Thursday, December 18, 2008


The Güero's Bollywood Music Video Review for "Chaiyya, Chaiyya"

Since seeing the brilliant, yet slightly over-hyped, "Slumdog Millionare"(2008) a few weeks back, I've been peeping a few Bollywood videos on the Youtube. Well, actually, I watched some before but perhaps I've been paying closer attention. I know this entertainment isn't for all. Indeed, I don't know if I could sit through an entire Bollywood movie - I mean maybe I could, I just don't know but that's not even the point. The point is, I can completely understand why a large segment of human beings on this earth could dig this kind of entertainment in a big way.

This video from the Bollywood hit "Dil Se"(1998) is a perfect example. Yes, it's older but this song and dance number is nothing short of amazing. I'm no big song and dance man, in fact, I disdain most musicals, but just take a peep and see for yourself. Sure, there are some short comings, like I don't know where the Bollywood producers buy their film stock or where they get it processed, but all their prints look like every movie was just pulled out of a 1970's film vault with a real bitchin' humidity problem.

This scene is all shot on an open train. Remember, this was 1998 and there were probably as many green screens in Mumbai as there were enforceable health and safety codes. If this was shot in Hollywood, chances are the train would have been computer generated -and probably most of the dancers to. Just watch as the singers and dancers jump and sing on a moving- yes moving train. I doubt there was any wire work but I could be wrong. Did they lose a few dancers on the way? Hell, we'll probably never know. The limited amount of experience I have with film production gives me cause to appreciate this effort even more so. For instance, I can't imagine managing all those dancers and crew along with what was probably a near endless amount of takes and camera set-ups , including steady-cam operators dodging the talent on a god damned moving train. The weather conditions were most likely butt-ass cold and windy.

And the music? Like I said, it's not for all but the big syncopated beats along with the ethereal elements of the rhythm and vocals make this track a catchy, noteworthy one. I've read in some places that this song was used for the end credits of Spike Lee's "Inside Man"(2006). The main talent Shahrukh Khan, who is the equivalent of 'Tom Cruise' of Bollywood (Minus the Thetans), and Manisha Koirala. While I don't dismiss the star power, it's probably my own deep-rooted, cultural dismissiveness that causes me to wonder why the female actresses always are presented to be so beautiful and sensual looking while the male leads, somehow, look more like the guys I buy camera accessories from on Powell Street! (But seriously, this cat Shahrukh Khan, he even has an action figure based on his character from this movie - for serious -it's true!). Alright, so it's not what I would normally equate to a Hollyood male lead, but I embrace the global culture that surrounds me and I don't let it get in the way of good, solid entertainment - and neither should you.

Dil Ce - Chaiyya, Chaiyya (1998)

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