Deja vu and Bollywood
August 30, 2005 2:24 PM   Subscribe

Talk to me about references in one Bollywood movie to another movie.
Is it really as common as it seems? why?

I think I'm seeing this all the time... All those scenes, or shots, or dialogue bits in one Bollywood movie that seem to refer to another are part of this incredibly rich intertextual dialogue with the Bollywood audience... like the American movie "Scream," only every freakin' movie.

What is going on?

Pick one, you Bollywood fans:
(1) It's there -- another reason Bollywood is the best cinema in the world.
(2) You're going to dance around a tree, there are only so many ways to film that. It's there, but mostly or entirely accidental.
(3) I am seeing something that's not there and
I need some kind of Bollywood methadone program.
posted by Methylviolet to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: As someone who was born and brought up in Bombay, I can tell you it's because Indians pride themselves for being overly smart.

Making referrences to older movies and other pop culture is one of the things we do. It makes us feel smart when we go "Oh that's from such and such movie" etc. It's supposed to be funny and serves a pat on their own backs for being so smart, when in reality it's rather worn out and dumb most of the times.
posted by riffola at 3:25 PM on August 30, 2005

Also Indians are plagiarists. From ripping off The Beatles, to ripping of Alfred Hitchcock. Everything goes back home when it comes to Bollywood.
posted by riffola at 3:27 PM on August 30, 2005

Yeah, the Indian Beatles suck.
posted by subclub at 3:29 PM on August 30, 2005

Actually you'd end up with Mohd. Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar, the two gems of Bollywood music, singing something to the tune of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" :)
posted by riffola at 3:31 PM on August 30, 2005

Actually, the Mohamed Rafi & Asha Boshle version of I Want to Hold Your Hand (dekho ab to) is a FINE piece of musical entertainment.
posted by luriete at 3:58 PM on August 30, 2005

To back up luriete, foriegn language covers of Anglo-American pop hits are often great even when they're "plaigairized." People can't help leaving personal fingerprints on 'em. I've got over a hundred foreign covers. Some are amazing, it's only when a song sounds peculiarly "American," (like an Italian cover of The Band's "The Weight," that I heard) that it sounds odd in a bad way.
posted by jonmc at 5:03 PM on August 30, 2005

Can anyone recommend what Bollywood movies would be good to start with? I think I've only seen Lagaan and whatever's playing on Lexington and 29th when I get my dinner. Is Sholay any good?
posted by kensanway at 5:03 PM on August 30, 2005

I think I'm seeing this all the time

This is a recent phenomenon. I don't remember many old movies cross-referencing. The newer comedies do use old standbys (like dialogues, action) as elements. And some composite songs use it as well. Dammit, what are these songs called (where they switch between different old songs)?
posted by Gyan at 5:05 PM on August 30, 2005

posted by riffola at 5:34 PM on August 30, 2005

posted by benzo8 at 5:35 PM on August 30, 2005

benzo8 has it. I think of antaksharis as a contest.
posted by Gyan at 5:37 PM on August 30, 2005

Response by poster: I thought I was going insane. Three movies in a row!

First it was Mangal Pandey -- the first time we see Rani in the brothel, her pose, the set, everything about the shot, echoed Rekha in Umrao Jaan as "In aankhon ki masti" starts. Maybe an homage, maybe not.

Then I saw Bunty aur Babli -- at the end, when they're on the train, Bunty and Babli are sitting on floor, and Amitabh the cop is standing -- framed just like the beginning of Sholay. Then Amitabh lets them go, which doesn't make any sense -- unless he WAS his character in Sholay, 30 years older. The hell?

The very next movie I saw was Half-Ticket (from the 1950's) with Kishore Kumar and Madhubala -- and that, I swear to God, referred to Chalti ka Naam Gaadi!
posted by Methylviolet at 5:39 PM on August 30, 2005

Response by poster: I am dying to hear the Asha Bhosle Beatles tune -- anybody know what movie?

posted by Methylviolet at 5:43 PM on August 30, 2005

kensanway: two older threads.
posted by Gyan at 5:53 PM on August 30, 2005

For what it's worth, a large majority of Broadway musicals in the past ten years blatantly reference other Broadway musicals. It's really getting irksome.

"The Producers" is the absolute king of this phenomenon (including some very subtle references, like their "Little Old Lady Land" set being a parody of the design of the "Loveland" set from "Follies" from 1971), but musicals-referencing-musicals also shows up in "Hairspray", "Wicked", and others. The show "Urinetown", in its entire form, content, and style, is actually one big reference to a genre of musicals (1930's WPA works, Marc Blitzstein, Harold Rome, etc.), but also has one-line or one-dance-step jokey nods to newer works (i.e. "Chicago", "West Side Story").
posted by Asparagirl at 7:52 PM on August 30, 2005

Sholay is a fucking legend in our cinema, dude!

I know people who have seen it hundreds of times. I kid you not.

I avoid Bollywood, however. Most of the movies make my brain cells melt. ;)
posted by madman at 11:43 PM on August 30, 2005

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