Saturday, February 24, 2007

Chaiyya Chaiyya and The Inside Man

The other day a friend basically forced me to watch Spike Lee’s 2006 venture, The Inside Man.

That sentence needs explanation: given my current location in the throes of writing over fifty thousand words analysing cinematic practises, watching movies has slipped from its prime position as entertainment. Movies are work at the current time and I don’t need to do any more work than is absolutely necessary.

On the other hand, the aforementioned friend felt that I needed to watch Lee “bookend” his film with one of my all time Gulzar-A.R. Rahman favourite songs: Chaiyya Chaiyya. And so I did!

And have been confused ever since. Admittedly I am not alone in this state.

Question is: Why? Assuming that Spike Lee plans his movies and their effects carefully, what does Chaiyya Chaiyya contribute to the flick? Other than of course another attempt to cash in on the growing “Bollywood” craze. Oh how I hate that unavoidable tag!

I was disappointed, I have to confess. I did have visions of Denzel and Jodie doing a train-top routine a la Shahrukh-Malaika. Or given the racial politics of Hollywood, at least an Owen-Jodie two-step shuffle. But no such luck! The song just shows up during credits, with no real contribution to the movie it bookends.

Of course Western critics are equally baffled – which I suppose is a good thing! My favourite response came from that explained: “The end credits and the opening titles, incidentally, are enlivened by the peppy Bollywood hit song "Chal Chaiyya Chaiyya" from the movie "Dil Se." The song does not seem to have anything to do with this movie -- no one dances on top of a train -- but it is a hip way to reassure the audience that nothing too bad is going to happen.”

Really? That is where globalization meets Lost In Translation! Or rather when any form of “manageable models” of making meaning are nonexistent. Poor reviewer of course has no clue of the original movie, Dil Se.

Obsessed lover-boy chasing sulky suicide bomber until they can blow themselves to bits in picturesque Old Fort setting is definitely my definition of something "too bad” has happened!

Sigh….the joys of globalization!