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another one for the books.

Posted on 2006.08.23 at 14:06
Bollywood in all it's brilliance. Three hours and twenty minutes of none stop beauty, hatred, love, and sadness. I cried, I laughed, and I would definitely see it again. No one else in the world can better express the rawness,  turmoil, and glory of human emotions, than those dedicated Bollywood screenplay writers who make Indian cinema give Hollywood a run for their money. After all, who in their right mind can explain the complexities of love in less than four hours?
 Last night I saw Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. All day I agonized over trying to find someone to go with me to this film.  I called everyone I know who might have even a slightly remote interest in discovering the world of Bollywood cinema, but to no avail.  I was not too keen on driving out to Kirkland (where the only Indian cinema in the Seattle area is located) by myself, but when at 19h no one returned my messages, I set off for the eastside for the 2nd time that day (the first was to eat at the BEST Indian restaurant in all of western washington see giovanni).  I walked into the theater to discover that I was the only one there. Well, I thought to myself, this must not be as popular a film as everyone makes it out to be. After all, it's only playing one week, you'd think people would turn out for it. At 19:30 (the time the movie was to start) I saw people begin to trickle in. Slowly, the theater began to fill to capacity. There were a dozen or so families with lines of kids streaming in, all of them dancing to the beat of the latest Bollywood songs which were being blasted from the theater speakers. Eighty year old grandmothers adorned in beautiful saris followed by their granddaughters dressed  in full on American style hoodies and jeans took their seats chatting away in the their grandmothers' native languages. Í was surrounded by groups of girls and boys sitting around joking and shouting to each other to make themselves heard over the loud music while waiting for the movie to start. And so it began.

 Karan Johar is an absolutely brilliant director. While I have never seen his satellite talk show series "Koffee with Karan" (but have toyed with the idea of getting a satellite dish for this very reason...okay this and ARTE) I am a big fan of Kal Ho Naa Ho which he directed, and Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham (which he wrote).
All the greats where featured in the film, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Father and Son Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, and even featuring a surprise performance by Kajol. Can it get any better than this???!!!!  The soundtrack was also done by the same composers of Kal Ho Naa Ho, which in my opinion tend to get a little too modern with tracks like “It‘s time to Disco” and “Where’s the Party Tonight ,” but overall create the daunting or convivial atmosphere sought out in each scene.
    The movie itself was much less of a heartbreaking tearjerker than Kal Ho Naa Ho (anyone who used less than half a box of tissues during this film has a heart of stone).  The first two hours were filled with comedy which kept me wondering when the much anticipated doom would even present itself. The intermission came and everyone filled the lobby of the theater to stock up on samosas and chai before the second half began.  The intermission reminded me of going to see a Bollywood film in France with Ujjwala. When the intermission came the French kept playing to movie, no break.  Ujjwala turned to me and said, “These silly French, they are so pressed to finish the movie they don’t even give you a break to grab some food.  Do they not realize that a Bollywood film lasts over 3 hours!! In India we take a half hour to get snacks and have our chai. Otherwise, who can sit for that long?”  She has a point. One of the main reasons that Bollywood lacks popularity among the west is because audiences feel that the films are too long.  But one is not supposed to sit through  3 1/2 hours straight.  Another difference between a Bollywood and a Hollywood film is that Bollywood is set up to create a social atmosphere. All around me people were talking back to the characters, gasping, laughing, hurling insults at the actors. During the intermission people chatted, bought food, smiled. It was quite a festive atmosphere, something lacking in most theaters.
    The rest of the movie brought more taunting by the audience, but by the last half hour one could hear more sobbing than anything. And of course, like all classic Bollywood films, in the end, after so much pain and anguish, the suffering find happiness, and the audience finds closure

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