Friday, October 05, 2007

Elements of The Bindaas Bollywood Comedy

A while ago there was a Bollywood movie called No Entry. I remember yawning through this one, waking up only to marvel how anyone could find it funny. I know this is a terribly stuck up view – but I’m being honest. I was fooling myself when I thought that was the last time I’d ever see that film. Because No Entry’s success validated that of a similar comedy – Masti - and sparked a deluge of mindless, imitation “comedy” projects in Bollywood (see Golmaal, Kyaa Kool Hai Hum, Apna Sapna Money Money, Dhol, Partner, Heyy Babyy). And most of them are torture to sit through – and this is a universal enough opinion.

What are the elements of an aajka taaza Bollywood comedy?

Male Youth Appeal. This manifests itself in the form of cramming the film full of PJs, juvenile, testosterone drenched humor, lots of scantily clad women and a few similarly attired men and projecting an initial bindaas vibe. A lot of this is oriented towards "young males", often tapping into themes of finding release and validating your manhood by getting laid. Luckily I'm a middle-aged Indian male and hence not particularly offended by this opinion that Bollywood suits might have had of a younger me.

Homophobia. This seems to be catching on as a must-have trend. The mainstreaming of gay culture in Bollywood seems to be marked by portraying gay men as non-threatening, comic, effeminate types who you can always make fun of because, you know, you’re not like them and the whole thing is a joke anyway (wink, wink). Sometimes this is also manifested as a lead, in disguise, playing gay boy or someone getting slapped for making a rather timid gay pass.

Chaatas. From the Bollywood Comedy Director’s Handbook: whenever a scene isn’t working, throw a chaata in. I counted 8 in one Heyy Babyy preview, for God’s sake! This one I have a huge problem with. Because chaatas are my beloved money-shots in Bollywood films. The bigger the chaata, the more embarrassing the moment, the more I love it. Remember the mother of all chaatas that Amrish Puri handed Shahrukh Khan in DDLJ? (Actually a series of chaatas) Pure heaven! But now frivolous slapping is ruining this classic Bollymoment for me.

Cueful Sound Effects. More from the Bollywood Comedy Director’s Handbook: always throw in a sound effect such as “Toiiing!” or “Boiyoing!” whenever you’d like the audience to laugh. For particularly problematic scenes, start those sound effects to cue your audience even before the funnies begin. Your other choice is to trust your writer to script something really funny. Not good. Or trust your audience to laugh at something layered. You’ve got to be kidding.

There are some other minor elements too that may or may not be present in a laugh riot coming to your town. It’s not always that shots of a monkey or a baby are inserted into a scene to prompt you to laugh. In the spirit of seeing the glass half full, I’m thankful for that.

Movies listed with help from Leera

Also:

36 comments:

sidekick said...

Aspi, thanks for this post. validates my good sense in avoiding this jonar altogether. i'll stick with the bheja frys, the pyaar ke side effects and the ghosla for khoslas for laughs even if it sometimes is on the dark side. admittedly, i'm not the target audience for this stuff and have asiduously managed to leave the 'bitter half' to watch this stuff with his gang of buddies and leave me to suffer chick flix!

m said...

i hate bollywood comedies and most of hollywood ones as well.. sorry DO NOT WANT

Beth said...

Oh ugh. No Entry and Masti are both dreadful. Very well said, Aspi - and I'll have to refer back to this whenever I am tempted to stray :) The homophobia in particular is troubling to me - and now I am remembering Masti ...shudder.

anu g said...

Very true Aspi....the current genre of comedies are very anti-family-watching, and when some pics come on suddenly on tv, we just cringe...Though I guess kids do know much more than we think.My son had gone to a neighbours house and watched 'Honeymon Travels' there ..He returned with the neighbours 9 year old son, and announced 'Ma, do u know he doenst know what 'gay' means! My mouth dropped and I said shocked 'and u do?', he said 'Ya, of course..like what Karan Johar is"!!!!!That day I was mourning for the loss of innocence in my kids...
Yet to make it a part of every comedy is not very nice!!
Sidekick is right....Bheja Fry and Khosla ka ghosla were such lovely movies!They should make more of them.

Aspi said...

m, you should watch Wild Hogs.

And Beth, the homophobia in the same film disappointed me. Surely there are better ways to be funny!

Aspi said...

sidekick and anu g, I have seen neither movie. I'll have to make an effort to at least see Bheja Fry although you have to admit the title doesn't help things for that flick.

Manish said...

Bheja Fry was one big disappointment for me. Nothing really wrong with the movie or performances. But the entire movie was a frame-for-frame lift of Le Dîner de cons. Instead of a screenwriter, they had employed a translator.

Khosla Ka Ghosla worked for me - It was Jaideep Sahni all the way. It was one of those rare bollywood movies where the producers did not interfere with the script.

sidekick said...

anu g, we shd probably trade movie picks - i have a hunch we enjoy the same sorts of movies :)

manish, i'd heard that bheja fry was a faithful copy of a french flick but i had the advantage of not having seen it. also, if we disqualify indian films that are rip-offs of international films, i fear we will be left with little!

aspi, i defi recommend both KKG and BF along with pyaar ke side effects in which ranvir shorey was a scream.

m said...

its not like i hate comedies, i just don't find most of the gags in mainstream movies funny.. like ben stiller, adam sandler, and american sitcoms
DO NOT WANT

i am into napolean dynamite, guy ritchie movies, gummo type weird and twisted humor

Saritha said...

I saw the Telugu original a couple of yrs ago before watching 'No Entry' and when I finally saw the hindi remake,I was bored out of my wits.There were some really funny moments in the original,esp the casting was perfect.

Fardeen here proved that he's misfit for comedy(Iam not sure if he's fit for acting) and after having watched 'Hey babby',now Iam convinced that he's taken hamming to a new level.

I was pleasantly surprised that an underdog like 'Dhamaal' has evoked some good laughs amidst a plethora of comic capers in Bollywood.The plot is inspired 'Rat race',but still it was far better than 'Partner' and 'hey babby'.More surprised to know that it's directed by the drama king Inder Kumar(Dil,Beta,Ishq ..anyone?)
Leera and beth,you'll love Ritesh in this one.

Pyar ke...reminded me of umpteen holly flicks on similar plot but Khosla was quite refreshing.

anu g said...

Manish, as Sidekick says for those who havent seen the original movies, its a refreshing change!I am very desi, so dont watch too many English/French movies. So it makes it easier to enjoy Hindi movies.
Sidekick, I have to be frank, I do watch some of the slapstick movies too. When stressed out, I can just leave my 'bheja' behind and enjoy the movie.The problem is with family-viewing.So if we get a dvd at home, the remote is in my hand and its fast forward when I think it should be :).

anu g said...

What do u have to say about 'Cheeni Kum'.I saw it just a few days ago, and was actually a little disappointed. Maybe it was becos there was so much hype about it that I expected a lot.

Sidekick said...

anu g, nothing wrong with slapstick if it tickles yr funny bone. the frat boy movies just don't work for me!

i was also underwhelmed by cheeni kum --- and i expected to like it too. but the so called sarcastic humor didn't seem all that funny and the towards the end it deteriorated into bad melodrama. i did watch it on a long flight, so maybe that wasn't the best setting.

Saritha said...

After a fantastic start,'Cheeni Kum' turned diabetic.And I hate to see kids lecture adults on how to live life or patao a girl....NOT FUNNY AT ALL.

m said...

I am going to the cinemas this weekend to watch Bhool Bolaiiiyeya.

Actually I am just gonna watch Jodha Akbar trailor thats releasing this weekend. If they show it at the start then i'll watch it and then leave.

Aspi said...

Only a true ritwik fan would suffer through a comedy like that to watch just a trailor.

m said...

oyeee you...

i aint gonna be watching the movie.. I'll watch the trailor then leave asap!

and even if i have to i can go through the torture of the movie just to see a glimpse of my sexies Aishthik, then it will be worth it

http://img213.imageshack.us/img213/7047/aishty3gc9.jpg
http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/2083/hrithiklq1fc2.jpg

nuff said!

Sidekick said...

yep, thats some serious aish-wick devotion.... aish looks sublime despite there being something weird abt that pic - angle/resolution?

m said...

its the brown contacts she's wearing in the movie. i suppose so historians don't bitch and moan and say Jodha didn't have green/blue eyes

someone took a picture with their cellphone when it was on TV that could be it as well

Aspi said...

The wierdness in both pics comes from the fact that they have been airbrushed like nobody's business.

Shekhar Ki Deewani said...

Comedies nowadays arent too great...watever happened to good old Anil Kapoor comedies???Do u guys remember Kishan kanhaiya,laadla, andar bahar, Ghar jamai and another one where there was dis really hillarious song which went "Batata vada....batataaaaaaa vadaa"...wid anil K and Madhuri trying tofly..and stuff n a giant batata vada rollin all over...hehehehe...
PS:Shekhoo..please remake the song mann wid ur voice in it...lol

Aspi said...

I stopped watching Bollywood for that period (pretty much the eighties and nineties), but I'll take your word for it that Anil was funny.

Shekhar Ki Deewani said...

Hey check dis link for Batata Vada...hillarious!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIHdjVKt_l4

Shekhar Ki Deewani said...

and please see the entire video...lol

Shekhar Ki Deewani said...

hey...dis is not the rite post to talk about this topic...but can u do one on Laga Chunri mein Daag??

Aspi said...

Hmm..never heard that song before.

But the thought just occurred to me that if we were to post this song and mention that it was sung by Jagjit Singh and written by Javed Akhtar, it would bring Niranjan Manoranjan back to this blog for sure.

Niranjan said...

Ha Ha Ha.... Hi...I'm back!!
More than the song I liked the "Niranjan Manoranjan"...you see my is such that it is apt to many alterations... (neeru, nisa, alakh niranjan...etc.), but this one was too innovative.

About the master, had a very remorse/nervous last week, as he was admitted to the hospital, with low blood circulation to the brain... timely medication avoided a stoke.
Good that he is now out of the hospital... and recovering.

And..lastly... no comments about the taste of music of the folks here.... this time :-)

Cheers!

Niranjan said...

Ok just came to know that there are two Niranjans here... one who does some good work somewhere and does not make any spelling mistakes... I am the other one... who was the most hated one... after the classical & semi-classical round post of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.....

Aspi said...

Niranjan, nobody hates you man.

In fact, if you are past abusing us, you should stop by and give us your opinion on the singing quality of SRGMP contestants and whose most likely to succeed in the ghazals genre.

Niranjan said...

Hi Aspi... as mentioned earlier... never intended to hurt anyones feelings here... I do not follow that serial with all that eagerness... but the episode I watched... the Pakistani lad was the best... no denying of the fact..... he is a trained singer.

Aspi said...

That was one of his best shows. But a number of people on this blog agree with you overall as well.

OzAngel said...

I much prefer the Frasier brand of comedy... Bollywood comedies are really not that great in my opinion- no offense to anyone! Its just that there's a little too much shouting and they don't pack a punch in the dialogues.

I must confess, when I was 16 or 17 I did sort of enjoy, or at least attempted to enjoy, The Animal and some of the other inane/'crass' Rob Schneider movies. But that was then-- so can't be bothered now.

Mwa
OzAngel

m said...

i hate rob schnider, ben stiller, adam sandler brand of comedy.. i quite loved the two Guy ritchie movies.. Lock stock and two smoking barrels and snatch.. I bought the DVDs last year and yes i was a bit too late in watching them but i loved the humor..

i also like napolean dynamite, gummo and other black humor movies..

i find those funny.. but i can never find the american sitcoms funny at all.. except for My name is Earl..that can be ok sometimes

Yajnaseni said...

Having stumbled upon the Drift quite a few days ago, I re-located it using 'bagalthela' as the keyword on Google because I had forgotten the name. And I have now spent two days reading it cover to cover :).

Wanted to put in my two cents' worth on this disease known as Bollywood Comedy. My last (and I mean last) experience of this was the baby crap smeared over Akshay Kumar's face in Heyyyyy (how many y's?) Baby. I swear this is the last one. From now on, if I want to watch a funny Hindi movie, I'll put on one of Jeetendra's.

m said...

sajid khan said that hey baby would be a more appropriate movie to send to oscars cuz it grossed so much more than Eklavya

I'm not kidding and neither was he. This dude needs a brain transplant..

Aspi said...

yajnaseni, welcome. More people should search on the wonderful word if you ask me.

m, I agree with Sajid. Heyy Baby grossed much more and many more. Too bad India doesn't have the Razzies.