I was commissioned to write this a few years ago for the Central European House of Photography in Bratislava (and thank you to all the photo...
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
I am a Disco Dancer! Yeah
From the sublime to 'Disco Dancer', a film that I saw last week. I am a Disco Dancer - that's the feature song of the movie, and the one that is rattling around my brain for half of my waking hours (the good half. The bad half there's another song rattling round in there).
Sometimes there is a right time for a film (or a book or a photograph or whatever). Last Friday was the right time for Disco Dancer, possibly the only time in my life that I would have been willing to sit through 2 and a half hours of Hindi Cinema Disco dancing.
In this post, I mentioned a talk Francis Hodgson gave at which he emphasised the importance of allusion in work.
Well, there's allusion and there's allusion, Hindi film style. Disco Dancer has none of the former but loads of the latter. In the soundtrack alone, I caught fleeting glimpses of songs such as Video Killed the Radio Star, You're the one that I want and One for you, One for me, the latter a song that I felt I had truly put behind me and would never hear again. Yet there it is in Disco Dancer filling my head with a song that sits like a hyperactive limb twitching child at the very forefront of my mind. How do I get rid of it.
The interesting thing about Disco Dancer is it was a huge hit in the Soviet Union, where Indian cinema was incredibly popular (Awara was possibly the most popular film released there). After its release in 1986, there was a huge debate about whether these 'popular' films were worthy of viewing, with a even bigger counter debate telling critics that '...Indian films taught one to love 'without an eye to personal gain' They suggested that those who were hostile to these films 'had perhaps never loved like that'.'
Soviet viewers also like the 'real men' in Hindi cinema, it was 'vivid' and 'bright' and packed the cinemas every time - one Hindi film fan noted that in contrast at a screening of a critically acclaimed Soviet film that was shown at the same time only one of the original 15 members of the audience stayed after the first 20 minutes.
But enough of this - buy Indian films in Soviet Cinemas: The Culture of Movie-Going After Stalin by Sudha Rajagopalan if you are interested.
In the meantime, here are a couple of Soviet animations - good old American Imperialist Mr Twister, you have to love his big fat racist ass, and what happened to poor old Vinni Puuh - he turned into the inspiration for South Park.