9 comments on “Malayalam Movies Have the Best Light Communist Love Songs! (And more thoughts re. Arabikatha (2007). )

  1. Richard, I saw about 20 minutes of this, but then had to return it to the library. I have re-requested it to finish. Happy to see your write up since I’m sure there aren’t too many. I will report back when done with it.

  2. Thank you, Sita-ji. I can’t believe you found Arabikatha in the library! (But then this is not the first time I’ve said something like that – you really know how to use the library.) I’ll have to check and see if it can be gotten in the libraries in Manhattan and Queens.

    If you get to watch all of this before I do, it would be good to hear more about it. I can hardly say I actually “wrote it up,” considering that I only saw clips and then a little of the film without subtitles.

    Thanks for recommending Kannathi Muthamittal too. No, I haven’t seen it; I’ll have to look for that…

  3. I know Richard! I’ve indeed been lucky to find lots of the best stuff there. BUt you now Minenapolis is pretty liberal, so it would figure, right? Just saw parallel cinema movie “Aamir ” courtesy of the library: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joaXFiQSfdY

    as well as “Shaurya”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xej5Pzn7g60

    Both well acted, and politically charged and quite good, but I need my Masala hit or at least a few decent item numbers. :)

    And I’ve taken a new bold step: I’ve even written the library asking why they don’t have Deepha Mehta’s new film, “Heaven on Earth”. Can’t even get it at netflix yet, perhaps too controversial. Look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_neF3vLaA9E

    Having recently attend that punjabi wedding, I really liked seeing the wedding scenes depicted in the trailer.

    Hey bawa-ji! :)

    Jai HInd!

  4. Sita-ji, sorry, your comment didn’t look right for a little while either; I had to fix the same glitch. WordPress has apparently added a new feature that tries to convert video links in comments to the actual video clips (beware!)…

    I know what you mean about item numbers… One thing that prevents me from leaning more toward paralell cinema is that the song and dance numbers are a big reason I gravitated toward Bollywood, Kollywood, etc. I haven’t viewed that much parallel cinema, but I get the impression that more filmmakers in this area consider item numbers and music-and-dance numbers in general as not belonging to “serious” social cinema. (Or, at least, “serious” cinema has to find a “realistic” reason for singing and dancing to take place.) That’s an attitude that ‘s prevailed the west, which also has caused many people to dismiss Bollywood, etc. (that is, dismiss it without even understanding it).

    Now, getting back to the old topic of how/why I’ve come to love the Indian films from the ’50s… One reason (though not the only one) is that they often had both the song and dance numbers (whether they were more like item numbers or more essential to the plot) and the real social-political focus. (And focus of the political nature that I like – I think a lot of people at this point should have a good idea what direction that would be in. :)

    It seems to me this “parallel cinema” phenomenon really emerged (in the ’70s?) as a result of the fact that the social content was fading away somewhat from the popular films with the song-and-dance numbers.

    I don’t like that separation so much. I like it all together, and I love the idea that films intended as real popular entertainment (with lots of music and dancing, as I may have said already :) could also have some major social[ist] content. That’s one of the things that make a lot of classic Bollywood more interesting to me than most films made in the west.

  5. Richard,

    Thanks for repairing those links. Funky wordpress quirk, will probably change again soon, who knows.

    WELL SAID! I agree with it all why not all together using the song dance to make the points that are needed. It can certainly be done and is often the best vehicle of expression. Among the parallell cinema crowd of the Indian Film Industry seems to lie some cultural shame over the traditional BOllywood films, I especially find that with NRI who I’ve met. It’s like the same reaction you feel when someone asks, “Have you seen Slum dog Millionaire?” I want to say, “Don’t you get it!?! Don’t you get how great these are, not all, sure a lot are trash, but the overall genre is exceptional!” I think Mihir Bose’s book “Bollywood: A History” helped explain some of that confusion for me.


    I’ve read parts and I think you have too. The whole section on how movies were marketed to different groups, and how the upper class and Parsi would see the American and Brittish films and not until Indira’s ban on outside films was Bollywood taken in my the upper classes. I think there’s still that snobery that reigns and a looking down one’s nose at Bollywood from many of the “upper class” Indians. Ahh, their cultural shame gets in the way of enjoyment of some fun films. Also, Bose talks aboot the higher literacy rates in the socialist south, and how as a result the movies and audiences could handle the non-traditional sad endings, often absent in Bollywood films. And sure there are those violent, sexist, Tamil and Telugu flicks, but just think, Mani Ratnam is a volcano of political art. I could go on and on. Back to work!

    In solidarity! Jai Hind!

  6. You need communist songs… What an odd little comment. I hope this isn’t some strange kind of spam. Well, anyway, here’s something from the other end of that Subcontinent:

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