Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi ki Har Khwaish pe Dum Nikle

August 22, 2006

Lost in translation

Filed under: Cribs,Movies — feelingroovy @ 9:37 pm

I watched Lost in Translation today. Really an amazing movie. And apart from all the artsy appreciation (about camera, colours, direction and the completely natural feel that underlies every scene) that it surely deserves, it plays host to a really hot chick in the form of its lead actress :P.

On a corny note and coming to what I meant this post for, I was thinking what is really lost in translation becomes best apparent in a movie that tries to show a culture in the wrong language. Among the movies I watched recently, 15 Park Avenue was an not-so-major example of this phenomenon. The movie of course, with the Aparna Sen level team, was damn good in terms of maturity of its characters, acting and blah blah. However putting the whole movie in English stole the free flow from a lot of scenes – especially the ones with Waheeda Rehman who was clearly uncomfortable in English and was looking really constrained roting them out. The irritatingly lassu psychiatrist was another guy who was dishing out really “complete and correct” English sentences and looking pretty clumsy in the act.

Anyway, the Indian English movie that really pissed me off lately was Fire from the queen of bitches, Deepa Mehta. I mean what was the whole point of the movie. The movie has clearly been made keeping Western audience, at best frustrated NRIs, in mind. Apart from being all through in English despite the completely Hindi-Indian setting shown, the movie starts with showing 2 symbols that sort of introduce India to Westerners the way they know it – huge mustard farms with a farmer family and the Taj Mahal.

The reason why one would hate Deepa Mehta after watching this movie is not because of the content or the kind of depiction that she chose to use, but a nagging question mark on her intent behind the movie. I am sure that if an Indian had made the movie (perhaps in Hindi) to cater to Indian audience, it would have attracted comparable amount of mass protest and censorship troubles. He, however would have had a reason behind inviting all that trouble – that he felt strongly against the hypocrisy of our society right from the premises of Hindu religious philosophy and so wanted to make a creative statement on that. Or perhaps he had a motive of bringing things (that he thought were not in the right shape) to public light and consequently be a minor instrument of cleaning things up. Similarly, a foreigner making such a movie might have been too appalled by such a society and would want to throw it apart by shedding the pretentious garb of religion that it wears. However what possible inspirational motive could an NRI film maker have behind such a production? The only statement that this movie makes is that look, I come from a really shitty place called India and I’ll tell you what its really about. You guys were pretty much right when you thought India was all orthodoxy, religion and customs but its much worse than that – the whole society is flawed right from the basics and there’s no hope of it getting any better! Any average audience would have said “So?” to this but that’s not the space where she hopes to get her brownie points from. I’m sure with all the controversy surrounding the project, loud use of symbolism and of course lesbianism, she would have had the attention of the festival circuit, won some awards and felt accomplished in life. Of course other minor things to add to one’s irritation for the movie are the use of a straight rip off Bombay’s (the movie) OST and Shabana Azmi’s childhood mother who preachingly speaks in straight monotone English.

I really wonder what came over her to have also made a movie like 1947 – Earth which was, though far from brilliant, a really nice movie with a beautiful sound track used equally well throughout the movie.

Enough after a long time! Off to sleep 🙂



  1. Interesting, me and vatsan were discussing the same thing yesterday, but a diff movie…Hazaaron khwaishyen aisi :)….. i know u are a major HKA buff….but ever felt it should have been in hindi?

    Comment by seshu — August 27, 2006 @ 8:44 pm

  2. @seshu
    Somehow I didn’t notice this too much in HKA. It looked much more natural. I thought the only people that they showed speaking in English were children of bureaucrats, Stephens’ junta and leftist student ‘revolutionaries,’ all other dialogues were mostly in very country Hindi. KK was looking a little unnatural at times, but falling into all of these 3 categories his character was bound to be an English speaking one :). Newayz any specific scenes that you are referring to?

    Comment by feelingroovy — August 28, 2006 @ 6:10 pm

  3. watch the movie again…… there’s a line between acting for theater and acting in a movie….. this is where the movie falters according to me…..the english dialogue delivery is theatrical and not filmi…..i hardly remember the movie but some scenes come to mind…. when shiny ahuja flirts with the heroine (in the first few scenes itself)….it was meant to be obvious flirting i agree but not to be exaggerated like usually done in theaters…. waise i felt the that was all pervasive in the movie

    Comment by seshu — August 28, 2006 @ 9:39 pm

  4. Ah..good writing chedi. sorry havent seen the movie so cant comment..but seems like a persuasive case for not watching it 🙂

    Comment by Kohli — September 26, 2006 @ 8:33 am

  5. @ seshu
    well agreed some scenes do lack perfect flow but relatively speaking its definately a different league from 15 Park Avenue and Fire in terms of smoothness and dialogue delivery. and i thought the scene that you are talking about was intentionally made a little theatrical to have some kind of humour to it (though it dies down unpromisingly without much of a whimper 😦 )

    @ kohli
    thanks. yes don’t watch Fire. and neither Water.

    Comment by feelingroovy — October 27, 2006 @ 5:43 am

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