Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dum Maro Dum

In the '70s, Bollywood films began to develop a stronger political consciousness, and take on more pressing conflicts. Earlier Bollywood films had certainly dealt with some amount of politics, but in general they had a simple message of uniting different ethnic and religious groups under Indian nationalism, as in the song "Ganga Meri Ma" (which I'll be posting later).

This clip, however, from the 1971 movie Hare Rama Hare Krishna, represents a rare note of dissatisfaction and anger. The film opens with a lengthy rant by the central character, Prashant, played by Dev Anand, who also wrote, produced, and directed the movie. He laments the international rise of the Hare Krishna movement, and the Western devotees it has attracted, saying, "These people, whose religion is smack, grass, cocaine, LSD - and whose temple is open physical relationship - these people are leading every moment of their lives only for this moment. They are all lost under the influence of intoxication and enjoyment." As it turns out, Prashant's sister Jasbir has fallen in with a commune of Western hippies, is taking drugs to numb the pain of their parents' divorce, and has blocked out all memories of her childhood. In this clip, Prashant discovers Jasbir (played by Zeenat Aman) with a group of stoned hippies (played by real-life Western hippies found on location in Kathmandu). Prashant is the serious-looking guy with the giant collar that the camera keeps zooming in on.

Philip Lutgendorf's Indian cinema site, a great source of information, claims that in the '70s, "street urchins in Indian towns were apt to greet young Western travelers with a mocking rendition of the film's hit title song," specifically the opening line, "dum maro dum," which means "take another toke." Apparently Dev Anand was not alone in his scorn for the Western seekers who flooded India in the '60s and '70s.

I found a translation of the lyrics on a website with a Photoshop spoof of the Kronos Quartet's recent album with Asha Bhosle:

Take a toke
Let the pain be erased
Say all day and night
Hare Krishna, Hare Ram

What has the world given us?
What have we taken from the world?
Why should we care about everyone else?
What has everyone else done for us?

Whether we live or die
We won't fear anyone
This age will not stop us
We'll do whatever we want

Take a toke
Let the pain be erased
Say all day and night
Hare Krishna, Hare Ram


Cryptoclassic said...

very interesting! You can find the rant you refered to on youtube also.

gjg said...

Yeah, that's a weird video... the beginning part with the Nepali girl actually comes much later in the movie. Anyway, nice clip - at the end you get to see their difficult childhood, complete with a bizarre set and unexpected cursing!