I watched Disco Dancer four days ago and I still don't know what to say. What could I possibly add to the conversation about a movie like this? Teleport City and Gorilla's Lament have gleefully pointed out its joys and foibles, how it is both sugar-frosted seductively ridiculous and far too easy to make fun of. So go read their reviews and imagine me saying "Totally! What they said!"
Starburst-from-a-streetlamp highlights include:
- I actually liked some of the music - or rather, I would happily select it out of a pre-2000-Hindi-film-music-only jukebox.
- the dancing was delightful - I can't say it was good, exactly, but it certainly was fun. I hadn't realized disco involved so much tippy-toe prancing.
- somehow I really enjoy Sam, even though he's a perfectly awful cartoonish villain, stumbling around with bottle and syringe and falling off his debauched bedroom's raised platform floor. I mean, I don't think the poor guy was ever very secure in his career, despite his ego-crazed bluffing - I'm sure deep down he knew he was bad, which is why he let the lady in purple do all the work.
The very best Sam moment is when in the "Video Killed the Radio Star" song he bursts into camera from stage right and just yells. That was the single funniest moment in the movie and a new personal favorite across the board. Does anyone know what he's actually saying? To me it sounded like "YAHHH!" Maybe he thinks the camera operator had the hiccups? Whatever the reason, it is genius and I will cherish it always.
- oh, lovely Rita, disco maid. You don't have much of a role, but at least you got some flared gold boots
and your hair is so long that when you whip it around in your come-hither dance it fills up the screen
Let's talk clothing for a minute. I can honestly say I've seen worse, even on the Kapoor sisters alone. But Disco Dancer's costumes are a very particular kind of bad, a very enjoyable kind of bad - a kind that has a patina of age that ups its feel of what-the-hell-is-this? and seems so horrifying that it could never have been the teensiest bit real, could it? The kind that is pure pixie-stix trip. Here, for example, Jimmy is wearing a relatively acceptable outfit, given that he is a wildly popular disco star, but it is pushed over the edge by the shiny fabric...tiara, I guess I'll call it, little leaf-like bits sticking out of his forehead. To the victor goes the pleather?
There can be no finer example of completely insane costumes than those in the Krishna song. Completely unfathomable. I'd describe them, but you all know what I mean. Baby pink, baby blue, leotards, capri leggings, capes, gladiator skirts, and...black socks.
Words do not suffice.
Confession time. I wasn't properly engaged in the movie. I can't explain it. I should have been. The right ingredients were there. [Spoilers ahead!] But even the giddy song and dance and the unbelievable clothing weren't enough to sustain me through the dead mother, dead mentor, and half-arsed international disco competition (a bas le Paris!) I'm just not moved by Disco Dancer. I feel bad saying so - I feel like I've let people down by not being able to embrace this. I do so hope I get to keep my Bollywood membership card, even if I have to surrender my little cape and stop wrapping my braided pigtails in gold ribbon.