I went to go see an Indian movie today--I haven't done that in years! But over the past few days, I've seen posts from a few different people about the latest Bollywood movie, Ram Leela, Sanjay Leela Bansali's latest film. Seeing that it's cold out (which means I'm picking a movie over a night out), I'm watching what I eat and drink (the whole weight loss thing), I had no plans and I miss my Bollywood dancing days, a Bollywood movie sounded perfect. Even if I went alone, which I was willing to do but didn't have to end up doing, phew. Was the movie good? That depends on your definition of good. If you like over the top, unrealistic, funny (especially if you're Gujarati), inappropriate (for Bollywood standards) movies with good music and GREAT dancing--and fantastic costumes!--, then this is your movie. While I didn't hate the movie, I didn't love it either. It would be a renter for me. But then again, Bollywood is a guilty pleasure of mine.
I can't understand most of the songs, yet I find myself belting them out and "singing" from memory during impromptu Antakshri games. Better yet, as a child (and ok, even now), I used to love watching the dance videos and learning the dance moves! It drives me crazy how the guy and girl in a Bollywood movie fall in love based on a look across the room, or even how Bollywood depicts romance, yet I'm always rooting for the couple to end up together and live happily ever after. What about the over-the-top scenes where the main character, in 2 minutes, manages to solve all of the problems and issues the first 2 hours of the movie built up, in a monologue where he or she always seems to cry, or make someone else cry. There are so many reasons for me to hate Bollywood movies, yet I keep going back to them. Why?
Comfort, escape and entertainment. Bollywood has been fused through my life for as long as I can remember. From going to the movies with my aunt as a kid to renting every Indian movie from the library, Bollywood reminds me of family, it reminds me of home, it reminds me of my roots--as ridiculous as the movie might be. As a kid, we'd listen to my Dad's favorite old school (to us) Bollywood songs in the car and over time, I actually started enjoying them myself. As a family (minus my brother), we'd gather around the TV and watch the latest movie my dad picked up from Patel Brothers. My sister and I would watch movies and write down songs that we liked so we could use them the next time we put a dance together for a family party or community program. Bollywood reminds me of family--and it also provides an escape. If you want a 3 hour escape from whatever you have going on in your life, Bollywood movies can do that for you. I don't watch a lot of TV or movies, but when I do, I am focussed. I'm the girl who jumps when someone gets grabbed in a movie, even when I know it's coming, just because I get that into it. Movies provide that distraction, that brief escape, when we want it or need it. And we can't forget about entertainment! I remember going to movies in India when we'd visit our family and friends, and it was a completely different experience than it is here. When the hero would appear on screen for the first time, audience members would cheer. The crowd would react to empowering scenes with applause. And the songs? People would jump up from their seat and sing and dance along! Going to the movies was an experience, an outing, a show!
No matter how much I know Bollywood is tainting my mind, it's my brain candy. It's a chance for me to escape reality, get sucked in my the storyline and (usually) laugh and dance the night away. While most Bollywood movies are great to pass time, there are a few (and there's been an increase in how many in recent years), that actually approach hot topics and make you think or strike an emotional chord. I don't know if I'll be going to watch another 3 hour movie anytime soon, I think I have my fill for now, but it's nice to know that my guilty pleasure will be there for me when I need it next time.