Monday, September 27, 2004

How do you say "mind-numbing bunk" in Hindi?

With due apologies to Elysa Gardner of USA Today who used this for Bombay Dreams, this is exactly what I felt when I saw Mithun Chakraborthy's film. For the last 4 days, our insti movie club has been screening 2 movies a day, from 10pm to 2am. This has been a pretty easy term and the guys are chilling out, Perhaps too much. Today was Mithun da's movie ‘Chandaal’. I did not get to see the whole movie but I saw the movie for about 20 minutes and got a feel of what was coming. His movies have an absurd story line, with a ridiculous plot, raunchy songs, melodrama (I would prefer over-acting like my mom says), and unbelievable fight scenes. They also have such quotable dialogues like, "Kaanoon sun rahaa hai" (The law is listening).

One guy in my class says "He has redefined cinema, his movies can’t be called C grade, they are M-grade as one site says!"

Armed only with my limited knowledge of Hindi and passion to see the legend on screen, I went to see the movie. The screening room was with about 15 people. A few minutes into the movie, the crowd swelled to 20 odd enthusiasts. As the movie progressed, the residents stabilised to 10 and an equal floating population. Some came only for the songs, and some for the award winning acting of Mithun. Yeah, this guy has won 4 national awards.

Within 20 minutes, I saw two songs, a court scene, a police-station scene, a jail scene, few sentimental scenes, one flashback, one voice-over flashback, two murders, one revenge scene, one 'I love you' scene, one symbolic love scene, not necessarily in that order and some scenes overlap.

The movie started at the bottom and trying to go downhill could only burrow towards the centre of the earth. After a chai (tea in Hindi), and a small chat, I went back to see the movie. This time it was a comedy scene which makes Jerry Lewis look funny. The comedian sits in a grave-yard, chats unknowingly with two spooks, then realises they are ghosts, shrieks and faints. You know, the way we used to play as kids. All the jokes are typical Indian cinema-type.

Next is another fight. This time the hero fights eight henchmen single-handedly. We see four hulks coming to beat up our Mithun-da and threaten him. Mithun-da doesn’t even flinch; he goes into overdrive and takes care of them – one by one then two to four at a time. Some moves are etched into the mind. The adorable Mithun, with a single flow of his steel arm, hits the bad guys in a row. Next, with a quick strike, the four are knocked down like flimsy dominoes. After this, one baddie materialises out of nowhere behind him. Our darling Mithun is not the one to be dazed. Without even looking at what the guy behind him is doing, he blocks every shot and punch. Still without having to turn around, the bad, bad villain is pounded and ends up in a heap on the floor.

Basically, the above are in a loop, with just different places, costumes, dialogues and settings. This was all I could handle. I have used up all the adjectives for our venerable Mithun-da so I must stop here without sounding redundant and sounding like a transcript.

For your pleasure, I present some of the high quality scenes and dialogues.

Scene: the hero is taken from the court to the jail. Our heroine is run of the mill (cinematic) reporter in deep in love with the hero and considers him her husband for all generations to come.

Heroine: hello sir
Hero: who are you?
Heroine: I am a reporter; I want to write all about you
Hero: go away, leave me alone
Heroine: (silent)

Hero is being taken away in an armoured van

Heroine: (shouts) I love you

Cut to scene, heroine is talking with her friend, mostly I could not understand, but something related to the love of our lovely heroine to the hunky hero. To prove her undying love for him, she goes to a (sindoor) holder, takes it in her right ring finger and applies it to the parting of her hair, the symbol of a married woman. That is to say, she is symbolically and spiritually married to our hero.

Context: heroine wants to prove hero is innocent, so she goes to the police station to see the inspector

Heroine: I want to see the files of hero
Inspector: why?
Heroine says something about right to information or such thing, I could not understand inspector goes and takes the smallest file from a tiny stack of files and gives it to her.

Cue music - horrible rendition of 'Saare Jahan Se Accha'. Scene changes, heroine stands in front of the national flag, facing the governor. In line with Indian movie etiquette, only the back of his head is shown, as speaking to the heroine. She tells something and he nods, heroine namastes him and goes away. No dialogues in this scene, the scene floats in the music.

Scene cut to jail. Hero comes wearing your traditional jail garb and talks to the jailor.

Jailor: you have been decided innocent by the governor. You are free to go now. Here are the clothes you wore coming here, and here is some money. You earned it working inside the jail.
Hero spouts some historically recordable dialogue, takes away his dress and money and leaves.

These movies cannot be expressed in writing or second hand. You have to experience it first hand and submerge in it. Please leave your logic outside. While leaving, you will feel light-hearted and all your worries would have vanished, forever. Once you go for Mithun, you will never go back.

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