Sunday, 7 December 2008

Kal ho naa ho (Whether tomorrow comes or not/Tomorrow may never come)

I'm loving the juxtaposition of this entry with Baghdad St. and the fact that they happened on the same day.

Last night, I kicked back in front of white boy's computer to watch a film he's been bugging me to watch for years. Even though I was reintroduced to Bollywood about five years ago, I have to say, I've only seen Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham in full, IIRC, though CJ and others can correct me. Not out of any wish to avoid them, but because there are only a few people with whom I can watch them - white boy, as stated above; CJ, who's in the States; Almut, who's in London. Yaq is a possibility.

So, when I told white boy that I was coming to the big city, he asked what I wanted to do. I said that I still hadn't seen Kal ho naa ho (he'd shown me a snippet ages ago), so he suggested we watch that.

He insisted on using the English subtitles (which he finally found under 'Dutch' or something), which I tend to find distracting, and quite often, missing the sense of what was said. I was surprised, since his Urdu is miles better than mine, as he taught in Pakistan for several years.

So, when we were partway through the film, I asked him, "Erm, white boy, do you need the subtitles?"

"Yes."

"Oh," I said, trying not to sound surprised.

"It's Hindi and it's too colloquial."

My eyebrows nearly hit the ceiling. *I* don't need them, why should he? He lived there, colloquial would have been what he spoke; and Hindi and Urdu are like nearly identical twins, except for the script.

He carried on, "See, like right there. He said, 'paanj saal kilia'. It should be 'panj saal se' - He said 'for five years' and they always say 'since five years'."

Now, I could be wrong, but 'paanj saal kilia' didn't jar me - I'm sure I've heard it used more than once. I think it's valid. Yaq, if you have a thought on this, post a comment, homeboy. And lose the Lucknowi Urdu, ja? Of Pathan descent you may be, but you're a Lahori boy. Speak like one. ;)

I was also chuffed to realise how naturally I translated - my parents only spoke English to us, so none of my mental processes are in Punjabi/Urdu, but for the most part, I translate into English effortlessly, unless the vocab is unusual (obviously). I'm better than white boy, proving the truth, I guess, of his comment, "I may have lived there, but it will never be my culture like it is yours."

The second thing that interested me was his comment on the hand gestures as choreography. I said, "No, white boy, *I* move like that when I'm gesturing and talking to a Pakistani. My hands do that naturally."

[Ari, you may want to look away now. Spoilers below.]

Back to the movie, which was brilliant. The story revolves around a young woman, Naina, whose father committed suicide, leaving her mother to raise their children alone, with the unfortunate addition of the mother-in-law who blames her for the suicide. Naina, angry and sensible, is driven crazy by these rows, and escapes to her MBA class and her somewhat senseless best friend Rohit (I mean, how stupid do you have to be to tell a female friend that she's not pretty and sexy??)

Enter Aman, her new neighbour, and begin the verbal sparring that always indicates fabulously explosive chemistry and the possibility of a love *and* lust relationship. To cut a long story short, Aman loves her, but is dying, and so convinces her he doesn't when she realises that she is in love with him, and sets her up with Rohit.

The song below is from Rohit's and Naina's engagement party. Rohit's Gujarati family begin the custom of competitive singing with a...short, valiant attempt. At this point, kicked back, with my legs over the arm of my chair, I turned to white boy and said with the self-assured certainty only a Punjaban could have in this situation:

"You know, the Punjabis are about to kick their ass."

"Oh yeah. You know, it was choreographed by three Sikhs, which is why it's really Punjabi/bhangra."

"Is that a problem? And Sikhs aren't the only Punjabis, you know."

"No, but they're almost a caricature."

"True."

But enough. Decide for yourselves (K3G fans, keep an eye out for the cameos):



I love this song from the moment that Aman blows the Gujaratis a kiss and gets the it going in that Punjabi accent (the actor is Pathan). For me the song REALLY becomes Punjabi (really listen to the background music here) when they start the section of lyrics that all end 'rubha rubha' (meaning, 'Lord, Lord').

The mother and daughter part, which made me tear up (though that could have been his Spanish cigarettes, honestly), translates as:

"Moon (a term of endearment), My moon,
How can I make you understand how dear you are to me,
All the happy things however many there are,
I will go out and find them all
And attach them to your doli (wedding carriage)."

*Sigh* Perfect. As the Punjabis tell the Gujaratis in the video, "That's the way..."

Fun, cheeky and passionate...enjoy. And you'll all finally realise why it took me so long to realise George Michael was gay. In my world, straight men could dance.

But my favourite moment of the movie? The end, when Aman is in his hospital bed, and he says to Rohit:

"In this lifetime, she's yours. But in every lifetime after this, she's mine. From birth. Promise."

And the camera pans back to show Naina looking in the window, tears running down her cheeks.

*SOB* If there's any cosmic justice, that's the way it will be, from here to eternity.

Don't pass go, don't collect £200. If you like Bollywood, you HAVE to see this.

Don't know if you do? Start with Khabhi Khushi, and if you love that, see all the films with SRK and Kajol.

Then decide whether or not tomorrow will come.

4 comments:

CJ said...

OMG!!! Totally have this song on my YouTube Bollywood playlist...but had no idea what the plot of the film was. Now must see!

Don't feel bad about George Michael. It took him ages to work out he was gay too. And speaking of gay, don't you love the tiny touch at 2:26-33! :D

Babe, you should review Bollywood films for us white folk more often, because you're picking up on stuff I never would have imagined, let alone spotted. ;) Thanks so much for this. I'm off to Amazon now for an SRK fix...

Irim said...

HAHAHAHA, that touch at 2:26-2:33 is a subplot - Rohit's housekeeper found Aman and Rohit in Rohit's bed after a drunken night out. It was all innocent, but as is the way in Bollywood films, circumstances keep the misunderstanding alive, and add some comic relief.

But yes, I did appreciate that moment, though I wondered how it made it past the censors. White boy thinks it was probably a diaspora release, which makes sense.

Thanks, hon - I'll try to bear it in mind; I just don't get a chance to watch them that often, and a lot of my thoughts have been honed by growing up with the films of the 40s and 50s, my parents' faves.

My next few are going to be the SRKajol ones, I think. Talk about a pair who should be together life after life!! Amazing. xx

sahir said...

on the punjabi comment, both are correct, though the more common version would be 'panj saal se'--esp. in Pakistani Punjab where Punjabi has been simplified quite a bit.

Kal Ho Na Ho is a great film--watched it in Notre Dame...in the days when i was innocent ;)

Irim said...

THANK YOU, Sahir. I feel vindicated.

Ok, that makes sense. After all, the writers would be from the Indian Punjab, so kilia would be more common. And white boy spent most of his time in the NWFP, with a little time in Islamabad and Lahore, so he would have heard 'se'.

I was fascinated by how insistent he was, even after I said, "I've heard family members say that." Of course, my family is from Jalandhar, the Indian Punjab, so they would use both.

Remember that phrase I used on you after I'd been drinking, 'Dhus, na?' He had NO clue that 'dhus' meant 'tell', so his Punjabi is minimal at best. Out of curiosity, what's the Hindi/Urdu take on 'se' and 'kilia'? xx