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Bollywood within Bollywood, Jessica Gokhberg

This past weekend I watched another film of Shahrukh Khan’s called Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008).  It’s about a man named Suri (Shahrukh Khan) who fulfills the wishes of his dying teacher by marrying his daughter, Taani.  Suri is a textbook nerd; he claims to not know what love is, or ever expect to know.  Taani was going to marry a man of her choice, but he and his entire family die in a motor accident on the way to the wedding.  Taani tells Suri that she will never love or be happy again.  Suri only ever sees Taani smile when they watch Bollywood films together.  She joins a dance competition hosted by a Bombay Bollywood choreography company to perk up her spirits, and Suri decides to join as well so he can watch her be happy from afar.  He has a makeover so he looks like the gelled, tight-shirted, Bollywood Shahrukh Khan we know (calling himself Raj!); but when at home, he dons the glasses and high-wasted pleated pants of Suri.  Taani falls in love with Raj, and wants to run away with him, until she discovers at the dance competition finale that Raj was Suri all along.

The most intriguing element of this film is Shahrukh Khan’s adamant rejection of the Bollywood hero he normally plays.  There are multiple scenes where Suri watches a Bollywood film for direction of how to shape Raj.  There is even one extra-diegetic song sequence where Raj enters the movie screen to sing about how “real” Bollywood should be sung.  Suri’s best friend advises him to reveal himself to Taani, but Suri refuses.  He wants Taani to love Suri as he is, not Raj.  I was expecting that at the end, Suri would become Raj, and Taani would have both the “good” Indian man and Bollywood hero in one.  Instead, Taani refuses to run away with Raj at the end because she realizes that she “sees God” in Suri (in this film to “see God” in another person is to love him/her).  The happy ending is a reconciliation of the two male types into one perfect hero, but rather a casting off of the idyllic Bollywood hero for a love of the nerdy, faithful, and awkward every-day guy.  The film is fairly recent–released in 2008.  Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, along with other more recent films like I Hate Luv Songs, perhaps exhibit a shift in the mindset of Bollywood’s audience.  The only extravagant Hair-like song in this film was Raj’s song about how to properly sing a Bollywood song–it is meant to parody the exaggeration of emotion and dance of a traditional film. These newer movies are self-aware of the history of Bollywood within the Bollywood films themselves.  They markedly criticize the tradition, then show in their own right what the new Bollywood film looks like.

Filed by jessfg1 at January 30th, 2013 under Uncategorized

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