dangermousie: (Dhoom 2)


(Ranbir Kapoor in Saawariya)

This post is rather an ode to my favorite working director: the Indian filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Bhansali is an incredibly polarizing director, the way few other directors are: people either adore his movies with all their might or loathe them as meaningless, overblown indulgences.

You can guess which side I belong to. I once said that if Bhansali filmed a phone book, I'd watch it, and every movie of his I see only adds to that opinion.

His movies usually have certain underlying themes: a doomed or thwarted love, a problematic relationship with a father figure, characters unequipped for the real world, but what makes his movies stand out are not the stories (which I like well enough) but an incredibly gorgeous idyosyncratic sense of style: love him or hate him, you will never mistake a frame from a Bhansali movie for anyone else's. Often, his movies have a predominant color palette: Devdas with its gold-oranges and reds (with occasional flashes of deep blue), or Saawariya with blue-greens.



(Aishwarya Rai in Devdas)

He excels at portraying the hothouse of emotion: the self-destructive impulse, the almost-dereamlike love state, the impossibility of living without the 'other' but the inevitability of that separation. His movies started out as relatively realistic (his first, Khamoshi, set in the deaf-mute community of Goa, is recognizably our world, even if with those startling flashes of stylistic dreamworld which later become his trademark) but became more and more ihabited of their own world as they progressed (his latest, Saawariya, is as much, or even more, a parable/fairytale/meditation on love and illusion, than a concrete story). He is a nitpicky filmmater and makes only a movie every couple of years. So far he has made: Khamoshi, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas, Black, and Saawariya. He also has an upcoming movie starring his muse, Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan.



(Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherji in Black)

He is the closest I've seen a modern filmmaker come to either pure opera (in its distillation of emotion and its supremacy of music) or a silent movie. Because while his dialogues are fine, what sticks with the viewer is not the lines the characters say, but the images. His movies could be silent. What one takes away from them is Nana Patekar's contorted, weeping face when seeing his daughter in Khamoshi. Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan starring at each other, stock still, a crystal chandelier swaying between them, or Ajay Devgan's tormented eyes in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Rani Mukherji hobbling in her black shawl in Black or Aishwarya Rai running, her feet leaving red stains across the floor as she desperately tries to reach her dying lover for the last time. Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor (no relation) dancing a complicated dance with and against each other as they try to avoid the puddles on the street in Saawariya.



(Aishwarya Rai again, in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam)

In fact, Saawariya is a perfect distilation of everything Bhansali, even more so than Devdas. Inspired by a Dostoyevsky short story, the viewer is not even sure if this is real or a dream - the city is certainly a dreamscape, a place outside of time. Ranbir falls in love with Sonam, a mysterious woman who is herself pining for her unreacheable lover. And the movie is about the strength of that first love, but also delusion and image-creation and dream reality. It is emotion and dreaming as film.



(Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor in Saawariya)

So please, even if you don't have any interest in Bollywood, check him out: like him or hate him, you won't forget his movies in a hurry.



(Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai in Devdas)

A few sequences from his films, for flavor )
dangermousie: (Dhoom 2)


(Ranbir Kapoor in Saawariya)

This post is rather an ode to my favorite working director: the Indian filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Bhansali is an incredibly polarizing director, the way few other directors are: people either adore his movies with all their might or loathe them as meaningless, overblown indulgences.

You can guess which side I belong to. I once said that if Bhansali filmed a phone book, I'd watch it, and every movie of his I see only adds to that opinion.

His movies usually have certain underlying themes: a doomed or thwarted love, a problematic relationship with a father figure, characters unequipped for the real world, but what makes his movies stand out are not the stories (which I like well enough) but an incredibly gorgeous idyosyncratic sense of style: love him or hate him, you will never mistake a frame from a Bhansali movie for anyone else's. Often, his movies have a predominant color palette: Devdas with its gold-oranges and reds (with occasional flashes of deep blue), or Saawariya with blue-greens.



(Aishwarya Rai in Devdas)

He excels at portraying the hothouse of emotion: the self-destructive impulse, the almost-dereamlike love state, the impossibility of living without the 'other' but the inevitability of that separation. His movies started out as relatively realistic (his first, Khamoshi, set in the deaf-mute community of Goa, is recognizably our world, even if with those startling flashes of stylistic dreamworld which later become his trademark) but became more and more ihabited of their own world as they progressed (his latest, Saawariya, is as much, or even more, a parable/fairytale/meditation on love and illusion, than a concrete story). He is a nitpicky filmmater and makes only a movie every couple of years. So far he has made: Khamoshi, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas, Black, and Saawariya. He also has an upcoming movie starring his muse, Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan.



(Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherji in Black)

He is the closest I've seen a modern filmmaker come to either pure opera (in its distillation of emotion and its supremacy of music) or a silent movie. Because while his dialogues are fine, what sticks with the viewer is not the lines the characters say, but the images. His movies could be silent. What one takes away from them is Nana Patekar's contorted, weeping face when seeing his daughter in Khamoshi. Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan starring at each other, stock still, a crystal chandelier swaying between them, or Ajay Devgan's tormented eyes in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Rani Mukherji hobbling in her black shawl in Black or Aishwarya Rai running, her feet leaving red stains across the floor as she desperately tries to reach her dying lover for the last time. Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor (no relation) dancing a complicated dance with and against each other as they try to avoid the puddles on the street in Saawariya.



(Aishwarya Rai again, in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam)

In fact, Saawariya is a perfect distilation of everything Bhansali, even more so than Devdas. Inspired by a Dostoyevsky short story, the viewer is not even sure if this is real or a dream - the city is certainly a dreamscape, a place outside of time. Ranbir falls in love with Sonam, a mysterious woman who is herself pining for her unreacheable lover. And the movie is about the strength of that first love, but also delusion and image-creation and dream reality. It is emotion and dreaming as film.



(Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor in Saawariya)

So please, even if you don't have any interest in Bollywood, check him out: like him or hate him, you won't forget his movies in a hurry.



(Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai in Devdas)

A few sequences from his films, for flavor )
dangermousie: (Dhoom 2)


(Ranbir Kapoor in Saawariya)

This post is rather an ode to my favorite working director: the Indian filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Bhansali is an incredibly polarizing director, the way few other directors are: people either adore his movies with all their might or loathe them as meaningless, overblown indulgences.

You can guess which side I belong to. I once said that if Bhansali filmed a phone book, I'd watch it, and every movie of his I see only adds to that opinion.

His movies usually have certain underlying themes: a doomed or thwarted love, a problematic relationship with a father figure, characters unequipped for the real world, but what makes his movies stand out are not the stories (which I like well enough) but an incredibly gorgeous idyosyncratic sense of style: love him or hate him, you will never mistake a frame from a Bhansali movie for anyone else's. Often, his movies have a predominant color palette: Devdas with its gold-oranges and reds (with occasional flashes of deep blue), or Saawariya with blue-greens.



(Aishwarya Rai in Devdas)

He excels at portraying the hothouse of emotion: the self-destructive impulse, the almost-dereamlike love state, the impossibility of living without the 'other' but the inevitability of that separation. His movies started out as relatively realistic (his first, Khamoshi, set in the deaf-mute community of Goa, is recognizably our world, even if with those startling flashes of stylistic dreamworld which later become his trademark) but became more and more ihabited of their own world as they progressed (his latest, Saawariya, is as much, or even more, a parable/fairytale/meditation on love and illusion, than a concrete story). He is a nitpicky filmmater and makes only a movie every couple of years. So far he has made: Khamoshi, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas, Black, and Saawariya. He also has an upcoming movie starring his muse, Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan.



(Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherji in Black)

He is the closest I've seen a modern filmmaker come to either pure opera (in its distillation of emotion and its supremacy of music) or a silent movie. Because while his dialogues are fine, what sticks with the viewer is not the lines the characters say, but the images. His movies could be silent. What one takes away from them is Nana Patekar's contorted, weeping face when seeing his daughter in Khamoshi. Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan starring at each other, stock still, a crystal chandelier swaying between them, or Ajay Devgan's tormented eyes in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Rani Mukherji hobbling in her black shawl in Black or Aishwarya Rai running, her feet leaving red stains across the floor as she desperately tries to reach her dying lover for the last time. Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor (no relation) dancing a complicated dance with and against each other as they try to avoid the puddles on the street in Saawariya.



(Aishwarya Rai again, in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam)

In fact, Saawariya is a perfect distilation of everything Bhansali, even more so than Devdas. Inspired by a Dostoyevsky short story, the viewer is not even sure if this is real or a dream - the city is certainly a dreamscape, a place outside of time. Ranbir falls in love with Sonam, a mysterious woman who is herself pining for her unreacheable lover. And the movie is about the strength of that first love, but also delusion and image-creation and dream reality. It is emotion and dreaming as film.



(Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor in Saawariya)

So please, even if you don't have any interest in Bollywood, check him out: like him or hate him, you won't forget his movies in a hurry.



(Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai in Devdas)

A few sequences from his films, for flavor )
dangermousie: (SEI: Govinda and Shannon)
Yes, I have tons more thoughts on Saawariya. Spoilery ergo behind cut )

And speaking of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, here is one of my favorite moments in Bollywood ever, Sameer and Nandini's first meeting:



Oh God.

And here is one of my favorite songs from the movie, the very last one. Ajay is taking the torn Nandini to Salman, who is ecstatic.

HDDCS song )

Oh SLB, never change. Never ever. Who do I have to kill for you to make Bajirao Mastani?

In non-Bollywood news, a question: which drama should I finish first: My Name is Kim Sam Soon or Hello Miss? I have approximately the same amount of episodes left. Or should I finish Sapuri instead?

Speaking of Sapuri, do the the Sapuri lovers on my flist realize that the manga this is based on, has just been released in the USA? (!!!!!!) I saw the first volume (entitled 'Suppli') in the local Barnes&Noble and couldn't believe my eyes. I didn't get it yet, but I did an omnibus of the first three volumes of Tsubasa. I started watching the Tsubasa anime last year and got sidetracked but what I've seen I loved...
dangermousie: (SEI: Govinda and Shannon)
Yes, I have tons more thoughts on Saawariya. Spoilery ergo behind cut )

And speaking of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, here is one of my favorite moments in Bollywood ever, Sameer and Nandini's first meeting:



Oh God.

And here is one of my favorite songs from the movie, the very last one. Ajay is taking the torn Nandini to Salman, who is ecstatic.

HDDCS song )

Oh SLB, never change. Never ever. Who do I have to kill for you to make Bajirao Mastani?

In non-Bollywood news, a question: which drama should I finish first: My Name is Kim Sam Soon or Hello Miss? I have approximately the same amount of episodes left. Or should I finish Sapuri instead?

Speaking of Sapuri, do the the Sapuri lovers on my flist realize that the manga this is based on, has just been released in the USA? (!!!!!!) I saw the first volume (entitled 'Suppli') in the local Barnes&Noble and couldn't believe my eyes. I didn't get it yet, but I did an omnibus of the first three volumes of Tsubasa. I started watching the Tsubasa anime last year and got sidetracked but what I've seen I loved...
dangermousie: (SEI: Govinda and Shannon)
Yes, I have tons more thoughts on Saawariya. Spoilery ergo behind cut )

And speaking of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, here is one of my favorite moments in Bollywood ever, Sameer and Nandini's first meeting:



Oh God.

And here is one of my favorite songs from the movie, the very last one. Ajay is taking the torn Nandini to Salman, who is ecstatic.

HDDCS song )

Oh SLB, never change. Never ever. Who do I have to kill for you to make Bajirao Mastani?

In non-Bollywood news, a question: which drama should I finish first: My Name is Kim Sam Soon or Hello Miss? I have approximately the same amount of episodes left. Or should I finish Sapuri instead?

Speaking of Sapuri, do the the Sapuri lovers on my flist realize that the manga this is based on, has just been released in the USA? (!!!!!!) I saw the first volume (entitled 'Suppli') in the local Barnes&Noble and couldn't believe my eyes. I didn't get it yet, but I did an omnibus of the first three volumes of Tsubasa. I started watching the Tsubasa anime last year and got sidetracked but what I've seen I loved...
dangermousie: (SEI: Salman kneel)
Just got back from Saawariya. (see tag for summary and pics of this)

Oh. I have so much meta. The last time a Bollywood movie engaged me so much was Eklavya. Oh. The funny thing is, I can understand why some people loathed it. It just none of those reasons matter to me, whatsoever. Saawariya is pure, distilled Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Concentrated. If you don't like SLB you are going to loathe this movie. OTOH, if you are like me, and adore SLB (I will watch him film a phone book. He is literally my favorite working Indian director)...then you will love this.

It has all the usual SLB tropes: fantastical, highly stylized setting, fallen women, young love thwarted or transmuted, obsession with underpinning of darkness, loss, absent parental figures, wait and separation, a concentrated passion, and, above all, and the reason I love SLB so, moments of such transcendent (yes, I am not afraid to use this word) beauty, you want to hold them as still images inside your eyes.

Saawariya is really pure SLB, a movie that is part fevered dream, part expressionistic silent movie: dialogues are almost not needed in this movie: it's not about conversations, as it so rarely is with Bhansali. It is significant that two of his movies were largely set in a world of silence: Khamoshi, with the two mute parents, and Manisha Koirala mainly speaking to them through sign language. And Black, with Rani Mukehrji's character being deaf. And even in his movies without the handicap of muteness, what I remember are not words: Ajay Devgan's tortured eyes in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Madhuri's hair breaking a mirror in Devdas, or Ranbir and Sonam's sillouettes dancing a complicated dance around each other, ostensibly to avoid potholes but in reality something else entirely, dream-beatiful, dream-logical.

Lengthy write-up, comparing this to the rest of SLB's movies, and with spoilers for Saawariya )
dangermousie: (SEI: Salman kneel)
Just got back from Saawariya. (see tag for summary and pics of this)

Oh. I have so much meta. The last time a Bollywood movie engaged me so much was Eklavya. Oh. The funny thing is, I can understand why some people loathed it. It just none of those reasons matter to me, whatsoever. Saawariya is pure, distilled Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Concentrated. If you don't like SLB you are going to loathe this movie. OTOH, if you are like me, and adore SLB (I will watch him film a phone book. He is literally my favorite working Indian director)...then you will love this.

It has all the usual SLB tropes: fantastical, highly stylized setting, fallen women, young love thwarted or transmuted, obsession with underpinning of darkness, loss, absent parental figures, wait and separation, a concentrated passion, and, above all, and the reason I love SLB so, moments of such transcendent (yes, I am not afraid to use this word) beauty, you want to hold them as still images inside your eyes.

Saawariya is really pure SLB, a movie that is part fevered dream, part expressionistic silent movie: dialogues are almost not needed in this movie: it's not about conversations, as it so rarely is with Bhansali. It is significant that two of his movies were largely set in a world of silence: Khamoshi, with the two mute parents, and Manisha Koirala mainly speaking to them through sign language. And Black, with Rani Mukehrji's character being deaf. And even in his movies without the handicap of muteness, what I remember are not words: Ajay Devgan's tortured eyes in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Madhuri's hair breaking a mirror in Devdas, or Ranbir and Sonam's sillouettes dancing a complicated dance around each other, ostensibly to avoid potholes but in reality something else entirely, dream-beatiful, dream-logical.

Lengthy write-up, comparing this to the rest of SLB's movies, and with spoilers for Saawariya )
dangermousie: (SEI: Salman kneel)
Just got back from Saawariya. (see tag for summary and pics of this)

Oh. I have so much meta. The last time a Bollywood movie engaged me so much was Eklavya. Oh. The funny thing is, I can understand why some people loathed it. It just none of those reasons matter to me, whatsoever. Saawariya is pure, distilled Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Concentrated. If you don't like SLB you are going to loathe this movie. OTOH, if you are like me, and adore SLB (I will watch him film a phone book. He is literally my favorite working Indian director)...then you will love this.

It has all the usual SLB tropes: fantastical, highly stylized setting, fallen women, young love thwarted or transmuted, obsession with underpinning of darkness, loss, absent parental figures, wait and separation, a concentrated passion, and, above all, and the reason I love SLB so, moments of such transcendent (yes, I am not afraid to use this word) beauty, you want to hold them as still images inside your eyes.

Saawariya is really pure SLB, a movie that is part fevered dream, part expressionistic silent movie: dialogues are almost not needed in this movie: it's not about conversations, as it so rarely is with Bhansali. It is significant that two of his movies were largely set in a world of silence: Khamoshi, with the two mute parents, and Manisha Koirala mainly speaking to them through sign language. And Black, with Rani Mukehrji's character being deaf. And even in his movies without the handicap of muteness, what I remember are not words: Ajay Devgan's tortured eyes in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Madhuri's hair breaking a mirror in Devdas, or Ranbir and Sonam's sillouettes dancing a complicated dance around each other, ostensibly to avoid potholes but in reality something else entirely, dream-beatiful, dream-logical.

Lengthy write-up, comparing this to the rest of SLB's movies, and with spoilers for Saawariya )

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