best opening credits ever: Rangeela

Watching Rangeela gave me a really good idea: write a post using no text other than screen captures of subtitles. But I couldn't quite make it work with this movie, so regular text it is. That said, there are a lot of moments in this movie in which the image on the screen and the subtitle seemed to have been arranged for maximum comic effect, and I'll include a few here and let you make up your own jokes. This, by the way, is the hidden benefit of having to watch Bollywood with subtitles. All you fluent-in-Hindi people - you think you're so smart - miss out on these gems. More on that in a post on Bollywoodbloggers (ich verspreche, Michael!).

Also, I want to apologize for what's turning out to be a long list of asides, made-up adjectives, and parenthetical comments - with very little actual text in between items. I can't quite collect my thoughts, but here they are anyway, uncollected.

I loved the beginning of Rangeela, going from the sounds of a Mumbai street (at least, I assume that's what that is) to a bouncing projecter reel of film luminaries

to our heroine's dream sequence "look at me, I'm so great" song.

(I also like that the poor dog seems frightened of the crazy kicking girl.) What a fitting way to set up a gentle, loving, sometimes quite funny film about being in pictures.

While Mili was so unempathetic that I couldn't bring myself to root for the triumph of Munna's love, everything else was so satisfying that it didn't really matter. Note I didn't say "everything else was so good." There's a lot in this movie that I didn't really like much, but almost everything was enjoyable, from Urmila's shockingly awful outfits (this movie brought to you by bicycle shorts!)

to Jackie's shockingly awful outfits

(you might think the speedo would have been enough, but no, the list of "please don't ever wear that again" goes on) to Aamir's stupid hat and mesh "cut banyans" (thanks for the less cringe-inducing term, Maja).

Because no matter how many strange yellow outfits they throw at us,

this is still the movie that gives us the flying couch, which is basically the reason I bought it. It will never be in my top twenty favorites, but I like this movie, even if I can't explain why. The philosophy of know when to say what you feel and know when to keep quiet - and then do those things - always appeals to me, and even though I didn't like Mili, I wanted Munna to at least try. In the fantastic song in which he tries to figure out what to do,

all I could do was yell at the screen: "Pick a balmy summer evening and take her to the Gateway of India! It works for everybody else!" You gotta try, right?

The ending, however, stank. Waaaaay too convenient. Her love for Munna came out of nowhere. Yes, they had the classic "if he pulls your hair, it means he likes you" sort of thing going on, but that needed to develop a bit more for me to believe that she actually loved him and wasn't just suffering from a case of "didn't know what I had until it wrote me a heartfelt note and skipped town."

Is Urmila always this hyper? This character constantly bounced, wriggled (even doing what looked to me like a predecessor of the Hrithik wriggle,

although with men with guns instead of hip New Zealand club kids), and, well, I guess we have to call it writhing, which seems to be the theme of the last several posts, sorry about that (unless you're into that kind of thing, in which case you're welcome). I know the character is an eager movie wannabe, but goodness. Calm down.

I really enjoyed all the dancing in this, even the sequence in which the backup dancers drum on their derrieres

(which also somehow reminds me of Thoroughly Modern Millie's tapioca-slapioca song) in an inspired moment of combining sultry with artsy with funny. I had to watch most of the songs twice, just 'cause they were fun. This is not A R Rahman's finest hour, in my opinion, with its late-night talk-show electric bass all over the place, but solidly interesting and fun.

Now. You all know how much I love seeing Aamir Khan dance - or do anything, really - and he was definitely the high point of this movie for me, even if I hadn't gotten to breathlessly watch him do the following:

Damn. As with Mili, I didn't like Munna, but I enjoyed every minute he was on screen. An effective performance as always - so reliable, our Aamir.

I don't know if I'll ever watch this again - and I probably shouldn't, even if just to send Jackie a message that it is not cool to steal Babasko's shirt - and I may even give it to the video store in case they'd like to add it to their offerings, but I'm really glad to have seen it, not just because people told me I should but becuase it was a pleasantly entertaining few hours. Mission accomplished.

Let me leave you with just one subtitle-inspired joke.

"Copy a scene from 'Thriller,' that's what!"


DC said…
A very colorful, picture-esque review. So, what was the storyline? Oh, and what does tapioca slapioca mean?
Maja said…
Ah, the "cut banyan" is entirely thanks to Filmiholic, she told me about it :)

I LOVE the "Well? What's so funny?" screencap, nice colour coordination! Teehee.
Anonymous said…
You remember the tapioca song from Thoroughly Modern Millie?!?!

It's true. We were seperated at birth...
ggop said…
Aamir represented the quintessential "roadside romeo" (a euphemism for gropers/people who whistle at you if you appear remotely female)

The funny thing is Jackie is supposed to be so suave and sophisticated but clearly the wardrobe dept decided otherwise :-)

I enjoyed Rangeela in 1995 - I can't watch movies from the 70's and 80's for some bizarre reason. (Even Hollywood movies!) Wonder if I can watch it again.
Anonymous said…
Beth - Some of the outfits were exactly what the character/story demanded.
Aamir was shown as a "tapori" (street bully)..and his "mesh banayiaan" was quite appropriate for it...and even his weird cap. This is what most of the ruffians wear on the streets.
Susania said…
"Tap, tap/Tap, tap/Tap, tap/Tapioca, everybody!"

As always, you show exceptional musical taste. I love Millie so...

Rangeela is one of those movies that had good moments and a lot of bad ones too; but I don't dislike it, per se, because Aamir was so completely in the moment throughout the film. But it's not one I ever care to see again, because I also was terribly bored by Urmila... *sob* I just wanted him to be happy...!
Anonymous said…
Nice Bollywood-log... Go On!

Johan Manschot

:: Behind the Scenes of Hindi Cinema ::
A visual journey through the heart of Bollywood
Sharon said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sharon said…
's funny, I remember Rangeela being just so *cool* when it came out... but then I thought Hum Aapke Hai Kaun was the best movie ever when I first saw it (in my defence, I was 10 at the time.)

also, i tag you! go see my blog for more details.
DC - I'll email you the plot. Or check out - he's very extensive with plots.

t-hype - of COURSE I remember it! It's genius! Slapioca everybody!

ggop - I'm with you about Jackie. Just wasn't buyin' it. I have a hard time with pre-KKHH Bollywood from the 1990s, although I'm nto sure why. I very rarely like movies made 1990-1997 or so.

UIUC_anon - oh, I have no doubt there was a reason. I'm just amused, what with my smug 20-20 hindsight :) I feel this way about most clothing in movies from the 1990s.... ANd part of it is shame at my own high school and college wardrobes....

Susania - RIGHT ON! Urmila is totally boring, but like you say, it's hard not to be empathetic to Aamir's character. Any of his characters.

Sharon - I hate HAHK! And you are excused, since you were 10 :) And I did your tag already - it's the second post down at my other blog in August
Movie Mazaa said…
I actually happen to know a guy who has seen the film not less than 13 times in a cinehall, just to watch Urmila in Tanha Tanha Yahan Pe Jeena...

Movie Mazaa said…
U hate HAHK???

Anonymous said…
checkout more on rangeela at chakpak .

Its great. urmi is awesome ..

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