Bollywood Barfi

We went to the Raj Mandir Theatre in Jaipur.

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It is one of the most popular places to see movies in India.

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India’s film industry regularly produces double the number of films in a year that Hollywood does and is a big part of Indian culture.

It could be argued that Bollywood movies are a joyous celebration of music, dance, life and love. Another interpretation is that they are chauvinistic, materialistic pieces of badly acted derivative wish fulfilment drivel. I leave it to you, dear reader, to ruminate upon which side of the argument my own views fall.

We saw a film called Barfi, which is this year’s submission for India’s entry for consideration as Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.

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It is not a typical Bollywood film and has hardly any dance scenes.  It is the story of a deaf and mute man who needs to raise money for his father’s operation, so he kidnaps an autistic woman. Imagine if Charlie Chaplin did a remake of Rain Man.

It is an interesting experience to see a movie in India, as the audience clapped and cheered and whistled as the story progressed.

A review at the New Delhi TV service says “Barfi! comes as close to being a modern masterpiece as cinematically possible. To miss it would be a crime. To embrace it is to serenade the sublime.”

Maybe the reviewer just doesn’t get out that much.

Exceptions such as Barfi aside, Bollywood films are known for adapting North American cultural icons and adding an understated depth and complexity lacking from the Hollywood version.

Indian cinema doesn’t just consist of Bollywood, there are also Tamil-language films, such as Enthiran (or Endhiran), an Indian take on the Terminator, filled with some amazing action spectacles.

Sadly, the film is marred by the need to include dance numbers.  A film featuring an unstoppable killer robot somehow features a dance routine called Kiliminjaro – filmed at Machu Picchu.

 

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