Thursday, August 22, 2013

Singing and dancing and clapping and -- oh yeah -- lots of murders

There's a scene in Raja Nawathe's 1965 film "GUMNAAM" that encapsulates what I love about BOLLYWOOD movies.
It's a song-and-dance number featuring the dancing of HELEN (playing Miss Kitty) and the song "IS DUNIYA MEIN JEENA HO TO SUNLO MERI BAAT," sung by LATA MANGESHKAR.
Miss Kitty frolics at the beach, clapped by onlookers and plays with beach balls as the catchy song builds to its climax.
It's a scene of joy.
It's also a scene in the middle of a film in which an unknown assailant kills off the characters, one by one.
Indeed, by the time Kitty dances her way around the sunny beach, four of the three characters have been murdered, and the survivors seriously wonder when they will meet their doom, too.
The greatness of Bollywood is that such a scene only seems incongruous upon reflection.
Imagine such a scene in an American slasher film, and it would seem like a jarring slap in the viewer's face.
In "Gumnaam," the viewer can't help clapping along.

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