About a year ago a colleague of mine invited me to join her to a movie night at a friend’s place. She forwarded me the invitation and I saw that it was not a movie night but an institution. This guy had been progressively taking a group of his friends on an exploration of critically acclaimed and award-winning foreign and art house films every Monday night for years. Coming into their place in Ottawa’s lower town, you will be led past the living room and into a little Harry Potter closet under a staircase that is not a closet but a gateway to a ladder leading down into a theatre. The ceilings and walls are painted a matte black and there is a reflective screen installed at the front of the room for the digital projector and computer that are installed to the ceiling. Four futon couches serve as seating, each one lifted higher than the next on risers.
After the movie I mentioned to our host how cool I thought it was that him and his house-mates had chosen to give up one of their rentable bedrooms for the sake of this amazing theatre, and then he told me that it was in fact his room. Maybe you will have to see the room to understand, but I couldn’t imagine how this theatre could also serve as a bedroom for a grown man. Basically, he sacrificed his bedroom on the altar of film. Then he moved to somewhere in South America and one of the coolest things about Ottawa was no more.
As many of you know, I have lived in India a couple times and since I like to pack light, one of the only souvenirs I came home with was a burning love for popular Hindi films. My first one was called Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and it blew me away. My friends who joined me were a little cynical about it, including the one who faithfully translated the entire film to me by whispering in my ear. To me it was a gateway into a whole new world of stories, actors, filmmakers and composers – just when I had thought I had seen it all when it came to movies.
To fill the void left by the departure of the aforementioned ongoing movie night, I decided to start my own. One that would respect the confines of my comically small apartment and narrow down the number of interested people to only those with the most distinguished taste. It’s called Masla Filmi Mela and we only watch mega-hit Hindi films. Each invitation includes a brief review of the last film and the rating that came from those who came to watch it. Some people have said they are funny, so I thought I would start to share them here. Hopefully this will also inspire some more people out there to discover the miracle of Bollywood.
Here’s your first in this new series of brief Bollywood movie reviews:
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
Some facts about this film:
- The stars, Kajol and Shahrukh Khan, have made no less than six hit films together.
- It is the longest running film in the history of Indian cinema, with high demand keeping it in Mumbai theatres for a record 750 weeks.
- It is the fifth most popular Indian film of all time after adjusting for inflation. Making it the Exorcist of Indian cinema.
- It swept the 1996 Filmfare Awards (think: Indian Oscars), earning 10 awards that year, including best movie, director, actor and actress.
Winning Simran’s (Kajol) heart was the easy part. All that Raj (Shahrukh Khan) had to do was tease her mercilessly and completely ruin her trip across Europe by train with her closest friends – her last month of freedom before she gets shipped off Punjab to marry a stranger. The hard part would be to win over Simran’s conservative father without her father melting Raj’s brain with his laser eyes.
His only option? Crash the wedding. This isn’t any little afternoon affair he’s crashing. Indian engagement ceremonies alone can take days. Raj is going to need come commitment to get through it. And dance numbers.
This romantic comedy was lots of fun to watch and plenty engaging, but very difficult to take seriously. Three stars.