Every week, the very awesome Kiva Ashby gives us her expert take on Bollywood movies.
Director: Subhash Ghai
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Amrish Puri and Mahima Chaudhry
Length: 3hr 18min
Short summary: So I took it way back this week in my Bollywood film review. This week’s film is Pardes, a movie that came out nearly 20 years ago. I figured it would be good to contrast some of the old stuff with the recent movies that I’ve already reviewed. The film stars Shahrukh Khan or as the Indian film industry dubs him, King Khan. If you haven’t heard of this man then I’m here to school you on his greatness.
Khan is the Bollywood equivalent of Leonardo Dicaprio, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt and any other amazing male actor you can think of.
His character Arjun is the family friend of an Indian millionaire who is a transplant in Los Angeles California. Amrish Puri is Kishorilal, a man so in love with his Indian roots that he wants his only son to wed a true Indian woman. In order to do this, he enlists the help of Arjun to convince his Americanized son that the arranged marriage with an old fashioned Indian girl is the best option for him.
Mahima Chaudhry plays Ganga, the epitome of Indian beauty and values. She is aptly named for the Ganges River, the river that is thought to be the lifeblood of India itself. Arjun turns out to be a much better match for Ganga than Kishorilals son. This, of course, takes a good three hours to resolve and during the movie we get lots of music montages and dance sequences to help us figure this out.
There’s lots of drama and fanfare. Khan of course delivers a great performance and Puri and Chaudhry are just as good. Another reason I chose to review this film is because I think it helps make a very important point when analyzing or critiquing a piece of art from another culture. You have to appreciate it for what it is, where it’s coming from and the good that you can take away from it. There’s a big back and forth pull between the old fashioned ruggedness of India versus the forward thinking coolness of western culture. So when I pitch a Bollywood movie to a western audience, I can only sell it so far based on comparisons to Hollywood films. I don’t want them to be like American films. I enjoy traditional films like Pardes because they are filled with the song, dance and melodrama that define Bollywood to me.