Friday, 23 March 2012

Friday Night at the Movies: Om Shanti Om

Many years ago, as a struggling student, I was employed as a cleaner by a Sri Lankan family. The grandmother used to sit upstairs all day and watch Bollywood films, while I stood behind her and dusted the same spot over and over again. I was as transfixed as she was, but didn't have the benefit of being able to understand either the Sinhala/Tamil subtitles or the dialogue. But by god do I understand spectacle.

Thanks to all the musical numbers, I couldn't work out the basics of the plots either - and no wonder! For example, who'd be able to work out Om Shanti Om without the benefit of dialogue and plot?:

In the 1970s, Om, an aspiring actor, is murdered, but is immediately reincarnated into the present day. He attempts to discover the mystery of his demise and find Shanti, the love of his previous life ....
.... who is now 30 years older than him, a grandmother, and so completely freaked out by the reappearance in her life of a man she thought long dead, and who doesn't seem to have aged since she last saw him, that she drops dead on the spot [the blurb does not go on to say].

The dance scene that kicks in at around 1.17.09 is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. This is the whole film, so don't feel bad about skipping through to the musical numbers!

I once did a workshop with someone who had choreographed some Bollywood films, and learnt everything she knew about choreographing for movies from watching old Egyptian musicals starring the likes of Samia Gamal. She reckoned the trick was to get everyone to dance almost entirely on the spot and face the front as much as possible - it minimises the risk of screw-ups and retakes when time and money are both at a premium. Other than that, her workshop was a waste of $40...


  1. oh my god......
    1. The world should be grateful that I don't have the money to stage productions like this from my mind.

    2. When I had my fun detainment adventure in 2009, I only had access to about 3 channels in my cell -- sorry, room-- and one was a bollywood channel and this video played like 10 times. Whoa.

  2. 1. The world should be saddened by this. I know I am.
    2. Sorry to remind you of your time in the pokey. Is that where you learnt how to do grilled cheese sandwiches by putting a cheese sandwich in a greaseproof paper bag and then ironing it? Oh - sorry, no ... wait. I learnt that from watching a doco about female inmates on Rikers Island.