My wrist is still in the sling so please forgive any eccentricities in my writing, strange words and turquoise nut bound feet.
I first took an interest in Bollywood movies about 10 years ago. I was surfing Netflix and on the basis of a movie that I’d “liked”( some historical drama or another) it recommended. Jodaa Akbar.
There were several cultural elements that were puzzlers to me. For instance there was a scene where the young Queen has prepared her husband the Emperor, lunch. The emperor’s evil stepmother demands that the Queen taste the food first as required by their law. From the deafening blast of the incidental music and the shocked expressions on the faces of all the courtiers it was obvious that something BAD had just happened but damned if I knew what. Then the emperor announced that he would eat from the same plate as the Queen. Suddenly there was happy music, the courtiers were smiling and the evil stepmother was clearly furious because she had been defeated and I was even more in the dark as to what had just happened. I asked my wife, she shrugged and said. “caste stuff.” I had to agree because I couldn’t come up with anything better myself.
But setting aside things like that, there were elements that I really enjoyed. It was the kind of movie that Hollywood simply cannot make any more. Not will not. Can not. the culture that now infests the American film industry simply isn’t capable of producing something like this.
There was an idealism to Bollywood films and also a sense of Innocence. There is an unconscious love for and confidence in their own national culture as well.
And intriguingly there was no Alpha male resentment whatsoever. Alpha resentment has crept so deeply and so gradually into our entertainment culture over the last 50 years that running into a complete lack of it is something of a shock. The heroes of Bollywood movies are always alpha males.
The villains for their part are invariably lying, sly, cheating, cowardly, sneering, sniveling and unmanly (sound familiar?). Those are clearly all viewed as the worst vices a man can have.
If you’re tired of the high pressure stream of sewage flying out of the Hollywood shit pip and miss the epic grandeur of Cecil B Demille’s, you may want to give some of these movies from the East a shot.
This one’s a historical epic set in the 1700s, during the late mughal period. it’s a lot like Romeo and Juliet… if Romeo had had two wives and led vast armies. And Juliet had been a skilled warrior, dancer and singer. And they had children together. Okay, so really not like Romeo and Juliet at all but they did end up Tragically United in Death so there’s that.
An old favorite of mine. This one is an action, adventure, comedy, romance, drama, musical. Also it’s about 3 hours long but it does deliver on all those things. It is currently available from Amazon Prime.
The plot (as if that matters at all) is about a police detective and his comedy sidekick (who is surprisingly ripped), hunting down the greatest thief in the world. He eventually sets out a honey trap for him with Ashwarya Rai as the honey.
This was the movie where I found out how much of modern Hindi is actually English. You can pretty much get by with the subtitles turned off for this one.
Bahubali is the god of all Gary Stus. The action pulverizes the screen with it’s over the top with it’s deliriously insane power. This is acceptable because you are not watching the life of ordinary man. You are watching the saga of man who was closer to being a god than any mere mortal hero.
The plot is simple enough and also one of the oldest. Once again, we see the tale of Osiris. The Rightous King murderder by his usurping and unworthy brother. And the retribution visited upon the Unworthy by the King’s son, the rightful heir.
I honestly feel in terms of action this film holds its own with any of the recent Marvel films.
There are two of these films but they are basically one five hour epic that has been cut in two.