Saturday, June 05, 2010

Cha Cha Cha! Bahut Accha! Award: the hubris of Beth

There I was, idly flipping through Govinda songs on youtube, because, far enough along in my current attempt to understand his appeal, Pyaar Karke Dekho, to have reached what seems to be The Dramatic Turning Point after Which Things Will Be More Serious, I still do not understand what people see in him. Call it spelunking, call it self-education, whatever. Anyway, I clicked on this song because...well, frankly, because it was sparkly. "Ho hum," I thought. "More Govinda dancing around in a somewhat insane shiny outfit on a stage with a bunch of backup women in ill-coordinated, somewhat insane shiny outfits." I thought back to a great exchange between Memsaab and Todd about how viewing countless Bollywood films has really upped our expectations and left us occasionally shocked at our own demands for what qualifies as noteworthy or delightful:
Memsaab: "What does it say about us that we don't find a child in a bad chimp suit, a man fighting a stuffed tiger, and a woman named Disco Shanti eaten by a spider enough to be a rewarding movie experience?"
Todd: "You're right, Memsaab! How many item girls have to have their heads eaten by spiders, and how many children dressed up as animals, for us to feel like we've been properly entertained? I feel like Caligula."
Even in my relative naiveté about Govinda, that's about how I feel, if you swap out their item lists for spandex pants, glittery tops, prancing in boots, and blinking stage sets. And that's what this song seemed to be. I mean, yes, to my western eyes, a 6-pointed star first reads as a star of David, so I did a double-take as he danced on one on the floor before realizing that perhaps it was just a 6-pointed star. And yes, I winced a little at the dancers' yellow gloves and wished the costume designer had left Govinda's neckerchief to the experts.

And then.

Then 1:27 happened. Behold:

("Yeh Pyaar Ka Jadoo")

[Spoilers if you haven't seen the song!]

Giant robots holding swords flanking a crucifix. That then fades into Govinda and a giant red heart. And then the unfortunately-clad dancers sway with pairs of candles like some sort of disco communion. And then the crucifix again! And then back to silver top hats and blinking lights. And then more fading hearts...and Gandhi! It's as though the director heard my "ho hum" from across the decades and sprinkled a handful of completely surprising ingredients just to teach me a thing or two.

At this point in the song, I really had no idea what to expect. I'm not sure what could have followed crucifixes, robots, and Gandhi in any kind of reasonable - or even emotionally satisfying - way. Unfortunately, the song fails to deliver any further pleasures, turning its back squarely on the WTF of the first few minutes and trotting out the old standards. Breakdancing moves? A bored audience? Hokey music notes decorating the walls like a grade school classroom? Twirling around pretending to play a really 80s-looking guitar? A shower of glitter? Snore. Wake me up when Rishi Kapoor flies across the stage dressed as Hanuman in a sweater in pursuit of a ten-headed Ranjeet.

I would love to know the backstory to this song, though.

Fortunately for me, there's a great opportunity coming up to try once again to learn more about why people love, or at least enjoy, Govinda: Totally Filmi is organizing Chichi Week starting on June 14. I will probably only be able to contribute one post, but I will certainly be reading (and watching - these should be some fantastically clip-heavy posts!) with glee. It's my challenge.

Thursday, June 03, 2010