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Sterling on Bollywood
Alex Steffen, 8 Jan 04

WorldChanging pal Bruce Sterling lays out what Bollywood films he likes, and why.

"Because I watch them for sociological, trend-spotting
reasons, I tend to like Bollywood movies that are
either really unpopular or sort of ludicrously popular.
David Chute, who is my favorite Bollywood critic,
actually watches this stuff from a cinematic perspective.
I don't get excited by Bollywood cinema unless I
see them doing something seriously alien that
I am just barely beginning to understand.

"David Chute explains it all.

"If you're into cyberpunk, this is your Bollywood movie.
"Qayamat -- City Under Threat." A big hit in the
Turkey City SF Writers Workshop.

"The Hero: Love Story of a Spy" didn't do well
in the box office, but it's a kind of X-ray of
modernist Indian BJP patriotic jingoism.
Features evil Pakistanis with WMD. Thanks to
constant costume changes, Sunny Deol
acts instead of mailing in his performance.

"Fans of Edward Said imperialist orientalism
should forget modern Bollywood and check
out the sob-worthy, sequin-spangled historical vehicle
that made Rekha the dark star of Indian cinema.
"Umrao Jaan."

"This film is the "Citizen Kane" of the Bollywood
feudal-family epic -- "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham."
It made a mint. Top-notch tech skills by Karan Johar,
a loyal modern scion of the old industry.

"And if you're still hungry, check out this
Ram Gopal Varma epic of Mumbai gangster
corruption, "Company." It may be Ajay Devgan's
best role -- he is genuinely scary in this."

(There are also interesting interviews with Bruce here and here [MP3].)

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"The Hero: Love Story of a Spy" played for a week or so in Portland's outlet for terminally obscure cinema*, The Clinton Street Theater.

It rocked. The funny parts were funny, as were many of the parts that weren't supposed to be funny.

Best bit: Segments set in Canada, with stunningly bland anglos playing the natives.

Remaining mystery: Why the leading lady spent so much time carrying around a baby goat.


* They've run festivals of bloody driver's ed films, and educational films for Mormon Youth, and a two hour long compendium of Scopitone filmlets.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 8 Jan 04

Is anybody else having problems with the link to the mp3 interview?

Posted by: Anonymous on 8 Jan 04

Go here, scroll down a bit, hit Listen:

That worked for me. It downloaded the whole file to my HD.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 8 Jan 04



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