Dil to Pagal Hai, 1997

Dil to Pagal Hai (source: musicforyou)

Dil to Pagal Hai (source: bluebeat)

Directed and co-screenplay by Yash Chopra

This movie doesn’t even feel like a Bollywood movie to me, except in its use of the ideas of fate and the gods determining love. Otherwise, the plot is cooked from the same fluffy, saccharine ingredients that most Hollywood rom-coms dig into for their half-baked plots. Rahul directs, choreographs, and co-stars in stage musicals. Rahul’s costar is his friend who is in love with him. He is dismissive of the idea of love but is haunted by the idea of a mystery woman, Maya, whom he thinks he will find in person. He does, but it takes awhile, so we see her life apart from his for about half the movie. They finally meet, and through other circumstances she rehearses to costar in his next show. The usual types of rom-com situations ensue. The plot is highly uninteresting to me, because I have seen it so many times before. The only interesting difference is that Indians have the pleasure of including ideas about religion and fate into their character’s musings. This movie had three big stars: Madhuri Dixit, Sharukh Khan, and Karisma Kapoor. The real stars are the choreographer and composer.

Song Highlights: The opening number, “Le Gayi,” is the closing piece of Rahul’s latest show. Karisma is an effervescent dancer. Her movements are sharp and she is completely committed to each one. The company is sharp and perfectly synchronized, as all great Bollywood dancing should be. The verses use different moves, the chorus uses about five different eight-count patterns, and the instrumental interludes employ entirely different sequences. My favorite is when the female dancers are on a white set on white stairs wearing white body leotards with little rips all over the place. Karisma doesn’t look as beautiful anywhere in the film as she does here, partly because a low ponytail suits her best. Another highlight is the “Dance of Envy,” where you see a delightful match between the sharp Karisma and the womanly, fluid dancing style of Madhuri. Both are wonderful, and both together are brilliant. Yet another is “Koi ladka hai,” a dance performed in the rain first by a group of children and then by the dance company in the rain. The group of children are amazing, especially the boy in front in a black shirt and red shorts. He looks like how I feel when I dance—so joyful he’s almost transparent. These two songs, plus “Dil to pagal hai” and the song used as the theme of Rahul’s new show, are composed in a newer, hip-hop infused, electronic-included style that is very easy on the Western ear.

Tidbits: In one scene, you see Madhuri Dixit exercising with a group of other women who apparently learn choreographed dance as exercise. The song playing is a song from a pop album put out by the film’s choreographer! This clip must have been when what was first shown to the public, because in The Encyclopedia of Indian Film, Dil to Pagal Hai is listed as a film about teen aerobics, even though there are no teens and I would not call what the women are doing “aerobics.”

Rating: , because the rom-com plot is very typical, and the dancing and music are phenomenal and very accessible. Even better: no fights!

Library Collection: Not historically significant, but a good choice for a popular collection.

© 2009 Jill Wohlgemuth

About jillbrary

Spirit of the woods
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