Bollywood movies

Bollywood movies today must be shamelessly camped again

Last night I watched Malá Morska Vila (1976), the Czech version of The little Mermaid. Not because I’m a movie buff (the only filmography I’m familiar with belongs to Govinda and Shah Rukh Khan), but because I saw a tweet about this movie’s gorgeous ~aesthetic~ (and partly because I’m at unemployment.) The OP was absolutely right – the movie was fascinating. The actors playing the mermaids didn’t have fishtails or shell-shaped bikinis. The budget for the whole movie was probably less than the money spent on coloring Ariel’s hair in the upcoming adaptation of The little Mermaid. More importantly, the source material was close to what Hans Christian Andersen envisioned, not the sanitized version Disney wants us to watch.

The most striking thing about it was undoubtedly the fashion. The colors, the outfits, the hair – oh my god, the hair was spectacular. This movie probably invented that “seapunk aesthetic” that Tumblr was obsessed with a decade ago. After that I looked Revenge (2022). Starring Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes, this film was essentially the answer to the question, “What if we took Strangers on a train (1951) but giving it the aesthetics of Gossip Girl (2007-2012) and the dialogues of Mean Girls (2004) ? I didn’t know I needed this movie so badly until I watched it. It was unbalanced but glorious, and it really made me miss the “extra-ness” of the Bollywood movies I grew up watching and loving. In the quest to be taken seriously, many Hindi films seem to lose the edge that made them stand out.

It took me back to when we were making movies like Rakesh Roshan’s 80s classic Khoon Bhari Maang (1988). Rekha’s look, her makeover, her thirst for revenge, this enthusiastic crocodile… this film truly had everything. Then there was also his ‘reincarnation on the cocaine saga’ Karan Arjun (1995), a movie where Rakhee’s character is such a drama queen – and rightly so, if I may add – that I can’t believe her tormentors didn’t just burst into flames the moment she watched them . With Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (2000), Rakesh took the best parts of Khoon Bhari Maang and Karan Arjun, giving us a gloriously campy revenge drama with shocking deaths inside bodies of water, lookalikes, the big dance number at the climax, and serious fashion goals.