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Just for Kids

31 Oct

The man driving the cab could have been any age between 40 and 55. Since I chose to sit up front for the 40 minute drive, he decided to pass the time talking to me rather than his friends on radio. He was from Pakistan, he said, and a Bollywood fan.

“Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar,” he said enthusiastically. “Those are actors!”

“You don’t like any of the younger lot?”

“Shahrukh Khan,” he shrugged. “Aamir Khan. But nothing like the old ones.”

I agreed dutifully. Perhaps there are Bollywood fans out there who believe otherwise; all I know is that if I even dared think along those lines, lightning would immediately strike me dead. I believe it’s Rule Number One in the Bollywood Handbook – Thou Shalt Revere Those Who Came Before.

“Besides, these days it is all different,” he mused as we drove through a steady drizzle, wipers lazily swooshing back and forth. “You can’t watch those movies with the ladies.”

He looked at me to check whether I understood, being a lady, what kind of stuff he was talking about. I nodded and he sat back, relieved. He really didn’t want to go into the vulgar specifics of what was going on in the movies these days.

“Things have changed,” I intoned solemnly as one does at times like these.

“Not for the better,” he replied sadly as they always do.

It is not an uncommon sentiment. You’ll hear it from just about every person who watches Hindi cinema. And to a certain extent, I suppose they are right. The hip hop dance routines, on-screen kissing, short skirts and brief tops – it’s all very different from the days when Meena Kumari’s ankles, coyly exposed to the flirting waves of the Arabian Sea, were driving men into a frenzy of lust.

But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that mainstream Bollywood cinema remains as staid as it ever was. They might dress differently and their Hindi accents are frequently trash, but I’d take my hypothetical kids to watch a modern Hindi romance – from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun to Jab We Met, the old fashioned Bollywood romance is as saccharine sweet and family-friendly as it ever was.

Conversely, you know what’s not kid-friendly? The movies aimed at children.

For example, I wouldn’t take any child of mine to watch stuff like Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic – and not just because I’m averse to the idea of little children in theatres or because I’m sure my kids far too much to subject them to that kind of torture. I wouldn’t take them to see Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic because I wouldn’t want them brained in the face with Ameesha melons.

It’s some sort of overcompensation tactic on the part of the producers – “Oh no, we made a movie for the tykes but they don’t have any money! Idea! Let’s slut it up a little and then the Mummies and Daddies will have something to watch too! The kids get to watch cartoons, the parents get to jerk off and I get to make money! Everybody wins!”

I was watching promos for the new YashRaj / Disney animated movie Roadside Romeo, the love story of two rather unattractive doggies voiced by Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan (a million jokes here that I will just let slide) and I was pretty damn sure 30 seconds in, that I wouldn’t take my kid to watch this. I’d much rather pop in a DVD of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and let them watch that. It’d be cheaper, more appropriate and keep them occupied for a much longer time.

PS – Who the hell gets Saif Ali Khan to voice a toon? Haven’t they ever heard him speak?

PPS – Cheenti Cheenti Bang Bang? Why have I never heard of this awesome movie before? Y’all have been holding out on me! For shame!

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9 Comments

Posted by on October 31, 2008 in Entertainment, Movies, Video

 

9 responses to “Just for Kids

  1. M

    October 31, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Amrita,

    There’s a similar topic of conversation over at Bollywhat as well, but my opinion is that a lot of superfluous sleaze is being added to movies where theer was no need for it – such as the song you mentioned, or the fantastic one from Heroes.

    And really, of the Hindi movies released in 2008, there are maybe 6 or so that I wouldn’t mind watching with kids – all the others have at least one scene or song that I find objectionable. (not counting ones where the subject is violent and thus not suitable for kids, such as Sarkar Raj).

    I do think that the *good* movies, while few and far between, are better than they used to be – so maybe that makes up for it. For example, while JWM drove *me* up the wall because of Kareena, it was a nice look at a contemporary romance.

    As for TPTM, maybe kids tune out the item number? from my small sample set of all my friends’ daughters (tweens – 5 of them) they love that movie, and go on and on about how cute Saif is (gag) and how lovely Rani is (gag again) but no mention is made of the boobs-in-yellow-bikini…unless their moms FF the song – which seems unlikely, given how many times these girls seem to have seen that movie!

    M

     
  2. bollyviewer

    October 31, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Were old movies really so “clean”/child-friendly? I grew up watching 60s and 70s flicks on Doordarshan and I can tell you that as a kid I knew what rape was a long time before I figured out about love – there were so many graphic and long drawn out rape scenes all over the place! And why trash today’s actors? There were enough wooden-faced hams back in 50s and 60s (probably more because acting-styles were so different back then) as well! O well, I remember my grandma saying that they didnt make great movies after the 50s and even the music declined in the 60s!!!! For some people the “old” days were always better. Guess today’s generation will be telling their kids 20 years from now that Rakhi Sawant was one class act that nobody else can emulate!

     
  3. M

    October 31, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Bollyviewer,

    were these the flicks of the 70s? I remember rape-as-staple in the movies of the 80s, but I could be mistaken. I do remember that the “love story” part of many of the 70s movies I saw was so mild, it went completely over my head.

    M

     
  4. bollyviewer

    October 31, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    M, I remember quite a few on DD (the heroines were usually saved at the last moment, after a lot of screaming and grabbing) but the only one that I can recall right away is 1971’s Sharmelee which had a graphic almost-rape scene between Ranjeet and Rakhee.

     
  5. memsaab

    November 1, 2008 at 10:31 am

    What I get tired of in contemporary movies (Bolly- AND Holly) is the endless onslaught of noise and special effects which seem to be a replacement for an actual story. Urgh, I DO sound like an old person! I guess I am getting up there 😉

     
  6. Amrita

    November 1, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    M & BV – I’m really talking about romantic movies not all Hindi movies. Like any other cinema Bollywood has run of the mill movies that are really unsuitable for children’s viewing of course. And really, the 80s are a class apart when it comes to sleaze. But I was thinking of movies like Silsila which has a lot of inappropriate material but I wouldn’t mind a kid of mine watching it. As for Sharmeelee, it’s been a while since i saw it, but I don’t remember it being that graphic. I should see it again.

    Memsaab – well then we must two old farts in a pod (oh, ew) because I feel the same way. It’s like technique can make up for art and um, I don’t think so.

     
  7. M

    November 1, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    another old fart chipping in….agree on the noise/special effect pointlessness!

    And I think we’re on the same side: My memory of romantic movies of the 70s is not of the romance but of the enjoyable story….

    M

     
  8. bollyviewer

    November 3, 2008 at 5:58 am

    Oooo yes, I hate the special effects and fancy camera-work that usually replaces interesting stories and great dialogues these days.That and the way better songs are what make 50s-70s movies so much more attractive than modern Bollywood to me!

     
 
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