The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0552  Thursday, 20 March 2003

From:           Jennifer Drouin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 19 Mar 2003 11:07:48 -0500
Subject:        Re: Bollywood Shakespop

Richard Burt writes:

>I've seen the film, and, in my view, the few Shakespeare references
>don't save this rather horrible, entirely formulaic film.  Though made
>in Canada, the film uses what is basically an American sit-com plot.
>Bollywood films of the past decade or so have been deservedly trashed by
>film critics...

I agree. In fact, that is entirely the point. As the title suggests, the
entire film is a parody of the Bollywood film industry (hence all the
absurd musical scenes) as well as a critique of the Hollywood film
industry (hence all the plot cliches, especially the love story). On the
surface, it's supposed to be rather horrible and entirely fomulaic, but
at the same time it subverts these cliches from within--for instance,
the Bollywood song and dance on the patio of a Toronto condo with the CN
tower in the background exposes just how utterly ridiculous the
traditional Bollywood musical scene set in fields of green somewhere in
the English countryside really is. The balcony scene (when he jumps onto
the father's old car) exposes how Hollywood's frequent appropriations of
Romeo and Juliet in sit-coms renders the play an inane cliche. The
entire film is one big in-joke. Taken in conjunction with Mehta's other
films, which are all so deeply political, it's very difficult to accept
this film at face value. The Shakespearean running gag, however, is the
most overt political critique within the film precisely because the role
of Shakespeare in the coloniziation of India is an obvious example of
the issue the film is really dealing with, cultural imperialism, which
the Hollywood film industry exemplifies so well these days.  On the
other hand, the granny's steadfast clinging to Shakespeare can also be
read in contrast to the crass materialism (all that flashy gold,
sportscars, etc.) idealized by all the other characters in the film.
Either way, Shakespeare is at the heart of the film's social critique.

Jennifer Drouin

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