India’s Got a Way With Words
And I am so in love with it.
I dove into Eastern philosophy at a young age, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I got a taste of the culture of India. And then…I found Bollywood. We were fast friends and have maintained a steady and true love affair ever since. The directors of Indian Cinema do love on a grand scale, holding nothing back and creating visual fairy tales filled with color the likes of which I just have not seen anywhere else except for maybe in my dreams.
Every first love is suddenly a musical. It’s the kind of bold unabashed love where the hero of the story isn’t afraid to sing about his romance from the rooftops (sometimes, quite literally). But the songs…the songs just touch me deep in my soul. They are often produced with passion that can be felt radiating off the screen, which is amazing considering the actors on the screen are never the ones singing. But the recording artists have managed to capture the emotions of a given scene and can transport the listeners on a carpet ride into a fantastical world where love most often wins and there is even a graceful romance in tragedy.
Not only do the songs sound beautiful to the ear, with drums and bells and layers upon layers of intricate instrumentation, but the lyrics are sheer poetry put to music. My latest obsession has been with a song from the movie Ram-Leela.
It’s an Indian take on the classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. With my love for Shakespeare, I was already halfway obsessed with the movie before I even saw it. The director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for his epic, sweeping, grand tales of love. His sets are flawless and bigger than life, everything is done with style and amazingly authentic. He produced another blockbuster hit which charmed not only India but America over a decade ago. A beautiful love story by the name of Devdas.
In Ram-Leela, Ram (our hero) and Leela (our heroine) are from feuding village families in Gujarat. As the story goes with Romeo and Juliet, they fall in love, the star- crossed lovers, but they find that perhaps, their love is not enough to end the established enmity of their family. In Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo first encounters Juliet it is at a Capulet ball. In this version, what better way for our lovers to meet than during Holi, a festival of brilliant colors celebrated widely throughout India. Holi players throw colored powders on each other, in game where it seems as though the one wearing the most colors in the end wins.
Of course, Ram and Leela meet. They are enamored with one another. They flirt with one another. They give one another that knowing glance. And they do it in the midst of a song and dance. It’s hard to ignore the passion on the screen with lyrics that translate into English as:
I’ve tasted blood
The sleeping desire in my veins has now awakened
I’ve tasted blood.
By touching of lips
from the corner of dreams
This bloodlust has brought us together forever…
I’ve tasted blood.
These are the kinds of lyrics that inspire me when I need writing motivation. That crazy amount of desire invoked by just a handful of lyrics. It’s genius! And then the scene is surcharged with a million feelings, colors are streaming through the air, emotions are running high and the first stirrings of fresh, youthful, love are spread on the screen like a buffet of pure energy.
To call it surreal and dreamlike is almost an understatement. Anyhow, the rest of the movie was great too, a real treat as an Indian take on this Shakespearean classic. I don’t think I could have hoped for more. But I wanted to share the video that’s been giving me some great writing inspiration as of late. (Check the link at the end)
As always, wishing you romance and whimsy