Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dil To Pagal Hai and Books In Movies

After coming back from work, nothing refreshes my mind like watching a Hindi movie does. There is a certain joy that comes from re-watching a film I love; it is like the feeling that we get when our favorite song comes on the radio. Yesterday, I was watching parts of Dil To Pagal Hai. I have loved this movie since its release, and have been judged by one and all for saying that it is one of my favorite Yash Chopra films. So, as I started watching, I noticed something different this sometime. As always, I over-analyze but movies are our own interpretations, no?

At one point, after Nisha (Karishma Kapoor) injures her ankle and is being treated in the hospital, we see that she is reading a book called The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. It looks pretty innocuous, and it appears to be like one of Dan Brown's paperbacks. Wikipedia says, "The Celestine Prophecy is a 1993 novel by James Redfield that discusses various psychological and spiritual ideas that are rooted in many ancient Eastern Traditions and New Age spirituality. The main character of the novel undertakes a journey to find and understand a series of nine spiritual insights on an ancient manuscript in Peru. The book is a first-person narrative of the narrator's spiritual awakening as he goes through a transitional period of his life." It further adds, "In the novel, the manuscript was found in the ruins of the Maya civilization in Peru, whereupon the Incas took up residence in the abandoned Maya cities after the Maya had reached an energy vibration level which made them cross a barrier into a completely spiritual reality." This last sentence left me really surprised. Why? Because the name of the imaginary girl that Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) loves is also Maya. This is too unlikely to be only a coincidence. And, if it is, it is too creepy to be one. Earlier in the film, Nisha had said to Rahul that she does not get the character of Maya. Nisha believes that Maya does not want to come out of her dreams and girls like her do not exist these days. Rahul says that Maya is not like the girls of today; she is different. So, did his idealistic Maya symbolically refer to a utopian Maya civilization, one that is called as one of the greatest since time began? And, Nisha reading a book on Maya civilization a somewhat cryptic hint at her efforts to understand Maya? She loved Rahul immensely and was this a way to understand how she can emulate herself to be like Maya—Rahul's dream girl?

Dil To Pagal Hai's choreography is spectacular. Shimak Davar, rightly, got the National Award for best choreography. It revolutionized Hindi film dancing. One of the most amazing things about his dance are the background dancers. They are so good that, sometimes, we just look at what is happening in the background, perfectly in sync and as well dressed as the lead dancer. Sometimes, I wonder how do people get such creative vision? I have zilch creativity. Just look at the fabulous costumes used in the songs in the films. As to dance, Shiamak uses a fusion of contemporary jazz, freestyle, and Kathak in the film. It is simply amazing. Even in Taal, the choreography is so good. In many interviews, Shiamak has talked about his spiritual inclinations. He says, "Dance is a spiritual experience. It helps balance mind, body and spirit. It helps you to break free and brings you closer to the world God has conceived for you. It was about taking the motto of 'Have Feet. Will Dance' one step further to ' Have Spirit. Will Triumph.' I wanted dance to reach everyone, to be able to bring a smile on their face and to heal them. Dance works as therapy, it heals. Music in itself is therapeutic, it's almost like meditation. With dance one allows their body to move in a certain way, express various emotions and let their inhibitions and frustrations out. It is a beautiful form of letting go.” It is worth noting that Rahul wants Pooja (Madhuri Dixit) to dance like Maya, and the words that Shiamak said are exactly the way Maya dances. "Tum dil khol ke nahi naach rahi ho. Maya ke naach me mohabbat hai, junoon hai, guroor hai." And, then, Pooja dances with passion and without any inhibitions. As they say, "And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." There is a very beautiful moment where just before dancing like Maya, Pooja bows down to touch the stage. Even in such a contemporary style, there is a traditional element. But, what surprised me the most, and again, I over-analyze, was the jugalbandi between Rahul and Pooja. Rahul plays the drums, and Pooja dances Kathak with her ghungroos. It is a fabulous piece of choreography, and Madhuri flies in it. Maya is as pure as the white dress she is wearing, and she dances her heart out when no one is watching, in the moonlight (the spot light gives a distinct impression that it is moonlight). Maya is the ideal Yash Chopra heroine. Also, note the painting of Vitruvian Man in the studio. The painting demonstrates the blend of art and science during the Renaissance and Leonardo da Vinci believed the human body to be an analogy for the workings of the universe. The patented pose of Shah Rukh could in Dil To Pagal Hai mean something else. The pose that Rahul gives after seeing Pooja's dance is like a mirror image of the Vitruvian Man. He stands in the circle of light with his arms and legs stretched, exactly like the man in the painting. Considering Shiamak's deeply spiritual inclinations, was it intentional? Most of the people who read this would call this total crap, but I like to believe that it might have a deeper meaning.

And, Nisha—I love her. There is a brutal honesty in her that is immensely heartbreaking. She loves Rahul, and she knows that Rahul does not love her, but she does not try to force herself on him. When she gets to know that Rahul loves Pooja, she feels jealous. She says that she should be happy about it, but instead she is not feeling good at all. It requires great courage to acknowledge one's true feelings, especially, if they are not good. She apologizes to Pooja because of her competing behavior with her as she was feeling jealous. She says, "Mujhe khud se dar lagne laga hai, Rahul," and, then, she goes away so that she can stay away from him for sometime. She might not have got Rahul, but she came out as a much better person, who has learnt to accept her flaws, and about the unfairness of life. She would take time to get over Rahul, but I hope she found someone who is able to keep her happy. 


This week in the Outlook magazine, there was an article by Diptakirti Chadhuri, about books read by characters in Hindi films. I have loved finding the books characters read in movies, and any movie that I watch, I make it a point to note that. To my utter surprise, I found that the article credited the source as the Hindi Movies Quotes Facebook page, which I manage. I, also, want to write such articles, but no one gives a chance. I have applied to many places but no one gets back. The article is here. And, I found so many more books in the last week. Adding them, and some of the old ones from the page below. More on this page or follow me on Twitter, where I post with the tag #BooksInMovies.

Riya in Hum Tum reads The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell. The book is about by a young wife who has disappeared and chronicles her relationship with a mysterious man she meets at a library group. Interesting parallels with Riya's life whose husband dies, and she meets Karan on a flight.

Naina in Kal Ho Na Ho reads A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You by Amy Bloom, and 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda. Of course, she is in love.

Susanna in Saat Khoon Maaf reads Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Anna's tragic story is like Susanna's.

Nisha in Dil To Pagal Hai reads The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. 

In Bombay Talkies, Gayatri reads Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. The lack of sexual passion in Gayatri's own marriage is made worse by reading the kinky escapades of Ana Steel.

In Wake Up Sid, Aisha reads The End of the Affiar by Graham Greene. The novel examines the obsessions, jealousy and discernments within the relationships between the characters, just like Aisha's with Sid's.

In Highway, Veera holds Women Who Run With The Wolves, a book that celebrates, and normalizes women who have gone the distance and completed the work to find happiness and healing of their souls. Replace book with the film and that is what Highway is about, too.

In Masakali song from Delhi-6, Roshan reads Demons of Chitrakut, a book which is a modern retelling of the events of the Ramayana. That is absolutely true of the movie Delhi-6, too, where the evils of society are linked to events from the Ramayana, such as the similarity of treatment of Jalebi and Shabri. And, yes, there are actual scenes from Ram Leela in the movie as well.  

In Cocktail, Veronica's room has Wildcat by Craig Thomas, Big Lies by Joe Conason and Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes. Expectedly, and in line with her character, there are copies of books titled Cocaine and Kama Sutra as well.

I have so many more pictures to add but more later. So much to write.

Dialogue of the day:
"Aur paas, aur paas, aur paas."
— Rahul, Dil To Pagal Hai

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