26 June 2008

Waiting in the Wings, II

(originally begun on 3.3.08, this is part of the "Oh, look what I found!" series)


When I was a little girl, I went through a phase, as most American girls do at about age 6 or 7, of wanting to be a dancer. I still appreciate dance, but although I live in the town that hosts the American Dance Festival, I do not seek out live dance. It used to be that I could be found at dances, even occasionally at clubs; I move pretty well, but I don't seek out opportunities to dance, except in my mind. Bollywood gives me a chance to have all the dance I want in my life and sometimes more.

When someone told me that Amitabh Bachchan was dancing like that on purpose, I laughed, thinking he was kidding. I can get with the whole "cool" aesthetic, but only if there's some actual dancing going on, and, well, there's not. Abishek is getting better than he used to be (Aishwarya's influence?), but he still seems confused by having a body that moves. (Let's hope that confusion doesn't spread to other areas of his life.)

I love watching Shah Rukh Khan dance. Just as in his acting, there is attention to every detail of what his body is doing. Even in "Deewangi Deewangi," when he's clowning around with other actors, every move has intention, and even the most pedestrian dance moves show a presence of being. Maybe it's because he and choreographer Farah Khan adore each other, but he's not there to just walk through anything.

Granted, though, I've heard that it takes a few takes for him to get a move right, because dancing is not his strongest suit. If his mangling of the Foreigner song "Waiting for a Girl Like You" in Swades was any indication, neither is singing. That won't stop the wild adoration I feel from him.

Bollywood editors, take note: Hrithik Rishan is the best male dancer in the country. Stop cutting the film every few seconds to be trendy; let's see him move for a few feet without showing off the high-tech gadgetry, as happened, sadly enough, in "Dhoom Again." The dance number was a high point of the movie, so why interrupt the man when he's doing his thing? The man has joints in his legs and back that the rest of us don't. Some people are thoroughly taken with his glossy buff-ass self, and they're allowed. As one never very taken with beefcake, though, that's not what grabs my attention. Instead, I am impressed with his knowledge of the physics of dance. Tricky camera work and fancy editing just get in the way of that.

Look! There---in the back row!

I'm hesitant to bring this next topic up. We aren't supposed to notice dancers in the chorus, although that is what they pray for. They are supposed to be mobile scenery, providing a context for the leads without asking us to actually see them, unless, of course, the plot includes a shy, earnest young woman or man in the chorus who is giving his or her all to The Dance, is working three degrading jobs just to make it, is taking care of his or her ailing grandparent with perfect good graces, and is far too ethical to fuck anyone for a part, not even the cute, kind, overattentive, misunderstood director who later learns some social skills, reveals that he or she was misunderstood in his or her advances, and becomes dateworthy---but if that were the case, the cameras would let us know about that plot device early on.

And yet.

And yet.

I think I first saw this dancer as part of the chorus in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, a thoroughly missable movie, except for two or three short scenes and whatever sequences this man shows up in. (He's in this picture over AB's right shoulder in the blue shirt and overalls. And he's over AB's left shoulder in the black tank top here.) Then he showed up in the NY scenes in Aaja Nachle. Let it be known, please, that:
  • I adore Madhuri Dixit, but in the dance studio sequences, it was hard to take my eyes off of this man. AND
  • I know that I prejudiced by my belief that most men look good in long(er) hair, but it's not that I find him particularly handsome. AND
  • I am suspicious of the anorexic-looking European white women who find themselves dancing in Bollywood movies, often in costumes too brief to be considered acceptable on South Asian women. There is not, fortunately, much of a parallel that I can see for non-South Asian men in Bollywood movies. Who knows what this man's ethnic or cultural identity is? Not I. But that's not what I find attractive about his wolfy self. AND
  • I'm sorry to be boring, but the man can dance. He's got great attitude without seeming to try to upstage anyone, he's got precision without being robotic, and he looks as though he's enjoying himself. He makes me want to dance. Not necessarily with him, mind you, but he makes me want to dance.

Kunal Kapoor is not a great dancer; like the Bachchans, he always seem surprised by how long his legs have become since the last time he checked, but his math is better, and even if it weren't, I wouldn't care a bit. He could be in sequences until we're all very old in which we hear the choreographer off-camera yelling, "One, TWO, one, TWO," and I wouldn't mind. The man can act, and he's far more handsome than anyone has a right to be. Oh, my---call the law. He's perfect with Konkona Sen Sharma, who's fabulous. They were paired in Aaja Nachle and in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, a pretty good movie whose name I can never remember. Whoever thought of that match-up needs a raise.

I'm feeling as if I need a Bollywood fix, so off I go....

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