So Bollywood has nominated the film Paheli to the Oscars as India's big-screen candidate. It appears to me that Bollywood is entirely clueless as to what the purpose of the Oscars is. I saw Paheli the other day. It was the only hindi movie I have seen in the past year. It was ok, in that I was not staring at a blank screen, and I had already paid 2 bucks for it, and hence, I felt a moral and monetary obligation to sit through the entire movie. But my God, it was so fucking boring. You really have to ask yourself, is Bollywood merely sending these films like Devdas and Paheli, with their non-existent storylines, colorful costumes and overabundance of songs as Oscar nominees just because they feel the Western world is so wedded to the idea of India being a land of elephants, camels and dudes and dudettes wearing colorful flowing clothing, who are just about to break into song and dance at the earliest available opportunity that anything other than that shown in a Bollywood movie would offend their cultural sensibilities? Would make them go "Huh .. Whaaa? Indians live in .... buildings? Made of concrete? With roofs n stuff? Wearing .... regular clothes? Man, and I thought I knew my India."
Here's a news flash for you, Bollywood. I think America is kind of aware that we wear shirts and trousers, you know. And that we own cars and trucks. And that we only sing and dance when we get liquored up or when other people get married. So how about you dig deeper into your film archives and come up with something better than this crap?
Amol Palekar, the film's director, says this about Paheli : "Paheli deals with a `woman's right to make a choice". So, Amol Palekar, with this righteous sounding summary of the movie's honorable intentions, would have us believe that the movie is a social commentary, something noble, dedicated to the cause of women. And what is the choice the woman has to make in the movie? She has to choose between fucking her husband who is going to be away for a while, or fucking a ghost that has taken the form of her husband but who is going to be available for fornication. And she chooses the horny ghost, fully aware that she might have vampire children.
So basically, the point Amol Palekar seems to be making in this film is that when a woman is faced with making a choice between staying faithful to an itinerant husband and being celibate for a while, as opposed to being unfaithful and making sweet love to the first maverick stranger that comes along, in this case, one from the otherworld, choosing the latter makes more sense. What kind of noble purpose does this serve anyways?
And you know what, if a ghost can take the form of a human male, have sex with a human female, bring her to a human orgasm and later have his ghostly sperm swim through her reproductive canal, fertilize her human ovum and get her pregnant, it is safe to assume that all that spiel about being a ghost and being able to walk through walls and everything was just an excuse to get the woman into bed, and he is not really a wandering spirit. After all, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, fucks like a duck and can create little ducklings, it has to be a duck right?
And Jesus Christ, enough with the cultural megalomania. It is one thing to showcase Indian culture in a film, and another to sideline the storyline to such an extent that the film is one big melange of Rajput accents, gaudy clothing, landscapes and strange and creepy rural behavior that could pass for cute ethnic idiosyncrasy.
Come on, Bollywood, surely you can't seriously believe that this is real film-making? After all, you are the land of Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor and David Dhawan. You can do better than this. And you HAVE done better. You've just forgotten what better means.
Here's our hurricane survivor Patrix, with his views.