Bright colors. Cheery tunes. Epic, convoluted, improbable love stories. Insanely beautiful men and women dancing and lip-synching in musical fantasy sequences that have no connection to the story. Many Westerners, if they have any conception at all of the Mumbai-based Indian film industry known as "Bollywood," have a definite image of the films that come out of Asia's biggest cinema factory.
But it's not just Westerners. "Bollywood is nothing but a man and a woman dancing around a tree and singing!" a South Asian student at my college said disgustedly when I admitted I was becoming a fan. He had a point, though it wasn't just trees. In some of the bigger-budget musicals you'd see them dancing around the Great Pyramids or something. But neither of us knew what Bollywood had to offer outside of its best-known fare.
With today's DVD release of My Name Is Khan, one of Bollywood's most successful films, we take a look at some of India's best movies, and what we can take away from watching them.
Not just a 'singing, dancing nation'
On the DVD extras, director Karan Johar says he wants My Name Is Khan to widen the common view of cinematic India as a "singing, dancing nation." He's made a good run at it, too: Khan earned $40 million worldwide ($4 million U.S.) in its theatrical run earlier this year, making it one of the top 10 grossing Bollywood films of all time. Filmed and set mostly in the United States, Khan's colors are muted. No crowds break out dancing. And the title character, though played by Bollywood's top leading man, is not a standard romantic hero.
The film opens in 2007, with a Muslim man named Rizvan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) who lives in the U.S. and whose family is experiencing post-9/11 prejudice. Khan begins researching ...1
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Bollywood's World View
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