Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who killed good Kannada cinema?

If you're thinking this is going to be one of those posts lamenting the 'death of meaningful cinema' and other similar expectorate frequently spewed by people who prefer to be called cineastes, something which sounds like a sticky paste from Dharwad anyway('Le tamma! Swalp aa cineaste tagambaara le, gabb sooLi magana!!'), you're wrong. I was talking to my friends, or frends(more on this later), today and I had this feeling we don't make the right kind of movies anymore. For instance, nowadays, people talk too normally in the movies. Gone are the days when English was flamboyantly tossed around by the heroes and, more importantly, the villains. Gone, too, are the days when the sons of the vilains used to hold parties in their houses(which always had a huge staircase leading upstairs in the middle of the living room) for their friends, usually useless layabouts, and would serve whiskey and 'mixture' (You know, 'Kaangress' or something else.) in these grand soirees.

Where are these movies? What are the values we are passing on to our children?? I don't have any children yet (that I know of), but I'm still very worried about the values that might be getting passed on to them through these newfangled movies with their logical stories and their gritty realism and stuff. Something must be done, and soon.

Where today would you find the kind of parties thrown by the sons of the villains in the old movies? The villain would usually be Vajramuni and the son would be someone like Jaijagadish. The son would usually be named Vicky, signifying his rebellious and parent-defying spirit, and he would bring home a bunch of ragamuffins for 'drinks.' This arrangement would usually be arrived at by the friends a scene earlier at a bar or pub or restaurant. There, while eating, Jaijagadish, or Vicky, would suddenly announce:-
'Frends! Ivattu party nam maneli!!'

This would be greeted with great enthusiasm by his 'frends' and everyone would then tag along to Vicky's house. There would be one or two girls also, in this group, and these would invariably be called 'Rita' or, somewhat ironically, 'Sheila.'(rare occasions had a Julie roaming about, here and there.) A Christian name signified that she was cool, or 'hep'(like they said in the '70s). You would never find a Sharada or a Padmaja or even a Vanita, let alone a Sunandamma, in these little gatherings. Those names were restricted to the heroines or the hero's sister or mother. After all, a chaste-sounding name indicated the woman still had her chastity intact. While a 'foreign-sounding' name meant she was 'characterless.'

Upon arriving at Vicky's house, Vicky would ask the poor, long-suffering headservant (this MUST always be Ramu. The 'People Named Ramu' association had signed a contract with the Kannada Film Chamber of Commerce to this effect.) to serve everyone whiskey. He would say this:-
'Ramu! Ellrgu whiskey kodu! Frends. Whiskaaaaaay!'

Then, Rita, Sheila, and the odd Julie, would start walking about, from Vicky to one of his friends to another. This signified that they were characterless women who roamed around with many men. Women in audiences would point to these women and tell their daughters, 'See? Don't go around talking to rich boys or cinema people. They are all like this!' In fact, this 'cinema-people-are-the-same-in-reel-and-real-life' belief/phenomenon persisted for a looooong time. My mother once was invited by Chi. Udayashankar to his house. He was a married man, with a son. My mother wanted to go and get his autograph, since she was a big fan of his. But one of our family friends would have none of it.
'Don't go!' he growled. 'Cinema people! They are all the same. We don't know what they'll do. Just don't go!' And she didn't, poor child(then).

Then, after Rita, Sheila and Julie became boring to the men,Vicky would then announce:-
'Frends! Eega nimgondu special suppriiiiise!'

And then, there would be Jayamalini.

If you just asked yourself, 'Who the hell is Jayamalini?', my friend/philosopher/guide/concubine/lover, you have not lived.

This is Jayamalini.

She was the grand precursor to other femme fatales like Disco Shanthi and Silk Smitha(for more on these women, go here. It has the word 'sex' written in large, friendly letters somewhere in it.). Whenever a party or a meeting of evil men was held, she would be there. Along with her illustrious sister, Jyothilakshmi, she blazed a fiery trail across the silver screen with her inimitable dance moves(antics?).

As I was saying, when someone like Jaijagadish or Vajramuni, or even the very-rotund-but-possessing-enviable-command-over-Kannada Prabhakar/Sudhir announced something like 'Frends! Eega nimgellrgu ondu sar-priiiiiies!' or 'Frands! Eega ondu special treat!', the camera would suddenly focus on something bright green and shimmering. Then we would slowly zoom away from it and it would be revealed to be an impossibly green and impossibly shimmering skirt worn by the queen herself. Slabs of flesh(what a very '70s expression calls 'love handles') would hang out the side of it, but the guys would all leer at her nevertheless. And so did we, as dumbstruck spectators. And she'd also be wearing this weird crown thing on her head which served no practical purpose. The crown, not her head; but yeah, maybe that too.

Then the music would start. It always started with a grand 'Daaannnnnn!!...Daannnnn!!' and then proceed along louder, more alarming trajectories. At the beginning of the song, Jayamalini would hold her arms at certain angles to her frame, so that her hands and her legs together formed a weird sort of trapezium. Almost all her dances would begin with her standing like this. All trapezium, no anorexia. And then the song would begin and she'd swing into action. She would begin doing a shaky motion thing with her two hands, as though she were indicating 'Can't do it. Can't do it.' to people. Which was ironic, because...you know. She really could do it.

And then after the whole dance, during which Vicky and his friends would be sittig in their chairs/red sofas/large round beds and Jayamalini would come close to them and put her arm around them powerfully enough to snap their scrawny necks off(have you even seen her arms? Go back to that photo.) and they would grin weirdly at her while sipping a brownish-orange liquid purporting to be whiskey, Vicky and his frends would bring an end to the proceedings by smashing something or by lifting her up on their shoulders. Or the hero would suddenly enter the house, totally unauthorised and unannounced, and begin preaching. "Horagade badavarige tinnakke anna illa. Illi neevu jaali-yagi whiskey kudeetidira, whiskey??" At this point, the henchmen of Vicky would begin attacking the hero one by one(never together) and get solemnly beaten up.

And then, there was the English.

(To be continued)

8 comments:

Harish said...

'You naughty' antanoo ello ondu kaDe conversation alli bandirodu.

Aamele innond enappa andre,
"Ee shatamaanada maaduri heNNu" anta anno dhaaTi alli heroine haaDtiddlu invariably. Aa heroine, invariably played by Aarti/Kalpana, would be one who would be ready to cry at the slightest pretext.

Frends, chennaagi bardidira!

Neevu yaako Rajkumar hesru direct aagi mention maaDlilla.

Spunky Monkey said...

ANNavra reference-u kaDege bantalla.

"Horagade badavarige tinnakke anna illa. Illi neevu jaali-yagi whiskey kudeetidira, whiskey??"

Jwaalamukhi endnalli, "NODu NODu NODu" haaDnalli same idey wordsoo idey ansatte. First S Janaki "See See See" antha double entendre maaDi full "heyyy" antha hyperventilate maaDtaare. Aamele, nammaNNOr bandu "See See See" antha horagaDe iro chindi aayo makkLan tOrstaare. Adu fullu cinematic geniusay, biDi.

I can also think of this cabaret-cum-educational type song from that delightful Bangaarada Panjara. With item girl from Baambay, Bindu. "Ammayya, egari egari aaDabyaaDa", I think it was.

Ivattige saaku.

Kavitha said...

Sakhat Post....

Aaga Jayamalini hakotha iddasthu batte (representing a characterless human being and all) eegina heroines hakolodilla allwa?
Jayamalini, Jyothilaxmi, Silk Smitha ivarella eegina heroines' batte nodi nachkotha iddaro yeno....

Malaveeka said...

He he. 'Frends'.

Nice post sweeTy.

Malaveeka said...

I think Spunky has trouble writng little comments.

sneha_april said...

mukhyamantri chandru du olle patented dialogues ide. neevu adanna maretbittidira...

Siri said...

Good one...am glad there is going to be a continuation :) Nanu munche nodthiddashtu (dd matra ithu, sundays news for deaf and dumb also nodtha idhe) kannada filum eega nodalla. I am sure the reason is as you have described it. Olle research material :)

Arjun Sharma said...

[Harish]"You naati!" Idanna next episode-nalli bariyona antidini.

Houdu, Aarati, Kalpana, Manjula, Bharati, Pandaribai ityadi maadari streemaNiyara bagge bardilla.

[Monkey]He he, "See see see" -- double entendre bere.

Ee Baambay bindu haadu node ilvalla naanu...nanna kaNNU tappsi hege kuNidubittru ivrella?

[Kavitha]Thanks-u. Houdu, bet they'd be a little shy about wearing what that girl from "Aa khusi se khudkushi kar le" does. Not in that song, but generally.

By the way, is it me or is that song totally stupid?

[Malaveeka] Thenks, bebbi.

He does? Haven't noticed.

[Siri]Samskruta samachara bere bartittu. Eeglu barutte.

Read your post. Very nice. :)