‘MUSIC AND SONG ARE VERY
MUCH AN INTEGRAL PART OF
OUR LIVES IN INDIA'
Sing when you're winning
Kaleem Aftab goes down on his kness before a true Bollywood icon.
o you think Bollywood is all about kitsch
fashion. bhangra beats and melodramatic
villains with complicated facial hair‘.’ Think again. There has always been another side to Bollywood. a meaningful. political side. One of the fathers of Indian cinema. Dadasaaheb Phalke. used Hindu and traditional mythological symbolism to create a genre of national cinema which criticised the rule of the British. right under their noses. I950s Indian cinema was packed with examples of political films. but alas. just as in American — following the release of laws — Indian cinema became monopolist by films aimed at big box office.
livery so often an example of political Bollywood creeps out of the woodwork and makes it to Scotland. The latest is The Rising. starring 40-year-old acting legend Aamir Khan (pictured. left) as Mangal Panday. the Indian freedom fighter who led a mutiny against the British in 1857. Told in Hindi and English. it follows Panday’s journey from befriending a British commanding officer to fighting against him.
'What appealed to me about the script was the fact that although it was a film set in 1857. it has a very contemporary theme.~ says Aamir Khan. 'The film is talking about the concept of freedom and it questions the right of any superpower entering into another society and controlling it. ruling it and exploiting it. deciding what is good for the people who are living there. It questions the right of any country. organisation or superpower to do that. It reminds tne of America entering Iraq or Afghanistan. of what is
happening around us today.’
It's a statement that. like the film. is at odds with the popular perception of Bollywood. It's typical of the actor. who has never been one to adhere to convention. Khan is a Muslim who. at the age of 21. married the Hindu girl next door. His first appearance was as a young child in the Indian TV series Yam/(m Ki Baaraar. This gave him a taste for acting. but for the next decade he pursued a career as a tennis player. The high point came when he won the Maharashtra state championship. By the time he hit his 20s. Khan realised he would not make it as a pro and decided to give acting a proper go.
In 1988. his appearance in Quayamar Se Quayumai Tak made him a star. He has played everything from classic romantic leads to the ‘Ice Candyman‘ in Deepa Metha’s Earth. In Britain he is probably best known for his riveting performance as a village cricketer in the box office smash Lagaan.
But Khan is not afraid to burst into song when necessary. ‘I think that is a very beautiful aspect of Indian film. Music and song are very much an integral part of our lives in India. Right from the time that we are born to the time we die there is a song for every occasion. so it also seeps into our cinema. Music and song. if it is not used well. can look shoddy. but if it is well used. it can actually enhance an emotion and make it sharper for the audience.‘
The Rising is on selected release from Fri 12 Aug. See review, page 18.
THE BEST FILM & DVD RELEASES
* Crash Paul Thirtysomething Haggis delivers a witherineg complex essay on racism in LA in this excellent multi-character drama. General release.
* Football Days Hilarious comedy about six talentless middle-aged men who decide to form a football team is the fifth biggest money spinner in Spanish history and deservedly so — it's great. UGC, Glasgow. * Plckpocket Lovely new print of Bresson’s 1959 masterpiece. Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh (7 5—7 7 Aug only).
* Cafe Lumiere Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien‘s beautiful tribute to filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu. Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh (until Wed 77 Aug only).
* L’ Ecllsse Classic Antonioni gets a gorgeous brand new print. Filmhouse, Edinburgh (Fri 72-Sun 14 Aug only) and GFI', Glasgow (Tue 76—Thu 78 Aug only).
* Victim Another lovely new print of a classic movie. GFf, Glasgow (Thu 7 7 Aug only) and Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh (Fri 72 -Sun 74 Aug only).
* Dear Wendy Inspired and very odd satire of US gun culture. GFI’, Glasgow and Cameo, Edinburgh.
* The Wicker Man Blimey, another new print of one of the greatest British movies ever made. Part of the Scotch/rig the Myth season looking at representations of Scotland on film. Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh (Fri 72 and Sun 74 Aug only).
* The Bad Sleep Well Kurosawa’s controversial 1960 revenge tragedy restored to its former glory on DVD. Wonderful. Out now (BF/ Publishing).
* Double Indemnity Billy Wilder’s fantastically nasty film noir gets a lovely DVD release. Out now (Universal Pictures Video).
il-—1B Aug) 23:25; THE LIST 17