Jul 1, 2008


While the Indian film industry likes to claim that they are ready to go global; other sides of the planet mainly like to find bollywood an interesting cultural phenomenon to make things funnier than they already are. Spice it up Indian style. Here's one of them (again).


Chameli is a movie directed by Sudhir Mishra, and was released in 2003. One of those movies that are considered to be 'off-beat bollywood', a little more on the artistic side. Whatever we call it, it is absolutely worth watching.
Prostitutes have often been portrayed in Hindi films as beautiful but dangerous seductresses of the hero. Vamps. They dance, drink and smoke, like the men do (especially the villains). They come when the hero doesn't know what to do anymore, and tries to forget his miseries in the bar. But ofcourse, most of the time the seduced hero gets back to his senses and hence to a normal woman.
Chameli (Kareena Kapoor) is also a beautiful, smoking and drinking seductress. But her seduction doens't touch Amar (Rahul Bose), the lost soul who lost his wife as well. Not untill they start sharing their lives with each other, and in the meanwhile help eachother get rid of corrupted bad guys. Then, there is another seduction. A transvestite wants Amar as well for his services. I held my breath, expecting another comedy scene where the poor man/woman gets exposed and made fun of. Which is usually the case. But this time the character is a person, with feelings, and a future of love with another person.
After these 'shocks' you get sucked into the lives of the two persons. Just two people in the dark, trying to get a little light with eachother. The end might be expected, but then again, unconventional as well. The tension that builds between the two characters culminates in the scene on Marine Drive, sitting on a wall, when the rain has finally stopped. But tears start flowing. Seperation is near. She learnt to love. He learns to cry. Is the light gonna take over the dark?
The movie is wonderfully slow and small. No big sets, big special effects, huge songs. It plays with conventional themes of bollywood movies, but in a less glamorous way. With that it is one of the typical new movies. It uses the cliche's, song, dance, wealth and corruption, but with a twist. A twist that might tell us that bollywood is ready for movies with less predictable narratives, and possibly less conventional morality. And it is also great to see Kareena Kapoor acting before she reduced her waistline to size 32. Here's one of the first scenes.