Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Summer When I Finally Start Watching Bollywood

Earlier this week, I watched my first ever full-fledged Bollywood movie. For those of you who don’t know, Bollywood is the Hindi-language film industry that is based in Mumbai. Many Bollywood movies, I’m told, usually run around 3-4 hours, and are full of song-and-dance routines, as well as the portrayal of good values. I first heard about Bollywood when I came to Franciscan, for I became good friends with a few women who are fairly obsessed with that realm of movies. But over these past few years, I just never got around to it. Finally, earlier this summer, I saw Bride and Prejudice on the library shelf and figured that would be a good starting point. B & P is the tale of—you guessed it—Pride and Prejudice, set in modern-day India. The movie was made to be a blend of American and Indian cinema combined, with a bit of British cinema influencing it. I greatly enjoyed the movie, and found that I really, really liked the “Bollywood elements” to it. So, I wrote one of my friends asking for recommendations, she sent a list of movies to watch, and the library system happened to have nearly all of them.

And this is how it came to be that Tuesday morning found me wearing my Indian-elephant print wrap skirt and settling down (and jumping up to dance occasionally) for nearly 4 hours, while watching the movie Lagaan. Set in the late 1800s, this movie covers the story of an Indian village that is under the oppressive fist of the British military. Led by a young man, Bhuvan, the villagers take on the British in a non-bloody, epic combat. Within this whole plotline, the movie is full of saris, dancing, singing, a super-sweet love story, sacrifice, and unity among people. There are a couple stellar lines (though the movie has lots of great lines) that I have to mention:

“He who has truth and courage in his heart, it’s he who wins in the end.”

You know, it is so downright easy to succumb to the pressures of the world and society. Not just with behavior, but also with ideas. Society is pressuring us to buy into the idea that anything and everything needs to be tolerated, except that which Society doesn’t like. But if Society isn’t handing us the Truth—the Truth that is given by God—then we don’t have any business buying into it. Like the characters sing in Lagaan, we have to remember that when we hold truth in our hearts with courage, we will rise triumphant in the end. We may have to get through a lot of trials and hardships along the way, but if we courageously hold true to God, we will ultimately be fulfilled and live with Him in the glory of Heaven.

“Shame can’t even enter eyes that are fully opened.”

When I heard this line in the movie (well, when I read the subtitles, since the movie’s in Hindi) I immediately thought of Theology of the Body, and how in that original state of communion with God and each other in Eden, there was no shame. Genesis 2:25, anyone? "The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame." Yeah, it's cool. When our eyes are not clouded by sin or concupiscence, when they are fully opened to the light of God’s truth and love in purity, we will not be covered in shame; rather, we will be brought into deeper communion with God and others. Can you imagine how EPIC Heaven will be? To have fully opened eyes, to be seeing God and others will pure vision? I just can’t even handle this…

Another aspect of Lagaan that I enjoyed was the love story. I’ve been told that in older Bollywood movies (sadly, newer movies are conforming to “modern audiences” by throwing junk in) follow strict standards in the way of sexual content that is portrayed on-screen. In this movie, not only were there no sex scenes, but there weren’t any kissing scenes! But you know what? The love story was cute, and you could really tell that the characters loved each other. They didn’t need to wrap themselves up in the whole physical thing. I really, really appreciated seeing this on screen, and brought back memories of my dating/courtship relationship with Jacob. The first kiss on the lips that we shared was on the church steps immediately after our Nuptial Mass. And it was awesome, epic, and beautiful! It was a special gift and intimacy that we saved exclusively for each other. It was a sacrifice, but love is sacrifice, and this sacrifice deepened our love for each other. You don’t hear about “saving the first kiss for marriage” too much, and you definitely don’t see it in movies. So, it was super refreshing to watch a romance on-screen that did not focus on physical contact, but instead looked to the couple’s friendship and sacrifice with and for each other.

Another super cool aspect of Lagaan involved a crippled man. Following the caste system, the villagers labeled this man as an “Untouchable,” and were repulsed at this man’s very presence. However, Bhuvan admonishes them, explaining that this crippled man would be very valuable in their fight against the British. And you know what? That man put the British to shame. In 1 Cor 1:27, St. Paul writes, "God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong," which this part of the movie totally shows. It's so awesome!!!!

These thoughts on Lagaan don’t include all of the awesomeness of the movie, but I’ve been trying hard to not give any spoilers J I loved it, and I’ve already reserved my next Bollywood movie from the library, so the fun is only beginning!

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