The movie of the year. Hands down. Not just this year, the movie in question might very well rank among the top Indian celluloid classics ever made—maybe just a tad below Kanti Shah’s Tarantino-esque epic “Gunda” but then again just a tad.
The movie’s name is “Classic Dance of Love” which brings together the trinity of creativity, the last survivors of the Nouvelle Vague (that’s Francais for New Wave—-not “vague” as in English) cinema that was originated by Truffaut, Goddard et al—–the trinity being B.Subhash, Bappi Lahiri and the Supreme Lord and God of all things—-Mithun Chakraborty. Just like Bhamha, Vishnu and Maheshwar’s creative forces led to the creation of Durga, so it is with “Classic Dance of Love”.
It is very difficult to write a review for this movie. How can one review the Mona Lisa or Beethoven’s seventh symphony or one’s first kiss? It’s just not possible but I am going to give it a try—taking the aid of pictures and text.
The movie opens in Fellinesque fashion with Mithun-da clad in chains last worn by Sean Connery in the “Rock” standing in front of the setting sun (masterfully rendered by B. Subhash’s multimedia company—-Sixar by a painting of a yellow circle against a red background drawn on a piece of cardboard—the DVD commentary mentions that to be the backside of an old hoarding for Mithun-da’s movie “Commando”) asking the sun in a thundering voice a question which even Plato, Socrates and Schopenhauer could not answer:
“Paap kya hain, punya kya hain?” (What is sin? What is piety?)
The scene shifts to a crowded market place. Mithun-da wanders in, clad in chains—a blank insane look on his face—the same face he had when Sridevi left him standing in the temple when they had gone to get married.People mock and jeer him (Picture 1) as the madman who walks with a chain around his ankle—and then someone makes a mistake.
The scene shifts to a crowded market place. Mithun-da wanders in, clad in chains—a blank insane look on his face—the same face he had when Sridevi left him standing in the temple when they had gone to get married.People mock and jeer him (Picture 1) as the madman who walks with a chain around his ankle—and then someone makes a mistake.He says “Good Morning”.
Mithun-da looks at him, eyes fixed and in a voice that would make the blood of tigers run cold (old jungle proverb) he says:
“What is so good about the morning?” in perfect English.
A cruel man tells Mithun-da to dance and if he dances then the man will give Mithun-da a laddoo. Mithun-da says that not even Nataraj can dance with chains round his neck (but we all know that Mithun-da is a bigger God) but that Mithun-da can—because the dance in question is the “Classic Dance of Love”.
Then it begins (Picture 2). Mithun-da starts bogeying in chains, his face contorted like a man pumped up with Viagra, moving with the supple grace of Houdini. In a time warp out come the 80s backup dancers (Picture 3)—-the overweight, bursting-at-the-seams aunties, bringing back the refreshing innocence of an age gone by to the tired 2000s.
After that dance , a cop comes to him pointing out that Mithun-da is bleeding from dancing in chains. Mithun-da turns to the cop and says: “Yeh khoon nahin —mere krodh ka rang hain. Chatega ise?”
(“This is not blood but the color of my anger. Want to lick it?”)
Needless to say, the frightened policeman does not take up Mithun-da on his offer.
Then starts a flashback—-Mithun-da used to be a rich and famous man—Dr. Ramgopal Acharya who like most PhDs lived a life of celibacy (or as some call it: severe sexual frustration). He was a religious/moral preacher who thought that women are the root of all evil—-of course he made a distinction: there is the woman as mother, wife, sister —pure and life-giving, [examples Nirupa Roy, Mayawati , Mamata Banerjee and girls in Jadavpur University engineering department] and then there is the woman as the agent of the Devil, the seductress, temptress [examples: girls in Jadavpur University Arts department].
A man of science, he also explains the General theory of relativity to his disciples (the most lucid enunciation of this, the most complex of concepts) .
“There is no time, no space. Only zero.”
Dr. Acharyais approached by a dashing-look Navin Nischol, UK’s biggest industrial tycoon, who entreats Dr. Acharya to help him rescue his son who has fallen into the clutches of a temptress—-“Kaliyon ka chaman” Meghna Laddoo sorry Naidu or “Doli”.
Doli is a poor innocent girl who dances around, under the loving supervision of madam Himani Shivpuri (this is the lady who played the lady doctor in Hum Aaapke Hain Kaun and Anupam Kher’s “love interest” in DDLJ) , catering to a crowd of the most vulgar louts (Picture 4) ever captured on screen all the while trying to keep her oodles of fat from bursting out of her rather inadequate clothes (Picture 5)
She dreams of a knight in shining armour riding a white horse to come and rescue her. Well I don’t know if she gets the hero she always wanted but she certainly gets the white horse all right (Picture 6) —-the son of Navin Nischol whose acting makes Hayden Christensen look like De Niro and who sprouts amazing lines:
“You look sexy in my lungi”
Dr. Acharya drives a wedge between the two lovers haranguing the poor Doli with the kind of moralizing bombast that would make Bal Thackeray, Mullah Umar and my wife proud. Then to extract revenge, Doli infiltrates Dr. Acharya’s peace haven (ashram) and launches a campaign of targeted titillation where she swing from a tree (like Drew Barrymore in Poison Ivy), takes endless dips in the water to cleanse herself and touches Dr. Acharya’s feet at every opportunity.
The story reaches a “climax” as Dr. Acharya starts losing his senses and goes wild with lust (Picture 7).
Will Dr. Acharya satiate his physical desire with the voluptuous Doli? Will Doli lose weight? Will the hero run back for his heroine? Will Bappi Da compose an original tune? Watch “Classic Dance of Love” to find out.
Whether it is showing Mithun-da having a wet-dream or talking to himself (in different voices and using different facial expressions ) like Smeagol or making Himani Shivpuri (a lady on the wrong side of 50) dance in a low cut , tight, short dress and shake her stuff (Picture 8) or punching in “intimate scenes” from “Romeo and Juliet” between Di Caprio and Claire Danes to increase the sexy quotient of his movie, B. Subhash is in total control of the celluloid medium.
Mithun-da crackles —playing a professor of Physics and Metaphysics for the first time and dominating every scene he is in. Special mention must be made of his expressions of unbridled lust every time Doli touches his feet—-when he gutturally groans, with his eyes half closed, ” Utho utho” (Rise Rise), you don’t know if he is asking Doli to stand up or something else.
A command performance—if there ever was one. Bhappi Lahiri’s moojick is melliflous as ever—recycling his 80’s tunes with gay abandon and the camerawork also is dizzying—- concentrating on interesting angles whenever there is a lady dancing.
Technical brilliance, an innovative, twisted plot, sensuality and a central theme of the eternal conflict between orthodoxy and bulging fat, “Classic Dance of Love” scores in all departments.
A stupendous achievement in Indian movie history.
As the punchline says:” It’s a classic. ”
Thumbs straight up.