Film Brun

Now I'm no film critic so forgive me if this is absolutely amateur, but I think I just watched my first desi film noir and that's really exciting.

Being Cyrus was released in November 2005 and from an informal survay of anyone who fit my target demographic (i.e. brown and came into contact with me today) not many people have seem to have seen it. It's got all the classic noir elements. A tortured and cynical protagonist who provides the voiceover, a vamp with an hour glass figure and a plunging neckline married to a has-been, a cop who knows how to choose his words from his working-class but acerbic vocabulary, a cold and greedy city, murder, intrigue, double-triple-quadruple-cross, and lots of meaningful eyebrow raises amidst dark shadows and swirling cigarette smoke.

The movie itself was lacking but I tried not to be too disappointed because it was so gleefully desified and fun to watch. The fact that the whole film was shot within the Bombay Parsi community allowed all the characters to dress in clothes that were somehow contemporary and yet evocative of the forties what with those form-fitted dresses and open-collered shirts lounging around rambling appartments. It also allowed an important subplot of bias towards "protected minorities" and class tension to be developed which reminded you that this was indeed noir but set in Bombay.

I don't want to give any more away, and I'm not going to talk about the acting other than to say that it was choppy. I do, however, recommend seeing it, if only as an interesting departure from the usual sentimentality of contemporary desi films. Even though it had some huge flaws, what I liked about Being Cyrus was the fact that although it was a story that was clearly set in Bombay, and was plausible (as plausible as noir films can ever be anywhere) as having happened in Bombay, it didn't depend on a single cheap cultural trick to assert its desiness. There were no sweeping statements on desi masculinity, there wasn't a single overzealous wedding scene or a quick wink at poverty or the fact that there are thousands of deities in India and lots of silk to be bought. Being Cyrus tried to tell a story that was a juicy in its own right and it was brave enough to commit to a cinematic genre that wasn't "Bollywood" or "brown guy/girl in American college/trying to get married - brown or white, what to do?" that's becoming so familiar.

And I really appreciated that it was an entertaining desi movie made for desis, not a gesture to any diasporic community or "foreign" audiences. I accidentally had the subtitles turned on in English and was enjoying the strange transliterations of spoken English words into written English until the bits where the characters got over-heated and started yelling in Gujarati. Then the subtitles just stopped. If you got what they were saying, you'd probably kill yourself laughing, if you didn't, you could tell that they were being rude but otherwise were left to your own devices.

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Comments

Have you seen Maqbool? It

Have you seen Maqbool? It may have been the single worst version of Macbeth I've ever seen.

Though in its defense, I rarely see the "updated" Hollywood versions like Scotland, PA and I also don't speak Hindi :)

Nope... but I add it to my

Nope... but I add it to my May desi entertainment list - all suggestions and warnings welcome.

I recently watched "Neal 'n

I recently watched "Neal 'n Nikki" which seems to be pretty much just an effort to sell a movie using scantily clad brown bodies (both male and female). However, it's interesting that this is a Yash Chopra produced film, exactly 10 years after DDLJ. To me it seems to be pretty indicative about how drastically the idea of the desi cool has changed in ten years, as well as ideas on sex, sexuality and the desh's relationship with its diaspora. All this is basically me trying to justify why I watched this movie. Don’t judge me, peoples!

Real paxil.... Real

Real paxil....

Real paxil....

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