From The Heart

  The clip is the opening spectacular from the Bollywood flic Dil Se.  It neatly launches the story about an All-India radio reporter who becomes so infatuated with a mysterious and beautiful woman that he doesn’t realize that she’s a terrorist until it is too late.  Way too late.

  The film is dark, foreboding, and does not attempt to  convey optimism about the potential for peaceful coexistence between and among India’s many ethnic and religious groups.  The interwoven bits of romance lighten up the political part of the narrative in the same way that the fantasy of Tralfamadore does the story of the WWII firebombing of Dresden in Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5.

  Dil Se was controversial when it came out in 1998 because it had only been a few years since a female suicide bomber had taken the life of Rajiv Ghandi.  It failed at the box office in India.  Since then it has been shown at many international film festivals and has drawn praise and a following. 

  I’m sure you’ll agree that the video is incredible on many levels.  The music alone is wonderful and has become wildly popular around the world.  It was employed by Spike Lee – to provocative effect – on the soundtrack of his Inside Man. 

  The music combined with the position of its performance – atop a train moving through rugged topography – makes what could be a dream sequence for a lyrical thrill seeker as well a poetic look at love.

He whose head is in the shadow of love
will have heaven beneath his feet.
Whose head is in the shadow of love..
Walk in the shadow.
Walk in heaven, walk in the shadow. 

  Culturally, it brings several things to mind.  First, it would not seem odd or staged or maybe not even dangerous to Indians or people in much of the third world that passengers would be allowed to ride on the top of a train.  Makes one aware of the existence of a spectrum of personal responsibility with abdication on one (our) end and self reliance on the other.

  Secondly, it interesting to know that while Richard Gere was threatened with jail for kissing an Indian actress on the lips on stage at an AIDs awareness rally, it is apparently not there found unacceptably erotic that the dancer at the beginning of this movie initially lends her chest to the surrounding landscape and then sets her hips to swaying like, well, uh, if I went into the kitchen at home and my wife was moving thus I’d know what was on the menu.  And my silverware would be ready.

    

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