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What The Hell Is VEER-ZAARA, And Why Is It Making So Much Money!'

Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

All your answers lie within:

Hey Harry,

Veer-Zaara ranked #15 at the North-American boxoffice last weekend with a $843,010 gross (for a healthy $9,579 per screen average)

Some of your readers may wonder what the mysterious film "Veer-Zaara" is, on the American boxoffice list last weekend. (with a whopping per screen average from 88 theaters) It had a global release with over 700 prints across the world. Allow me to introduce some boring facts and statistics about Veer-Zaara for those completely unfamiliar with Bollywood, and explain why this particular movie is so special.

-Boring stuff-

Hindus worldwide usually celebrate Diwali this november, but in India this year it will not be remembered as a national holiday, but as the day of Veer-Zaara. (forgive me for sounding like Independence Day dialogue)

[Diwali: Festival of Lights. Gifts are exchanged and festive meals are prepared during Diwali. The celebration means as much to Hindus as Christmas does to Christians]

It is the most anticipated movie of the decade by over a billion people. Even before its release Veer-Zaara started breaking records. They had to build a dozen new multiplexes; on no single day in history have so many new cinemas opened as Diwali this year. The soundtrack sold well over a million copies. Just in the city of Mumbai (Bombay) it's being shown on 150 screens, with over 250 prints for the international market. Ticket rates in several cinemas, especially in big cities, are being hiked by quite a bit, to cash in on the craze for the film. All screenings are sold out for over month in some theaters. In the phenomenal advance booking across India Veer-Zaara is expected to shatter the highest ever first week collection record. It should make about US $4 million in India this week. That's a lot of money considering the average ticket price in India is less than a dollar (about 70 cents).

-Why all the fuss?-

First of all it is directed by Yash Chopra [the Steven Spielberg of India], the most powerful and commercially succesful director and producer for the past 50 years. He hasn't made a movie in 8 years, and age 72 most critics figured he would never direct again. More importantly he has never made a bad movie. All of his movies are considered Bollywood classics. Secondly it stars the most popular Indian actors: Shah Rukh Khan [the Tom Cruise of India], Preity Zinta (the Drew Barrymore of India), Rani Mukerji (The Jodie Foster of India: her character is based on Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jehangir), with supporting roles by Amitabh Bachchan (the Sean Connery of India) and a dozen popular actors including the Meryl Streep-, Russel Crowe-, Paul Newman- of India, well you get the idea. Thirdly the music is composed by someone who died 30 years ago! The movie contains songs that never were used before written by Madan Mohann (1924 - 1975) the most famous Indian composer. Fourtly they are sung by the top playback singers and including Lata Mangeshkar (1929 - ) a.k.a. "The Indian Nightingale" and most recorded artist in the world. (Guiness Book of Record: 50,000 songs!) Finally director Yash Chopra confidently claimed this movie will redefine the definition of "most epic love story in the world" crushing the reputation of Romeo & Juliet!

[So it would be like someone discovered songs written by Richard Rodgers for a Sound of Music sequel, Steven Spielberg is directing, starring Tom Cruise, Sean Connery, Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Russel Crowe, Drew Barrymore, the songs are sung by Madonna, Pavarotti and Elton John, Spielberg convinces his fans this will crush Titanic and it's being released this Christmas!]

Now doesn't that sound fantastic!? :-) Well it certainly is exciting, but by raising everyone's expectations to such a high level could also easily disappoint everyone. What if it sucks!? What is the movie about anyway? In summary: Indian guy (Veer) falls in love with Pakistani girl (Zaara)--> conflict (parents don't agree!) More conflict: the girl is already engaged! It's the usual story.

I heard this film is crap? Questions & Answers-

*Is it a slow, boring 3+ hours like all other Bollywood films with stupid singing and dance sequences? (that seems to be a negative Bollywood image)

YES! Isn't it wonderful!? You get 3+ hours for your money. Actually they use the 3+ hours running time to their advantage. Firstly for the audience to truly escape into this fantasy world. [Bollywood Escapism] Secondly they can explore the main characters to such an extent, you -as a viewer- know everything there is to know about the characters, their family, their feelings, their history, which will only increase the emotion at the end. (think Titanic) They use the time to show you why these characters love each other and what their fears are, until you really believe it! Unlike a lot of Hollywood films based around the premise "well... she's a hot girl, -so you stupid audience- will just have to accept that is why he falls in love with her". This film will show you why they fall in love. And you are heartless, if you won't tear up and cry at some point in this film, because you will genuinely care for these characters. (and by the way these are attractive actors)

*And there is no kissing and nudity?

Instead of kissing and a rather raunchy sex scene, they declare love to each other in songs. What can be more romantic than that? Also from a Dutch perspective this is a rather hypocritical question, Janet Jackson's breast-bearing causes a $550,000 fine. Using the F-word twice will automatically get you an R-rating. That's that's stupid stupid! Veer-Zaara and other romance Bollywood films are made for the whole family. Ideas of morality differ widely from group to group.

*Is it predictable, unrealistic, cheesy and overdramatic like all other Bollywood films?

YES! Thank God it is! Just as most Hollywood films are predictable, unrealistic, cheesy and overdramatic! That's what makes them so much fun. The dialogues can be cheesy at times, but they're cheesy for a cause. The "all Indians and Pakistanis should love each other" propaganda in the film is rather sweet. (Unlike some Hollywood films with a moralistic message they force down your throat)

*I hate musicals, I will hate Veer-Zaara...and all other Bollywood films!?

Well.... hmmm... If you thought The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, The Lion King, and Moulin Rouge were all crap. (and you think epic love stories portrayed in movies such as Love Story, Titanic and Romeo + Juliet are f**king stupid)... then yeah, you should avoid ALL Bollywood films.

[Note about me, because at this point you will think I am a Bollywood obsessed Indian, while in fact I'm a Dutch-Chinese filmstudent obsessed with Hollywood blockbusters, Troma, South-Korean drama and Japanese horror movies]

-So is it any good??

Yash Chopra should get nominated for the Nobel Peace Price for this movie! VEER-ZAARA IS MINDBLOWING. The way Chopra manipulates the audience and builds up emotion is the work of a genius. The directing, acting, cinematography, music (songs & lyrics), and story are all Oscar worthy. (and WILL WIN all the equivalent Indian Film Awards)

Veer-Zaara is Bollywood's Titanic, you'll get a positive energy boost bigger than while watching Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain [Amelie], it has universal themes you will understand with real emotionals that will make you cry, it's a Big Fish fantasy, it's Before Sunrise with singing and dancing, it makes Doctor Zhivago look like Lassie Come Home, it makes you forget you ever were so foolish to see The Guru, it makes Bride & Prejudice look even more disappointing, it makes you want to see more of "good" Bollywood films (it makes all guys want to see every movie that stars Preity Zinta), it's India's epic version of Romeo & Juliet. (and I think it's better!) It is Bollywood at its best.


So... wait... I’m still not sure. Did you like it or not?

"Moriarty" out.

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