Old Bottles New Wine

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I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada and other languages.

I saw Dulha Mil Gaya by accident. My intention was to screen Paa, but that film didn’t have a matinee. What attracted me about Dulha Mil Gaya was the monster poster which had Sushmita Sen, Shah Rukh Khan and Fardeen Khan. I decided to buy a ticket and see what Sushmita was up to. Much to my delight, she did not die like Aarti, her character in Bewaafa.

Sushmita Sen
Sushmita gave a shimmering performance as Shimmer, the uber model, but projects such as Dulha Mil Gaya are good examples of why I left Hollywood. I walked away because of the story. The film is based on that old story about an ordinary girl who is not appreciated by her husband. Someone brings in the make-up kit and hair supplements. Voila! She is a bombshell and the husband doesn’t recognize her.

Dulha Mil Gaya reminded me of Pygmalion, the play written by George Bernard Shaw about Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney (working class caste in London) girl and Professor Higgins. The good professor had a wager with his friend that he could change Eliza’s Cockney accent and turn her into a lady with a proper English accent. Pygmalion was later turned into numerous films including My Fair Lady.

Dulha, directed by Mudassar Aziz is set in Trinidad and Tobago. Tej Dhanraj, the playboy also known as ‘Donsai’, (Fardeen Khan) is rich and single and intends to keep it that way for the rest of his life. His father dies leaving him all his money on condition that he marries Samapreet Kapoor played by Ishita Sharma. Samapreet’s father was a good friend of Donsai’s father.

Donsai’s lawyer finds a loophole in the will. It doesn’t say Donsai and Samapreet should live together. He convinces him to go to Punjab, marry Samapreet, leave her there and come back to Trinidad and Tobago to have a good time. They go to India. Donsai marries Samapreet but lives her behind.

She gets worried when her husband doesn’t send for her. She takes the next plane to Trinidad and meets Shimmer in the first class section. Samapreet goes to the Dhanraj mansion and security guards laugh at the news at she is Donsai’s wife then kick her out. She falls in front of Shimmer’s limo and she recognises her as the girl in the plane. Shimmer calls in the beauty experts and Samapreet is completely transformed. You know how the story ends.

This story will not go away. Another producer somewhere in the world will finance it. There are two reasons why I stayed in the theatre. The first one was Sushmita because she was a vision in black. The make-up department behaved for a change and complemented her black skin.

Trinidad and Tobago
The second reason was Trinidad and Tobago, the film’s location. I had never seen an Indian movie shot in Trinidad before. I know a little bit about Trinidad and Tobago because I had friends in Toronto, Canada who were born there and I know about the strong presence of people of Indian descent who live there.

I was fortunate enough to participate in CARIBANA, the biggest carnival in North America. I was not part of a band and therefore did not play mas in the streets of Toronto, but I was shooting a documentary of this summer splendour creativity and sacrifice. Sacrifice because apparently, many people use their own money to design and sew those spectacular costumes. It is a year-long process because band leaders start preparing for the next CARIBANA, as soon as the present one ends.

In fact, Shah Rukh Khan who plays Shimmer’s love interest Pawan Raj Ghandhi (PRG) has a little narration at the beginning of the film that tells us about people of Indian origin in Trinidad. PRG then says the love of his life Shimmer lives there.

PRG lives in the United States. He is rich, uber rich, and loves Shimmer to distraction but the lady is very independent and doesn’t have time for him. I had no business to feel sorry for poor PRG because such a story has been told before. But, I did.

Ah! Producers are laughing at me. See! An old story well-told will appeal to even cynics like Nonqaba, who blogs for Cinema My Take. Ha! Ha! Blame Sushmita Sen for getting me into this mess. She was simply divine in Dulha Mil Gaya. Jokes aside though, I’m still searching for the one million original stories producers are capable of producing. Just think outside the box!

Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness The Novel.
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