Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Another Film Celebration This Weekend in LA LA Land.

When posting interesting things to do this weekend, I forgot to mention the "FILMI MELODY: SONG AND DANCE IN INDIAN CINEMA" series at UCLA.

Here is a description of the event from the Archive Calendar:

The Archive's 2005 showcase for some of the best products of Indian popular cinema has a few new wrinkles. We are now calling it Filmi (rather than Bombay) Melody, in order to suggest that the exuberant music and melodrama so closely identified with the Hindi commercial cinema produced in Bombay (Mumbai) are truly pan-Indian.

Also, this year's series celebrates the work of three of contemporary India's top stars:
Amitabh Bachchan, the industry-defining "angry young man" of the 1970s, voted the "greatest star of stage and screen" of all time in a BBC online poll and still a major leading man in his 60s;
Kamal Haasan, the chameleon superstar, arguably Indian cinema's leading method actor, who has dominated South India's Tamil-language movie industry for two decades;
and Shah Rukh Khan, a new kind of Bollywood megastar whose popularity owes an unprecedented debt to audiences in the global Indian diaspora.

This is still, of course, a celebration of melody, because the music in popular Indian films continues to be an excellent early warning system of stylistic changes on the horizon. One of the most hopeful recent developments has been the rapid growth of a sharply focused neo-classical movement among younger actors and directors. Remakes of Golden Age classics have been released or are in the works, and one of the past year's biggest hits, choreographer Farah Khan's directorial debut MAIN HOON NA (I'M HERE NOW), is a frank and affectionate homage to the sort of high-'70s masala movies parodied a generation earlier by Manmohan Desai in AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY. The changes are especially evident in the way songs are being picturized. In some of the best new Bollywood movies, such as Ashutosh Gowariker's SWADES (2004), the hero sings while sauntering along a country road like Dev Anand or slouching over a piano like the young Raj Kapoor. He no longer feels obliged in every case to do what lyricist Javed Akhtar calls "aerobics" in front of a chorus line of item queens.

As the title character of last year's crowd-pleaser MUNNA BHAI, MBBS, would likely put it: "Lose the tension, yaar. Relax and enjoy."

Curated by David Chute and Cheng-Sim Lim
Special thanks to: Ramesh Ramaswamy, Chandra Hasan—Rajkamal Films, Uma da Cunha, Isa Cucinotta—Film Society of Lincoln Center.

I was forwarded the information by event curator David Chute.

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