We often hear people talking very lightly of Indian cinema. I am myself guilty of this crime many a times. Agreed, we have never made a great biography (we needed a Richard Attenborough to make Gandhi) We have not made a decent "road movie". The nearest we have gone to make an animation movie was the irritating parrot in "Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon" (other than Esha Deol making weird faces at the camera, of course!). Our war movies are always jingoistic, highly cliched boring sagas (Somebody try a "Thin Red Line" or an "Apocalypse Now" please!)

Apart from the shameless Hollywood rip-offs and NRI romances, we have not actually fared that bad. We were the pioneers in a great many things (for which we rarely get credit) and some of them are so original that nobody has dared to copy. Here is an attempt to honor them.

  • Lost n found
King of all plot devices. Parents never learn to hold their children's arms firmly, children are not afraid to be lost - and in a country as crowded and populous as India, the lost ones are found at a later time. (And the password family song. I was too scared of getting lost as a kid as my parents had never taught me any password family song. What if I was lost, keep singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and my parents would think I was just another child who was tortured with rhymes at a young age!) Just wondering why it was so tough to find a lost woman on an island in "L'avventura"!

  • Multiple roles
I tried real hard to recollect non-Indian movies where an actor has performed multiple roles (all I could think of was Nicolas Cage's "Adaptation" - in that too they are twins. Even if there are others, its we who make too many multiple-role movies I guess) Nobody has crossed the heights our creative genius - where grandfather, dad and son all look alike - with varying mustache sizes and silver content in hairs. (I wonder why sons don't resemble their mothers in the movies :P)

  • Accidental deaths
"Mere mummy pappa plane/car accident mein guzar chuke", and that too at a time where most of the people walked all the time (I have never heard any movie character's parents dying when they were walking on footpath or traveling by scooter!) People who travel by car/plane are not as lucky as people who get lost in melas. Law of averages catches up.

  • Stop Bullet
The speed of a bullet is inversely proportional to the desire of the person to protect his friend and sacrifice his own life instead. An average bullet-ridden Indian survives 6.34 times longer and talks 20.41 times more than a bullet-ridden person of any other country.

  • Last moment marriage stop
Imagine this - Hugh Grant is holding Andie MacDowell's hand in his left hand and the camera is focused on the diamond ring he is holding in his right hand. Bang! The door opens and Whoopi Goldberg walks in with two hapless kids and screams her lungs out - "How could you do this to me? Didn't you remember these children's faces?" (Wyyyaaaaaan)
Or how about this? Hugh Grant is holding Andie MacDowell's hand in his left hand and the camera is focused on the diamond ring he is holding in his right hand. Bang! A dozen cops rush in and yell at the top of their voices - "LAPD. Mister, we have proof that you are a criminal. Don't you move. Put the ring down. On your knees" The priest tells "You may kiss the bride now". Cop - "Father, anything you say can and will be hold against you in the court of law". No, never! And that's when I miss Indian movies so much.

  • Talking to God
No one other than us would barge into a lonely temple and start conversing with God. It could be a pitiful "Why me?", an angry "WTF is going on?" or a silent "Please-save-my-hubby-from-his-manager" talk. I wonder why God does not appear and say "You talking to me?"

  • Doctor breaking news
This is a personal favorite.
Doctor - "Santosh, neevu appa aagthideera. Congrats!"
Santosh (completely bewildered) - "Nija na doctor?" (still surprised)
Happiness is one thing, but "you sure?" or "did I?" astonishment is something I am not able to understand, but this scene is pure cinematic magic!

  • Thunder n Lightening
This is the most subtle, symbolic and brilliant of all plot devices. Its a cloudy day. The macho hero is not overtly aggressive. The docile heroine rarely lifts her head. There's lightening followed by a thunder and she runs into his arms. Very poetic. The closest second should be - see the cockroach, get scared and jump on the hero (I have an interesting theory for this - the heroine being docile and all that cannot make the first move. And what better pretext to hug the hero than thunder or cockroaches :D)

I guess this is becoming a very long post, I will stop here. Can you think of any other great "contribution" of us to World Cinema?

18 Comments:

  1. krupa said...
    how could you forget-
    The super talented dog/monkey which does antics and in the end save the situation!!!(sometimes after looking at God's photo it will go and hand over the letter to the wrong person)

    Gajar-ka-halwa: When heroines are not hugging heroes during thunder storms..they are making gajar ka halwa.Even if the heroine doesn't..the mother definitely is an expert in making gazar ka halwa.

    The heroine/hero's sister who strut around in mini skirts...are always seen in a saree during a sentimental scene.

    The hero isn't a trained fighter...but can still fight armed goondas.

    Even if its a dream sequence and the heroine is a delhi kudi..she knows the by lanes of England/Switzerland/New Zealand so well..as to imagine everything in minute detail.

    Hilarious post!
    Sunil said...
    Very good. Brought back quite a lot of memories.

    Bullet one is a gem.

    Not at all to be insensitive, but hero's sister is a potential rape candidate unless otherwise proved.Which is only the end of the movie.

    Also, I remember this line which how much ever I try to get off my head, it simply doesnt go away.

    Agar ek bhi kadam aaage badaaaya tho choor choor kardoonga. The power of the metaphors.
    Anil P said...
    Check Trikal by Shyam Benegal.
    chaitra said...
    * Brothers get separated (under your Lost and found category), you can be sure that one becomes a cop, and the other, a thug.

    * Songs, and breathtaking steps. Imagine your Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell shaking vigorously to AR Rehman's beats :)

    Btw, hilarious post!
    Soumia said...
    loved the post.
    "Agar ghar se bahar kadam raki tho mera mara huva mooh dekhegi".dead face! no big deal
    Anonymous said...
    How can u forget a bullet from machine gun can pierce steel plates, brick wall but can’t pierce a supporting actor’s flesh. May be the bullet this selfless act is kind of ‘shell struck’ :)

    And the most amazing ham scene …. “One of the bad guys is shot and hero preaches him to do some good work to reserve a seat in haven and tell him to whom did he work and who sent him. The guy who is amazingly alive till all the preaching is over and is even able to repeats ‘uska naam hain… uska naam hain…” atleast 4 times but never able spill the name. It always happens in Indian movies. :)

    Jokes apart, Indian movies have a reach in the far remote regions than Hollywood. People say they like Indian movies because of family values. Indian movies have mastered the art of depicting falling in love, blushing and heart broken. I haven’t seen any other foreign movie show this. I have met people from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, some remote regions of Africa they all have liked Indian movies more than Hollywood movies.
    - Cavin21 ;)
    prax said...
    u should seriously contemplate directing or something in those lines
    Bit Hawk said...
    @krupa
    Yes, super intelligent animals are the most irritating, next only to Baby Shyamilee! I deliberately left out Gajar Ka Halwa, as it is Bollywood specific and I cannot think of any standard menus in religional movies!

    @sunil
    Some lunch time conversation triggered this topic.
    How could I forget the sister? Yes, whenever she is not a potential rape candidate, she is the innocently-lost-"it" to the villain's son, oblivious of his evil ways! :D

    @Anil P
    Had not heard of "Trikal", will check it out anyways.

    @chaitra
    Good that you loved the post!

    @soumia
    I am thinking of compiling all the common dialogues, you can expect that post in future :)

    @Cavin21
    I sometimes think about how I would have felt about Indian movies if I was a non-Indian. May be then, HAHK would have seemed such a new and enjoyable experience. Thank God, I am an Indian! ;)

    @prax
    I wish some movie producer shows the same faith in me! :(
    Madhuri said...
    How about the ever dramatic villains with 'well-equipped' dens? Oxygen tanks and revolving chairs that open into crocodile ponds? Of course not to forget the item number in the den right as the hero and his mother is tied on a cross! You are missing the whole drama of negative characters - I think Indian movies are the only ones where the villains are far more celebrated than apna hero!
    parijata said...
    Superb post and great comments!

    There is the heroine, who sports gucci bags and designer clothes even when she finds it difficult to make two ends meet. Even an impoverished female finds the money to spend on makeup.

    And is it only in Indian cinema that forty and fifty-year old men play the roles of college-going youth?
    Anonymous said...
    want to add the different kinds of "poisons" the heriones come up with to kill themselves and taking their own time to eat / drink them!! And almost always the bottles are labelled as "POISON"!! :D

    Good post!

    -Priya
    Bit Hawk said...
    @madhuri
    No other villains can be as colorful as in Indian cinema. Imagine a Hannibal Lecter or a Norman Bates in those dens and revolving chairs, amidst maniacally dancing vamps!

    @parijata
    India still having a substantial amount of illiteracy - makes complete sense in having forty pluses in colleges!

    @Priya
    Great one! I had almost missed the poison theme. I wonder if poisons past their expiry dates work ;)
    mouna said...
    wow!! amazing, lols. we should karan johar about it.

    what about the omnipresent boot which turns up whenever the hero goes to fish. and the herione giggles immediately!
    Anonymous said...
    What about the great friendship between the hero and his friend. They hug and almost kiss putting to shame the love between the hero and heroine. The friend is ready to sacrifice his life for the hero.
    shark said...
    this post was simply amazing! couldn't stop laughing at all ROTFL!!!!

    How about these?
    - hero/heroin always "sacrifice" their love becasue one of their parents falls ill at the exact moment?

    - The birds stop flying... the sea waves stop midway... the sunsets' actually "paused".. when something bad happens ;-)

    I truly loved the "family song" thingy :D
    Bit Hawk said...
    @mouna
    You have made "Karan Johar" as the verb? Is it something like joharize about it? ;)

    @anonymous
    Yeah, there were times when a hero hugging and kissing his friend would not make the heroine jealous, but now things have changed ;)

    @shark
    Great ones! Loved the "pause" effects of those days :)
    Nouman said...
    This post delivers the LULZ.
    Shaan said...
    It was really nice to read this post....BUT HOW YOU FORGET THE REINCARNATION?
    Hero will be back to take his revenge and get her mother, who is waiting for him.....lolz

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