Posted by: Ciaran | November 15, 2009

Reasons to love travelling #6 – Foreign film and music

Until the summer I’d never really considered watching a Bollywood movie.  Having worked in a cinema I’d seen snippets of some of the epics produced by the east, but I’d never fancied sitting through a mushy three-hour love story and tolerating either the bad dubbing or the eyeball-sapping subtitles.

The closest I had got was, like most of the rest of the world, watching Danny Boyle’s fantastic Slumdog Millionaire, though even that hadn’t piqued my interest sufficiently to explore the scene further.

But, as the saying goes, “When in Rome…”  So when in Jaipur in August I went to Raj Mandir, widely described as India’s best cinema, to see Love Aaj Kal.  The whole experience was a delightful coalescence of East and West – after four weeks of parathas and rice and a vegetarian diet I tucked into a McDonald’s chicken burger and followed it up with an ice-cream with some gusto, before crossing the road and going back into the Raj Mandir.

India and Nepal - Summer 2009 855

Got shouted at for taking this picture...

The inside is deliciously opulent, with sweeping stairways and big chandeliers.  I was admonished for taking photographs by a woman dressed like a maharani, so I went and explored the food offerings – the usual popcorn and confectionery, but also a range of Indian snacks like samosas and pakoras.

Tickets come in three different bands; I was automatically given the diamond rate as a tourist, which meant I was sat in a balcony on a very comfy reclining seat rather than sat on the harder seats down below.  It was a Tuesday night but it was still packed; cinema is big business in India. 

The audience cheered and whooped along as the on-screen frissons developed into relationships, break-ups and then ultimately a nicely tied-up wedding; pretty conventional stuff, but it was high on entertainment and dancing.  One especially memorable scene took place in London and saw a dancing beefeater emerge from a red phone box and end up in a nightclub (check his moves in the song link below).

It was very easy to follow what was going on as there were occasional words and conversations in English, and the plot wasn’t exactly deep.  The soundtrack was much more heavily integrated into the film than in Hollywood movies, with frequent song-and-dance routines performed by the characters.

The film was a Bollywood blockbuster, and the song Twist was playing everywhere (as was Jai Ho from Slumdog) – I managed to pick up a copy of the soundtrack for less than a quid in Kathmandu’s equivalent of HMV, and still haven’t tired of it.  Now the challenge is to find the DVD in time for Christmas…



  1. Now Father Christmas knows what to get for your stocking fillers! Assuming you’ve been good this year…

    I’m half expecting a lump of coal!

  2. … in *my* stocking (just to clarify).

  3. interesting…

    I love Indian movies..

  4. I have been to India too.. such a beautiful place

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