I took a trip to India and did some research on Indian culture and found out they love moves almost as much as I do. I made it my goal to watch a few Bollywood movies to get ready for my trip. It was during that research I fell in love with Bollywood films. They are epic compared to our blockbuster popcorn films. It’s interesting that American movies are popular over in India. Ours do well but I figured with their rich move culture that our films wouldn’t rate much. The two different styles are so diverse they aren’t really competing.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a great example of the India masala film. It has touches of everything. Some joy, sadness, humor, drama, dancing and singing. Most of these movies are going to be long, so long they provide you with an intermission in the middle. Intermission is a lost concept on the American movie audience. But if you are going to commit to a three hour film you need a break in the middle. It’s just more humane. The theater could benefit by giving their customers a break to go more snacks.
They are written in two halves to give you more of an understanding of the characters going into the second half of the movie. The second half is more action and conclusion to the stories. Masala movies weave a vivid tapestry from the characters. You get to know them very well before the major action happens in the film. You will also have some musical numbers mixed in with the story, sometimes it’s blended in with the story sometimes it happens spontaneously. In most cases it’s completely in line with the story. Now it’s odd that everyone on the street would know the intricate dance moves but it is so catchy you just go with it.
This film challenges the division between Pakistan and India. There is a huge cultural divide between the two countries that have a shared history. This movie takes a young mute Pakistani girl, Shahida (Hershaali Malthotra), and strands her in India. She wonders into a town and finds Pawan (Salman Khan) who is a kind hearted Hanuman Bhakt. devotee (they believe in living a true and honest life in order to develop the divine in your own spirit). Together they find a way to communicate and once Shahida’s origins are discovered, Pawan has to take a great risk to himself to safely return her to her family. Pawan isn’t the smartest tool in the toolbox but he is the most honest and the strongest.
Hershaali Malthotra silently captures the audience with her powerful presence on the screen. She is adorable and through her eyes she makes a connection with the viewer. It’s really difficult for a performer to convey thought and feelings without speaking but she makes it look easy. Salman Khan is a superstar in India and shows off that he is an accomplished performer: singing (or at least some spot on lip syncing) , dancing, fighting and making us cry.
A catchy Bollywood dance number, your welcome.
His character's total innocence and brutal devotion to honesty is so endearing and makes you want him to succeed. The Director (Kabir Khan) gives both sides of the border a touch of humanity. Political and fundamental problems between those two countries aside, this movie shows that families are families regardless of what side of a fence you are born on. It’s a great story, showing how absurd politics and devotion to bureaucracies are.
Films can help transform the social landscape, sometimes for good. I think more of these stories will help soften the dialog between the two countries. It speaks to the viewer and shows them we are more alike than unalike. Once we see more humanity we see in our enemies the easier the peace process can be.
I recommend watching this movie. If you have never seen a masala film before this would be a good introduction. Then I can share a few others with you.
What other countries' films should I start watching?