"A Hindi version of Harry Potter ca. 2004" seems like sufficient description, but even after watching the amazing reports on the film from both Pretentious Movie Reviews* and Neon Harbor's Deja View**, I still didn't quite realize what I was in for. It does tick certain boxes dictated by basic Harry Potter elements and Bollywood standards: moppets in uniforms, a blonde bully, both helpful and mean adults at the school of magic, an airborne sporting event, filial loyalty, family vengeance, useless comic relief, grating child actors, big dance numbers, plenty of familiar faces,
|Though maybe I shouldn't assume combodia is videshi?|
|Advanced Regional Stereotypes must not have been taught last term.|
But the weirdest part of all—because honestly none of what I've listed above is that weird, since this is sort of B-grade Bollywood—is that the evil principal/sorceress (aka RB)'s plan to rule the world is by forcing our hero (Shanu)'s father (Rahul), also a magician, to create...plague? a grain fungus that will create food shortages? a poison distributed by radio-controlled locusts? No. An aphrodisiac.
|The lyrics say things like "Give it to me, give it to me, give it to me, give me the rhythm" and lots of "oooh aaaah."|
However, when the topic of this potion comes up again in the big brawl at the end of the film, in which various characters are almost killed and this potion restores them, it's clear that in fact it's a potion for eternal life. I went back and tried to isolate what the Hindi word being subtitled as "aphrodisiac" was, and sure enough, even I can understand that a term with "amar" and "jeevan-" in it probably has more to do with death and life than with prem and ishq.
|Apparently I was too busy looking at her hat to notice this subtitle the first time through.|
** You may not know what this is. It's my friend Ed's series on foreign remakes of American and British blockbusters, his area of special expertise. Last week we watched Sangharsh, aka Bollywood's Silence of the Lambs, and I'm pretty sure I'll never be the same again.
*** Term courtesy of Pretentious Movie Reviews. I'm kind of sad that the four Bengali professors I know are not unnecessarily so and thus I have no reason to call them this.