Oh Bollywood, you have let me down.
My love of Bollywood movies began when I watched Bride and Prejudice. Seeing Sayid burst into song was truly a life-changing moment for me.
In fact, Bollywood movies make me so happy that one time when we went out for Indian food with some friends, I started to think that I was a real Bollywood actress, and when the waiter asked if I wanted my food mild, medium, or hot, I confidently answered, “Hot!” And then the waiter walked away snickering. He was still snickering when he brought my food to me. He broke into all-out laughter when I took a huge bite and started to cry. I have never tasted anything like that in my life. Holy hot lava, Batman! My tastebuds have never been the same. For those of you who have never eaten Indian food, the correct answer would have been, “Mild.”
Back on track.
I’ve been working on a Bollywood movie marathon during the Christmas break. Don’t judge me – I don’t have time to watch movies while the munchkins are in school, so I had to catch up sometime. Last night I was feeling a bit traumatised after a near-death experience on the freeway while driving the kidlets to the swimming pool. Because of the terror that was still pulsing through my veins, I decided to watch something totally safe, totally saccharine, totally mushy. I did not need any more excitement.
I chose Fanaa. The movie poster was gorgeous, and the plot synopsis was just what I was looking for: “A sheltered blind girl and a poetic womanizer find love in this drama from India. When Zooni meets Rehan, the sparks fly. Touched by the sightless but determined beauty, Rehan takes her on a sensory tour of Delhi. While Zooni’s friends warn her away from the ladies man, Rehan is falling in love for the first time.” Aah, perfect!
I made Emma pull it up for me on Netflix (yep, still that helpless), and right before it started playing, Todd asked, “Did you check the rating?” Silly, silly, Todd. Nothing bad ever happens in Bollywood movies.
The offspring lined up next to me on the couch (they, too, are fascinated by Bollywood), the movie began, and right away there was trouble. In Bollywood, the main characters are always stunningly beautiful, way beyond the level that any mere mortal should be able to attain. This heroine was no different, expect for one small thing. She had a unibrow. Seriously. It was horrible.
“Mom, why doesn’t she pluck it?” an anguished Emma asked.
“She’s blind, maybe she doesn’t know it’s there,” an equally anguished Jennifer replied.
“Why don’t her friends help her? Why does she have such bad friends?!?!” Jennifer and Emma both cried out at the same time.
Eventually, we got over it. Mostly.
The first half of the movie went as expected. Boy meets blind girl. Boy is smitten. Boy recites poetry. Boy bursts into song. Girl bursts into song. Boy and girl dance around Delhi. Boy and girl end up in bed together….
Wait, what?!?! That is NOT supposed to happen in a Bollywood movie.
Girl has to return to her parents’ home. Boy finds her on the train. Boy carries her off the train and declares his never ending love. Boy and girl plan to get married. Girl finds out that she can have surgery to repair her eyes. Boy is overjoyed. Boy says goodbye to her in the operating room. Girl is in the most beautiful hospital clothes ever made. Boy hugs her about ten times. Boy goes to train station to pick up girl’s parents.
Girl wakes up from surgery. She still has make-up on. Her hair still looks perfect. Most importantly, she can see!
A smart person would just stop watching here. But I am not smart. I kept watching.
Let’s flesh the rest of the movie out a bit better.
Unibrow’s name is Zooni. Boy’s name is Rehan. Rehan has just been blown to bits in a terrorist attack. Zooni, who has been able to see for all of ten seconds, is asked to identify his remains, which are apparently unidentifiable. Zooni identifies them anyway. Zooni cries.
Suddenly, we’re in the middle of an anti-terrorist unit. The leader is talking about the terrorist leader who carried out the attack. He is cold, calculating, never makes a mistake, and no one has ever been able to identify him.
My spidey senses are tingling.
And then, we see a montage of Rehan. Rehan is the terrorist! The whole time he was leading poor, blind, unibrowed Zooni around the city, he was actually planning a terrorist attack! Bad, bad Rehan!!!
And Rehan is still alive. He cackles evilly while he shreds Zooni’s picture and throws it to the ground below. His silly, silly heart made a mistake. He won’t let that happen again.
The kidlets and I are stunned. What just happened? This is not how Bollywood works!
We decide to press on.
When the movie resumes, we find out that seven years have passed. Rehan has infiltrated an army unit. He is pretending to be Captain Rajeed. We then watch as the real Captain Rajeed is executed by the bad guys. No, Bollywood, NO!
The bad guys have a nuclear bomb. Rehan gets his hands on the trigger by MURDERING several of his army friends while they are flying in a plane to deliver it safely to the anti-terrorist unit. Then he jumps off the plane and blows it up. There is no happy Bollywood music here.
Rehan then snowboards down the mountain while being pursued by more good guys. He kills them all. He is very efficient.
We are all sitting slack-jawed on the couch.
Joshua says, “I don’t think this is the same movie we were watching.”
I don’t know what to say.
Rehan keeps killing people. Oh, the blood. There is just so much blood.
Eventually, there is no one left alive on the entire mountain, except for Rehan the brutal terrorist monster. And he is pretty beat up.
He drags his bloody body through the blizzard until he finds a cozy mountain home. He staggers onto the porch, pounds on the door with the little bit of strength he has left, and….Zooni answers the door! Rehan passes out.
Zooni, Papa (Mama is dead), and Rehan Jr. take in the heroic soldier (remember, he is dressed as one of the good guys) and nurse him back to health.
Rehan is miserable. He knows that he is a bad, bad person, but Zooni is the love of his life. And he has a son, a cute son who refuses to take baths.
Rehan looks like he has a major case of indigestion.
Zooni sings a lot.
Rehan joins her in song. Zooni figures out who he is. She is angry.
Rehan tries to leave. Rehan Jr. catches him. Jr. tells him that he will take baths like a big boy if only he will stay. Rehan leaves anyway. He is heartless, that one.
Zooni finds out that Rehan has left. She chases him through the snow and beats him up until he promises to marry her. I am not making this up.
Papa marries them, and then immediately figures out that Rehan is a terrorist. He takes Rehan to Uncle’s house, supposedly to let Rehan use Uncle’s radio to call his unit. Papa really wants to kill Rehan. But Rehan is too smart for this, and throws Papa off the giant cliff that right in front of Uncle’s house.
“Why is there a cliff there?” Joshua shouts.
“Why does she still have a unibrow?” Emma wails.
“What on earth are you watching?” Todd asks.
Jennifer has no answers. Where, oh, where did all the happy songs go?
Rehan calls his evil grandfather to let him know that he has the trigger. Grandfather will be there in the morning to pick it up. Then he returns home to his new family, telling Zooni that Papa will be spending the night with Uncle.
But Zooni has already seen Papa’s corpse floating down the river, so she takes Jr. and the trigger and drives back down the mountain to Uncle’s house while Rehan is in the shower trying to wash all of the blood off his hands.
Zooni arrives at Uncle’s house, where she finds a giant smear of blood in the hallway. So much for Uncle being able to help her. She gets on the radio and miraculously makes contact with the anti-terrorist unit. She lets them know that she is alone on the mountain with the greatest terrorist mastermind who has ever lived. They promise to come help her in the morning.
Morning arrives. So does Rehan. He tells Zooni that all he has to do is deliver the trigger to his Grandfather, and then they can live together as one big, happy family. Zooni is doubtful, but not nearly doubtful enough considering that she knows that Rehan just killed her father and uncle. Rehan tells her that if he doesn’t give the trigger to his grandfather, the evil old one will torture Jr. in front of them both, and then torture Zooni, and then kill Zooni, and then, if Rehan is really, really lucky, he will kill Rehan, too. What a lovely family Zooni has married into!
They hear a helicopter. It is Grandfather. Rehan runs out to meet him. Zooni shoots him in the back of the knee. Rehan snarls and points a gun at her. But he can’t shoot her, because he is seeing a happy montage of all of the fun times they had together. He turns back around and starts limping toward Grandfather’s helicopter.
Zooni still has her gun pointed at Rehan. She, too, is seeing a happy montage. She shoots him anyway. He dies.
The good guys arrive and blow up Grandfather’s helicopter, just as he is about to shoot Zooni.
I think I have just been scarred for life.
Ironically enough, the best Bollywood movie I watched this week had the creepiest description. Something about a romance between a 40 year old and a teenager. I almost didn’t watch it, but it ended up being really sweet and uplifting.
In summary, do NOT, under any circumstances, watch Fanaa.
Instead, watch Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.
And Bride and Prejudice. You can always watch Bride and Prejudice.
Just make sure that you don’t watch the Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. Because believe it or not, it is even worse than Fanaa.