Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pal Bhar Ke Liye

Hema Malini really needs to get in touch with a contractor who can help her out with her home's ridiculous profusion of windows. Maybe she can start a support group with the current occupants of Philip Johnson's Glass House. By my count, she's pursued by Dev Anand through 15 different windows in this clip from the 1970 movie Johny Mera Naam. (Yes, they spell "Johny" with one N. No, I have no idea why.)

The actual plot of this movie involves some convoluted twists relating to whether Johny (Dev Anand) is a gangster or a police agent, but the focus of this song is squarely on the charm and joy of a good old-fashioned romantic stalking. You don't see this happen quite as much in more contemporary Bollywood films, but apparently, in the '60s and '70s, stalking was the socially acceptable, logical way for your leading man to woo the leading lady. Remember fellas, No means Yes! So, Dev Anand proceeds at a brisk clip of 5 window-privacy-invasions per minute, taking a brief detour through the conveniently placed Wall of Inexplicable Circular Holes. If the setup here isn't creepy enough for you yet, let me just mention the 26 year age difference between the protagonists. And then shudder.

Finally, Hema Malini gives up her stalker abatement program after falling into the bathtub and pounding on the security window as if to say, "Quit it, you idiot, I just fractured my tailbone!" Naturally, Dev Anand ignores her and continues singing. Incensed, she grabs a pole and decides to finally bring some sanity to this whole situation by impaling the guy. But for some reason (his ridiculous schoolboy outfit?), she takes pity on him and decides that heck, maybe she does love him after all. No surprise there - in all the many romantic stalking scenes I've seen in Bollywood movies (there are plenty of great ones that I'll be posting at some point), I can't recall a single one where the heroine's feeling for the hero isn't warmed significantly.

I found a great forum where people are contributing translations of Bollywood lyrics, and oddly enough, this song has only one reference to windows:
Standing at the window...
Accept the saint who is standing at the window
Even if it's false

Somehow, he's able to charm her despite repeating this "Even if it's false" line many times throughout the song, and a generally kind of sad tone:
You are the most beautiful out of all the beauties
My face too is not that bad
Sometime do look at me too
Even if it's false

By the way, if you have an odd feeling that you've heard this song before, it might be because it apparently was used in a Simpsons episode.


Lizzie said...

This is a wonderful blog. I'm so glad I found it. I hope you keep writing!

P.S. How do you feel about the use of Gumnaam in Ghostworld?

gjg said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I've got a huge backlog of these clips, so I should be able to keep writing for quite a while. :)

I have slightly mixed feelings about the clip in Ghost World. On the one hand, it's a great clip, and I think it fits into the movie pretty well. On the other hand, it's led to a lot of awkward conversations along the lines of:

Random person: Yeah, so I'm really into Bollywood.
Me: Oh wow, really? Me too! So are you into '60s, '70s stuff? Do you like Shammi Kapoor? Is Helen awesome or what???
Random person: Um... actually I've just seen that one song that's in Ghost World.
Me: Oh.

Lizzie said...

I think you're right. It was a great choice for the film, but it's become many Americans' only reference point for Bollywood. Perhaps one reference point is better than none at all? Who knows.

Cryptoclassic said...

it's ironic that the only time I watched Ghostworld, I missed the opening few minutes. I missed the bollywood clip and the girls rapping. Which are apparently the cultural touchstones of the film.

Lucy Moran said...

I was had tears rolling down my cheeks - this is totally awesome.

s.j.simon said...

I love bollywood songs! Check out this site… it has awesome lyrics from thousands of songs

mashrafi9 said...

I love this song. So many times I've listen to this I can't count at all.