sometimes goes out to the club and on one occasion she seems to attempt to pick a fight through a dance. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, but I’m sorry to report that I think this was a girl fight over a guy.  I hate to see the ladies stoop so low, but hota hai.

Here she is in the club about to show her dance/fight moves. It’s like she’s a hybrid Capoeira master, Bollywood style. It’s one of those item numbers that makes you think What on earth am I watching and why? In other words the type I love most! Not a lot of people know this, but I choreographed this number:

Fiza has a fiery personality as it is, but too often she is pushed to the limit and her very sharp tongue and tantrums are justified.  There are some scoundrels who follow her making lewd comments and generally sexually harass her;  as they say in India they are eve teasing. Isn’t that a crazy term, twisting the fault back to the woman?

Idiots!  They go to a further level at  taunt her with threats of throwing some acid at her.   Look how casually these n’er do wells toss up the acid bottle here:Well, boys will be boys afterall, (kidding) and nobody messes with the Fiza, and she just snatches the  bottle of acid, taking control of the situation!

If Fiza can speak her mind in the face of extreme harassment, have cool nightclub dance challenges, can’t she go to infiltrate some top-secret terrorist group to try to find her missing brother? YES SHE CAN! So she sheds her salwar kameez and puts on her polar fleece jacket, some acid wash jeans, and her backpack and heads Kashmir or where ever they train terrorists, to handle things! Does she have time to buy a puppet?  NO!

After slipping on her high waisted, acid wash jeans, Fiza happens upon Shusmita Sen grooving out to Mehboob Mere, with playback singers Sunidhi Chauhan and Karsan Sargathia.  I was listening to  Curry Smuggler’s podcast last week, and they made reference to the film, which reminded me that in my ever-growing backlog of movie screen caps, I had several images from Fiza.  This was reminder enough to help get to posting about it. It’s the eclectic mash-up of  Mehboob Mere with Slave 4 U by Britney Spears (which was based on Nasty Girl by Vanity 6 ) that reminded me to do this post.  You can find that HERE: episode 2 track 4.

Fast forward to find that Fiza locates her radicalized brother outside of a gift shop.

Fiza brings her brother back to Mumbai, but he’s different, sort of stressed out and tense since he’s an undercover terrorist! Mom tries to help him out by taking him to a relaxation/friendship group in the park called the Ha Hi Hi club, lead by Johnny Lever. I think a better naam for the club would have been The LOL club.

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the more peculiar screen caps I found from Fiza and I’d love to hear about your impressions and memories of the film.  I will always take a screen cap when I see the word melodious, so I’ll leave you with this one from Fiza:

Sita-ji’s favorite Bollywood films from 2000-2009

Namaste yaar!  As 2010 dawns, I’d like to offer up some of my favorite films from the past decade. Technically I should wait until 2011 to count a full decade, but I’m doing it anyway.  I waiver from the blog’s subject of Bollywood quite often, but here I will try to focus on pure Bollywood filums, no Tollywood, Kollywood, no art house or parallel cinema, only sirf what is what I consider pure Bollywood. Shall we begin?

~ 2000 ~

Up for my nomination were Alaipayuthey (2000) but I disqualified it since it’s Tamil, and this is Bollywood decade in review, not Kollywood. I know it was remade into Saathiya in Hindi later, but not in 2000. I also enjoyed Zubeidaa (2000) and Hey Ram (2000) but those are both too art house, so disqualified! I almost chose Dhadkan (2000) because I love how crazy Sunil Shetty was in that movie. I ended up choosing Fiza (2000) because I like how Karisma Kapoor changes into some acid washed jeans to TCB (take care of business!) and heads to the northern border to go and search for her once sweet brother who has turned into a wayward terrorist. Don’t you hate when that happens? I mean the terrorism thing as well as acid washed jeans.

Plus, the word melodious was used in the film, so that automatically catapults it to the top of my list:

~ 2001 ~

So much to choose from in 2001.  My first choice would be 2001 Kandukondain Kandukondain (2001), but alas it’s Tamil, so disqualified. I also loved  Lagaan (2001), but that’s an obvious choice.  I have a soft spot for the especially freaky and melodramatic Lajja (2001), but it’s not the best of 2001.  One of my all time favorites is Chandni Bar (2001), but it’s parallel cinema, not Bollywood, so I choose the fantastic partition drama, Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001) starring Sunny DeolAmisha Patel, and Amrish Puri. I can still hear Amrish Puri’s character screaming, and picture  Amisha Patel’s character learning how to fold Sunny Deol’s turban.

Plus I really like the tune Main Nikla Gaddi Leke.

~ 2002 ~

Well the clear choice here could be the beautiful Devdas with all of Aishwarya and Madhuri’s lovely dancing,  and Shahrukh Khan’s fantastic overacting. And speaking of Aishwarya and 2002, I adored Chokher Bali, but Tagore and high brow Bengali cinema are not Bollywood, so I nominate Shakti – The Power (2002) starring Karisma KapoorNana Patekar, with an extended appearance with Shahrukh Khan, where he bleeds from the mouth like he does so often in films. Nana and Karisma freak out in this film like Amrish Puri to the 10th power, which means it’s ultra dramatic. Have you seen this one?  Do you remember the drama? I can still taste it!

~ 2003 ~

Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) has a special place in my heart since it was one of my first Bollywood films, but I’d like to nominate Pinjar (2003) as my favorite for that year, since like I said above, I love a good Partition movie, and though it’s nearly a parallel cinema movie, it’s just Bollywood enough to count. Urmila Matondkar and Manoj Bajpai and Sanjay Suri are fantastic, and like all good movies, it still lurks in my memory.  Head over to Philip’sFil-ums for an excellent examination of  Pinjar.

~ 2004 ~

I loved Veer-Zaara (2004) and Swades (2004) as well as  Raincoat (2004) where Ajay Devgan and Aishwarya Rai do a magnificent job, but my rule says no parallel cinema, so for 2004 I offer up Ek Hasina Thi (2004), though nearly parallel cinema, it’s more mainstream Bollywood than Raincoat. I still remember what Urmila Matondkar‘s character did to  Saif Ali Khan‘s character, and if you don’t know what I’m referring to, see the film! You can also go over to Bollywood Deewana’s blog to see a slick review of the film.

~ 2005 ~

Water (2005) is a beautifully sad film but doesn’t count as Bollywood since it’s directed by NRI Canadian, Deepa Mehta. The other films from 2005 that stand out for me are Iqbal (2005) and Parineeta (2005), but for my decade review, I will award Ramji Londonwaley (2005) as my favorite.  Southie star Madhavan (wasn’t he fabulous in 3 Idiots?), and his charisma made this movie a favorite for me.

~ 2006 ~

If I could choose a Telugu movie for the best of 2006, it would be Bommarillu (2005), but it’s Bollywood, not Tollywood, so nahin! 2006 was a good film year for me; I loved FanaaOmkara, and Guru, but choose to mominate the slightly lesser known Taxi Number 9211 (2006) for the fantastic chemistry  John Abraham and Nana Patekar delivered in their lead roles, plus it taught me a new word in Hindi: gyarah, eleven!  Now if it has John Abraham, Nicki’s  blog (Hmong Chick who loves Indian Cinema) will have covered it, DEKH!

~ 2007 ~

Jab We Met ,  Namastey London,  and Om Shanti Om, were my favorites from 2007.  Wait let’s not forget Ta Ra Rum Pum…just kidding! :)  A lesser known film released that year  which I loved was Traffic Signal (2007). OK, technically it’s parallel cinema since it’s directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, but I love Kunal Khemu and Konkona Sen Sharma‘s work in the film, so it won! Read more about the film HERE at Ajnabi’s blog, Paisa Vasool.

~ 2008 ~


Mumbai Meri Jaan (2008 ) is compelling and thought-provoking, while Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008) is a sweet, feel-good, Bollywood film on the other end of the spectrum and I loved them both. I also thoroughly enjoyed the fresh style of Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na (2008) and the award-winning lush epic, Jodhaa Akbar (2008).  For 2008, I will call Ghajini (2008) the best of the best.  Maybe I’ll do a post one day to tell you all the reasons I enjoyed Ghajini, but if you’re reading this blog, no doubt you’ve probably already seen the film and know how spectacular it is.  It has all the key ingredients of a great Bollywood film: orphans, mistaken identity, super evil bad guys,  parking ramp fights, flash backs, unrequited love, mental illness, organ harvesting, A. R. Rahman soundtrack, fantastic acting, and of course a scene with balloons and a birthday cake! Huppy burday to ewe, Huppy burday to ewe…

Listen to the beautiful song form the film, Guzarish with playback singer Sonu Nigam and music by the incomparable A. R. Rahman maybe my favorite of the decade:

lyrics translated by TheBollywoodFan HERE.

~ 2009 ~

Dosto, finally we come to 2009!  What a filmi feast we have had this year.  Magadheera (2009) the  epic blockbuster would win my nomination, but it’s Telugu language is not Hindi, na?  I saw this in the theater without subtitles and it still was my favorite of the year.  I have a friend who also speaks no Telugu who saw it in the theater 4 times, THAT’S how great it is.  I you’re interested in Magadheera, read what Post-Punk Cinema Club said about it  HERE.  Billu Barber was so sweet and fun,  Kaminay (2009) was a fabulous film, but too parallel cinema to be pure Bollywood.  And let’s not forget Kambakkht Ishq, just kidding. I’m fresh off seeing the smashing  3 Idiots, which I think is going to be considered the best Bollywood film of 2009 with reason, but I will instead chose Delhi 6 (2009) for my favorite. The gorgeous music and breathtaking scenes of Delhi were absolutely wonderful, and the plot twists were unconventional.  I particularly enjoyed all the Ramayana references throughout the film as well as the metaphysical messages.  Delhi 6 still resonates in my mind, for its beautiful layered, often spiritually uplifting messages about how we should relate to each other. Read Darshit’s insightful review of Delhi 6 HERE.   Now I’ll leave you with one of the beautiful and uplifting songs from the film, Masakali, with playback singer Mohit Chauhan, and music by A.R. Rahman, of course:

Here are other Bollywood bloggers lists of best  and worst of 2009 or of the decade: TheBollywoodFan; Apni East India Company; So They Dance; Filmi Girl. If I missed you let me know and I’ll link you in.  Happy Hew Year!  See you next year dosto!

“Mujhe Rang De” A. R. Rahman + Asha + Tabu = Fantastic!

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Sometimes there’s just one song that makes a movie for me and that’s the case with “Mujhe Rang De” from Thakshak (1999). I don’t want to seem like a Tabu fanatic, so I will try and be a bit discrete and post all the screen captures I took from the movie in the miniturized gallery form. If you want to indulge your own Tabusiasm (Tabu enthusiasm), please click on the smaller gallery pictures below to get a better look at them.

Here’s the fantastic, hypnotic “Mujhe Rang De” picturized on Tabu, dancing to the choreography of Ganesh Acharya, with playback singer Asha Bhosle, and music by A. R. Rahman. I wish I could also give credit to the wonderful back up dancers, and the set and costume designers. Enjoy!

And since I am a fan of Indian talent shows and contestant Anwesha Datta Gupta, check out her version here, with one of my favorites, Shreya Ghosal, on the judging panel:

Tabu speaks very well about our relationship with Bollywood here:


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Slumdog Millionaire (2008) It’s not Bollywood, but it stars Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan!

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288644Just what does this remind you of: tragic mothers, slum scenes, orphans, trains, police interrogations, a love story, coincidences galore, super bad gangsters, great music, and references to Amitabh Bachchan. Sounds like Bollywood, hai na? Well almost. In my recent drift to not Bollywood but almost, (The Pool, Heat and Dust) I followed the recommendation of Renegade Eye to go check out Slumdog Millionaire (2008). The movie is based on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup. Shri Swarup-ji’s website has lots of great information about book’s transformation into a movie. From an interview with the film’s director, Danny Boyle:

‘It’s called ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’, It’s based on a true story, and it’s about a kid from the slums of Mumbai, who has nothing – he’s ill educated, he’s illiterate – and he goes on the Hindi version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ and wins it. And they can’t believe that he’s done it. They think he’s cheated. They think he’s getting signals from embedded chips in his body, or that there are people coughing in the audience, but he won it. ‘What’s clever about the film is that the structure shows you how he knows the answers. Certain things have happened to him in his life and they happen to ask questions about those things. But the real reason he’s on the show is to get in touch with the girl he loves but has lost in the chaos of Mumbai, and all he knows is that she watches the show religiously. So he’s not even there to win the money, but that’s when you win I suppose, when you’re not even trying.’ (source)

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the premier of the film, and just like when I watched  The Pool ( 2008 ) in a theater recently, I was surprized that this movie had some Bollywood stars, but this time I didn’t cry out “Anil Kapoor! Irfan Khan!” when I saw my familiar Bollywood friends on the big screen and avoided being shushed. Phew! There are several other fantastic Bollywood character actors in this film that my Indian Film Industry fans will recognize, like the inspector, Saurabh Shukla. I love a film on the big screen, but there are definately perks to watching at home where horrific scenes can be muted or fast forwarded and this film has a couple of those, so be preparred. I nearly walked out, but was glad I stuck it out and stayed. I loved the tribute to Amitabh Bachchan within the film and I wonder if Amit-ji has seen it. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s really a very sweet honor paid to Mr. Bachchan and I’d love to hear his reposnse to it. Ifran Khan is also fantastic as the police inspector, but who am I to say since I love all his work.

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Anil Kapoor plays an arrogant host wearing a sleazy suit. He’s perfect! Get a taste of that HERE.

I LOVE the song Paper Planes by M.I.A. (Maya Arulpragasam), and was so excited that it popped up in this film, look:

lyrics

Bollywood popped up again in a scene where people were watching Aaj Ki Raat from Don (2006) with music by Shankar-Eshaan-Loy and playback singers Alisha Chinoi, Mahalakshmi, and Sonu Nigam. Since I was in an art house theater I didn’t scream out, “Hey that’s Priyanka from Don!” But I thought that! I also thought “Aaj ki raat means tonight, do you people know THAT!?”

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Just like many of the best movies India has to offer, this one has a score written by A.R. Rahman. Listen!

During the film I thought how it reminded me Millions (2004), and no wonder, because when I went home and looked up Danny Boyle, I saw that he also directed the sweet and beautiful Millions.

I’ve given you plenty of reasons to see this film, and if you’d like to see more, watch the Slumdog trailer.

p.s. Stop over the MemsaabStory for a review of the film.

p.p.s.  I had wondered about Amitabh’s reaction to his tribute in the film, which he has since commeted about in his blog, which I first read about in an article by Emily Wax.  Washington Post Foreign Service writer Emily Wax’s insightful article, Protests & Praise “Slumdog’s’  Mumbai Realism is Divisive contained a bit of Amitabh’s reaction:

 

One of India’s iconic Hindi film heroes, Amitabh Bachchan, whose likeness appears in the movie as the object of a slum child’s adoration, criticized the film for portraying a poverty-stricken India. Big B, as he is known in India, wrote in his blog that if the movie “projects India as [a] Third World, dirty under belly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky under belly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations.”

Ditto! Mere Mehboob! R.I.P. my Bollywood lovin’ billi.

I put my beloved cat, Ditto, to sleep today. She was approximately 16.4 years old and lived a great life! In fact she probably lead a life more comfortable than most people in the world are able live. I have never been present when a pet has been put to sleep until today, and was amazed that is was just as sweet as it was sad. Why do I write about Ditto here on a Bollywood blog? Well of course I have to write about her zindagi, I mean life, because I loved her and she watched most of the Bollywood movies I’ve seen with me! OK, I admit she slept peacefully through most of the films, unless there was a song, fight scene, or animal sound that piqued her interest and perked up her ears. I think she especially liked Lata and Asha’s voices. I will be looking for this little cat to perhaps be reincarnated into the next Indian Film Industry star! She’d be like that pretty actress who won a pagent, starts out as an item girl in films, but it turns out she can really act! Or maybe she’ll be a playback singer, hai na?

 

Now Ditto’s life was like a lot of Bollywood films. She started out as an orphan that my brother found abandoned, crying out on a cold and rainy night. I think it must have been a lot like the baby left in the park in Amar Akbar Anthony. My bhai brought her home temporarily. Cat lovers, you all know what temporarily means. But there was a problem since my brother already had a cat, Bud, and she was a dacoit! Bud had made my brother her keeper when she found him walking around the block at night, while he would secretly smoke cigarettes. Dacoit Bud and my brother had clandestine meetings that turned into a permanent living arrangement. This is typical of the tricky ways cats work; they scout you out and make you think you found them. Yet bandit Bud had a heart of gold, and though she spent time smoking, drinking Johnnie Walker, gambling, murdering birds, and pretending to have no regard for the new orphan Ditto, she secretly did love the new kitten. Bud proved her love of Ditto by protecting her from a menacing dog. The kitten copied much of what Bud did, and earned her name: Ditto. Fast forward 16 years, Bud has been gone for years, and Ditto has now joined her in cat heaven. Ditto was fond of the beautiful things in life, like napping in the sun, sight seeing out the window, and sleeping to Bollywood movies. She especially loved salmon, pastries, shiny colorful beads, and all plants, particularly flowers. I didn’t have the luck of discovering the joy of having a pet cat until I was an adult. I had a great bulldog as a kid, but no cat. So many wasted years of my youth were lived cat-free! This gorgeous, sweet cat improved my quality of life about 80% to 90%, and since I’ve had a nice life so far, that’s saying a lot! Her sweet spirit and memory shall live on forever. Ditto’s movie watching career (in this lifetime) ended on a high note with Mere Mehboob (translation:My Beloved, how fitting!) and 4 of the 5.5 hours of Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata. On a side note, don’t you think when you take apart the name Barack Obama it sounds a lot like Mahabharata all mixed up? Ba-Rak-O-Ba-Ma. Ma-Ha-Bha-Ra-Ta.

Last night when I knew I’d be putting Ditto to sleep today, I was checking the blog stats page, which shows what search terms bring people to your blog and the highlighted stood out to me:

I must have at one time used the words, “night is always darkest before the dawn” in this blog and someone was led here that way. I am always on the look out for mystical coincidences, and took this to be a lovely one that revealed a message I needed to read last night. How sweet! Isn’t life grand?

At times artistic expression can convey the deepest of feelings and send a healing message. The wonderful film Jaane Tu … Ya Jaane Na (2008) has just such a message in a song that fits my situation today: Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindigi. In this tune Genelia D’Souza‘s character Aditi has a cat that has just died and her friend, played by Imran Khan, tries to cheer her up. The beautiful music is by the illustrious A. R. Rahman, with playback singer Rashid Ali, picturized on D’Souza, Khan, and a kitten!

One of my favorite bloggers, TheBollywoodFan, recently tranlated the lyrics to all the songs from JTYJN. You can read his full translation of Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindigi here. I’ve copied some of his translation to the song here to show you how it was just what I needed today and has a message that we all need:

Occasionally, Aditi, in life like this, it feels like someone belongs to us. Occasionally, Aditi, when he/she separates, it feels like it was a dream. In such a case how can on keep one’s tears from flowing? And how can someone think that everything’s gonna be OK?…Listen a little, the uncontrolled wind starts telling you, that Aditi, those who separate meet again, Aditi, whether or not you know the flowers blossom again.

Bollywood coming through for me in a tough spot! So I will continue to watch movies, missing my sweet little Ditto and being thankful for the great times we had. Maybe a new cat will find me when the time is right. There has been a cat hanging around the house a lot lately, looking like he or she would like to come in. I wonder if that billi would like Bollywood?

Bommarillu (2006) & Genelia D’Souza. Sometimes I sneak over to Tollywood.

I know this is a Bollywood blog, but sometimes I have to talk about Tollywood.

I saw my second Telugu film the other day: Bommarillu (2006).  The first Telugu film I saw was Varsham (2004), which I enjoyed just as much.  I was excited to see Genelia D’Souza in a movie, since her much anticipated Bollywood film Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na is set to debut this weekend. If you’re curious as I am about JTYJN, Nawab theBollywoodFan has translated the songs from the movie (music by A. R. Rahman!) and given a lot of great preview information at his site.  He’s also had some brushes with the film’s director, Abbas Tyrewala, that you can read about here.

D’Souza is adorable ADORABLE as Hasini in Bommarillu.

She’s like the daughter of Kajol and Rani if that were possible, with a dash of Tanuja, and twist of Gidgit; meaning if she were any cuter she’d explode.  The movie reminded me of DDLJ, KKHH, and Cinderella.  Its appeal is vast, but in particular, I think all 8-12 year old girls out there would adore this movie.  Second to D’Souza, my other favorite part in the film was the domineering father, marvelously played by the brutally handsome Prakash Raj.  I was delighted to find that when this move is remade in Hindi, one of my favorite hot villains, Nana Patekar, will play the father.

My favorite number from the film is Laloo Darvaja, with music by Murali, Naveen, Priya Prakash; lyricist: Kulasekhar.
Here’s another song from the film, Bommani Geesthe, with music by Jeans Srinivas, and Gopika Poornima, lyricist; BhaskaraBhatla.  Reminds me a bit of DDLJ :
Would you like to know more about Bommarillu?  Then head over to theBollywoodFan, Apni East India CompanySai and Shujath Talk Cinema, and Baba Aur Bollywood for some excellent insight. If you consider yourself to be intuitive, this screen capture from the film could be interpreted as a spoiler: