Monday, August 22, 2011

Josh (2000): Family and gangs and love stories, oh my!

So, as you may have noticed from some of my previous posts, I have a slight love for SRK. Oh, yeah, I think you know that by that I mean a slight(ly ridiculous obsession) love. Basically, Papaya and I are sort of on the cusp of announcing that we’ve embarked on a quest to watch all of SRK’s films. We haven’t “officially” embarked on such an adventure yet, though I’ve been working my way through a rather sizable chunk of his films. Consider this a sort of precursor of much to come. ;)

Synopsis: In 1980s Vasco, Goa, the legacy of Portuguese colonialism lingers in a feud between two rival gangs: the Christian Eagles and the Hindu Bicchus. The town is sharply divided along these lines, with head of the Eagle gang Max (Shahrukh Khan) controlling one half and Bichu head Prakash (Sharad Kapoor) controlling the other, and the matter is complicated by the fact that much of the town’s land is “owned” by the long-dead Portuguese colonial Alberto Vasco. But when Prakash’s idealistic brother Rahul (Chandrachur Singh) comes home from Mumbai, the status quo is set to be upset, especially when Rahul falls in love with Max’s closely-guarded twin sister, Shirley (Aishwarya Rai).

First things first, I really enjoyed this film. That’s usually kind of a given with SRK (unless you COMPLETELY screw it up like “Oh Darling Yeh Hai India,” which I cannot stop ranting about), but overall I think I just really liked this one. The story is good and not exactly traditional and, well, it’s Aishwarya Rai and SRK. Plus it’s legit 1980s instead of the weird retro thing that a lot of Bollywood films have going on like I was talking about in my Yeh Hai India post.

But, true to nature, there were lots of small things in the film that were bizarre for me.

One, I’m so not buying Aishwarya Rai and SRK as twins. I mean, come on. Just look at them. Those are some of the most fraternal twins I have ever seen. Plus when it’s revealed in the end that Max and Shirley are actually Alberto Vasco’s illegitimate children, I was like, “Now, come on. Aish could easily be half white. Shahrukh, not so much.” That being said, they were a fantastic brother-sister duo, and I think I liked how they played off of one another in this better than even Devdas. SRK as Max reminded me of my protective big brother, and charming SRK played a street thug very well even when his material was questionable. (Yeeeah, I realized that this movie is kind of a precursor to Don. SRK plays a thug who’s a local badfanny but still a good kid at heart, a stepping stone on the way to a cold-hearted mob boss who’s an international badfanny.)

And Aish was also a great do-gooder-but-rough-around-the-edges-and-proud sister too. Classy Aish, Miss World and the most beautiful woman in the world. I loved seeing her in this role with her frizzy 80s hair and her snarky distaste for men that chased after her. And even when she fell in love with Rahul (quite “accidentally”), it was OK with the character.

While men stand around and talk about sweets, Aish plays with snakes.

What was not OK was the fact that after she fell in love, the girl who wore a skirt to church just to tear it off for shorts to ride a motorcycle afterward just randomly starts wearing dresses in every scene. That was bothersome. Some girls don’t like dresses! And that’s OK. And love doesn’t have to make a girl girly! (Despite what my favorite film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai may lead you to believe.)

More amazingly puzzling wardrobe choices: What’s up with badfanny Max rocking a fannypack to carry his gun in?

And speaking of bothersome wardrobe, there were a million random American things in this film! Like why do biker gang members in Goa wear American flag and Texas bandanas? And Buffalo Bills sweatshirts? And why does Rahul have a USA track suit? And where did a baseball (not a cricket) bat come from? All of these are mysteries without answers.

(Bandanas are one of many odd wardrobe choices here.)

Oh, and while we’re talking about mysteries without answers, how about answering for me why badfanny Max is so crazy head over heels in love with the most prim and proper church girl in town, Roseanne? We know supposedly that good girls fall for bad boys, but bad boys chasing after good girls? 

Maybe it's because she totally bitch-slapped him.

But he luvs his Roseanne. :)

It also is kind of annoying that Roseanne sort of disappears for the most part after Max manages to woo her. In all of the end drama ensues where Max is on trial for killing Prakash, Roseanne is barely there.

As occasionally odd but sweet as Max-Roseanne jodi is, it wins because it gives us SRK talk-singing. ;)

Another thing that I find intriguing — perhaps not bothersome but certainly intriguing — is how little religion tension there is for a story that bases itself on a religious divide between a Christian gang and a Hindu one. Accusations of, “You Christians!” fly occasionally in one direction; similar accusations don’t go back at Hindus, which is probably a strategic move to not alienate a mostly Hindu audience.

That being said... Check out this blooper of a cross on a wall in the Hindu half of town.
(almost dead-center in the pic, if you can't pick it out)

And now just a couple of random notes.

Dance at which they do awesome tango-swing dancing to a Spanish song (Lola, Lola por Ricky Martin)? Awesome. (Puedo hablar español, y como ustedes ya saben, me encantan todas cosas hispañas.) Things getting lost in translation like “kutta,” which the subtitles alternately translated as bastard and dog? Added humor/levity (somewhat more so once you realize that by dictionary definition, Max is a bastard). Things based in Goa? Beautiful.

You know me. I adore Spanish + Hindi. :)

Oh, and also great: some more paagal subtitles!

(Anyone can wear a mask and win a bet.)
(Go away. Double irony because they are in Goa!)
(We must reach home before the clock strikes 12.)
.... sir, you're not the hood of a vehicle. Which SRK calls a "bonnet" in Chalte Chalte.
(But only in self-defense. Doubly ironic because he was saying Max wasn't lyin'.)


  1. Lovely blog! I love SRK and KKHH is probably in my top favs of all time. iv been afraid to watch Josh it looks mcCheezy, but i think i will try now that you have given me the courage,

  2. Ah, I remember what I liked about this film now: the music. I knew all the songs long before I saw the film, not because I snapped up the cd straight after the music release but because they are by Anu Malik. As you will know, if you are an SRK fan, he wrote the wonderful music for Main Hoon Na which was my entry into Hindi films. Anu Malik has been criticise for 'stealing' styles and melodies from round the world, never more so than for Josh. But I think it all works really well, because it all still sounds Indian somehow. Ricku Mahtir was born in Mumbai, hai na?

    Very entertaning post once again, but not so much it made me want to watch Josh again. I'll follow you in your quest to watch all of SRK's films though, if I can.

  3. I've tried to watch all SRK films for many years now... It's a little hard because he's made a lot of crappy movies and had many cameos.
    Josh, I loved, too. It even made me watch West Side Story, the original film, which was great.

  4. Sorry it took me so long to reply, guys! Blogger was being super glitchy for me as it went through updates.

    K2H2 is my favorite Bollywood film by far and pretty much has been since the beginning. :) And I promise, Josh is not that cheesy. I was expecting it to be, but it's not. Purely technically, it's not good quality (it looks like it was filmed... in the 80s), but it's definitely not the cheesiest thing I've ever seen.

    I actually still haven't seen Main Hoon Na, but it's on my list! And the music of Josh was really good. I love Udit Narayan's voice period, especially in Josh on Hai Mera Dil, Hum To Dil Se Haare. :)

    I know it's daunting. I've written down the list of about 74 films; about 10 are just cameos or just him narrating. That takes it down to 64. I've seen about 15 or so already and I have at least 10 more that I either own or have immediate access to... So I figure I can do it. Plus I've already seen Oh Darling! Yeh Hai India, and I don't think it can get worse from there. lol. But yes, I still need to see West Side Story too.

  5. The funny thing about this movie is that Aishwarya and SRK are twins (go figure that out). Anyways like your blog and keep posting-Hullahaha

  6. You haven't seen MHN?!!! What are you waiting for? It's my favourite film ever! I've seen it 14 times now, and SRK is absolutely to-die-for! The first half dozen times used to really lift my spirits and make me feel dizzily happy. The only time I decided I'd drained all the goodness from it already was the 13th time, funny hai na? I could definitely watch this one without the subtitles because I know so many lines by heart. Go on, make a date with MHN.

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