Monday, October 18, 2010

Disco Dancer: A Camp Classic!


I am a disco dancer; you are a disco dancer; we are all disco dancers!

(And if you missed it, check out the interview I did with
Anuvab Pal who is literally writing the book on Disco Dancer.)

“Who is she?”

I am FILMI GIRL and I am apt to over-think just about everything.

I almost don’t know where to start with
Disco Dancer. I brought it with me to see my friend in Boston because I had a vague idea that he would like it since he likes things that are campy. However, when I described the film to him like that, he asked me, “What makes it campy?” And I had no answer.

Let’s begin with the story for the handful of you who haven’t seen the film.
Disco Dancer is the story of Anil (Mithun Chakraborty), a humble street singer who goes on to become JIMMY, professional disco dancer and superstar. Disco Dancer chronicles his rise to fame with an emphasis on big production numbers and Mithun’s thrusting pelvis. Along the way, Anil falls in love, meets a whole stable of shady characters, and suffers the loss of his saintly mother. In other words, Disco Dancer is all Bollywood style with remarkably little substance.

What is it that makes
Disco Dancer a camp classic? What puts it up there with The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini on my list of films so ridiculous that they are genius?

My answer, at least in the case of
Disco Dancer, is that the film was made with a firm commitment to being unironically huge. The guiding philosophy of the film is to giving the audience what they want times a thousand. So, if everybody loved the stage number in Karz, Disco Dancer will give you 5 of them. Why have a regular dishoom-dishoom sequence when you can have the men put on an elaborate torture-dance showdown? If Anil is going to play at a wedding, why not make it between Tun Tun and a little person? Who says you have to chose between “Bolly” Bob Christo and Yusef Khan for your bad guy – HIRE BOTH!

Don’t just have Anil’s mom die in a car accident or something – electrocution by GUITAR!

(Does it surprise anyone that Karan Razdan aka Superstar Sam collaborated on the script of
Love Story 2050?)

Disco Dancer maybe cheezy and nonsensical but it offers something that can’t easily be manufactured – pure, unadulterated entertainment. Nobody is trying to see you anything (except Jimmy Ice Cream) and the only lesson you learn is that Jimmy is really cool (and that “Paris” has some really terrible disco dancers).

Don’t force it to make sense – just sit back and enjoy Mithun’s dancing and Bappi’s fabulous score. Cheer with everybody else when Rajesh Khanna makes his grand appearance and boo whenever “Bolly” Bob Christo struts onscreen in his skintight (and evil) jumpsuit.

All together now: “I am a disco dancer!”

Okay, enough
blah, blah, blah…! Picture time!

First of all, admire the great names responsible for the costuming. Personally, I’m hoping “New Stylo” will be available when I make my big Bollywood debut.

Rajesh Khanna in all his glory…

I had to explain to my friend about how a lot of these older
masala films start with the protagonist as a small child. This small child has no idea about what is coming for him.

Sadly, the lack of precocious youngsters playing young Ajay Devgns and Akshay Kumars means that they have all
moved to television.

Mithun! He looks so young, fresh, and happy!

Look, if you have to have a wedding scene, why
wouldn’t you cast Tun Tun? I mean, come on!

Actually, one of the odd things about
Disco Dancer is that there is no comedy subplot.

This is about as close as you get – Tun Tun marrying a little person.

Anil’s mommy still feeds him by hand – no matter HOW famous he’ll get… it just takes the mommy complex of Bollywood heroes to a whole other level.

Admire Sam’s zazzy outfit! “New Stylo,” anyone?

At this point in the film, my friend turned to me and asked if it was a thing in India for people to go out and watch dancing.

Who is the lady dancer here? I don’t know if I’ve seen her before?

Om Puri is impossibly young…

That is a hideous swimsuit. HIDEOUS. Bollywood fugly, are you reading this?

Also, this is a good time to bring up the fact that the subtitles on this film are terrible: “I will create a new superstar on the sky of the disco.”

When will some of these classic films get cleaned up and given PROPER DVD releases with decent subtitles, clean audio, and sharp images?

Do you even know how much I love that Mithun literally
dances into town and gets discovered? How many young men have tried this since then?

Sam is so arrogant, he’ll cut off your phone call
with his foot.

“Boo! We don’t want him!”

*pelvic thrust pelvic thrust*

Okay. Now, we want him.


What about some of this?!

You want to get it done? Try hiring Yusef Khan!

The infamous “snap-fight” scene!

The costume design for this is hilarious – I love that the men and women are wearing the exact same outfits here.

Is it just me or is there some not-so-subtle Christ/Jimmy imagery going on in this film?



“Paris’s” entry!

Jimmy! Jimmy! Aaja! Aaja!


Sammmmm! You have such a wonderful shirt.





Long Haired Spider said...

I can't even explain how much I love this movie - we showed it to my 14 yr old nephew this weekend, and he declared Mithun "cool" I feel validated :)

And forget Sam's clothes, what about the ponchos? That's how you can tell true evil when you see it!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

The girl who dances w/ Sam is kalpana Iyer- she did a lot of supporting roles since, with emphasis on vamp roles. Great review, as always!

Filmi Girl said...

@spider Hee hee! Mithun is sooooo cool! I mean, you would have to be to keep those white bell bottoms so spotlessly clean!

@shweta Thanks! I'll go back and edit her name in. :)

batulm said...

One of my absolute favourites. I don't think I've liked Mithun so much in anything else.

Anarchivist said...

I love this movie with every twisted fiber of my being. And you've done some masterful work here in the genre of screenshotting.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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