Baron Dave Romm (barondave) wrote,
Baron Dave Romm
barondave

Tomorrow May Never Come: A quintessentially American Bollywood musical

Kal Ho Naa Ho: Tomorrow May Never Come (Netflix) Kal Ho Naa Ho (IMDb)

Tomorrow May Never Come takes place in New York City, and chunks of the dialog are in English. NYC is the fourth major character, says the director in the commentary. Some of the storylines might have worked in other settings, but overall this 2003 movie feels like the NYC I know. I haven't seen many Bollywood movies, and am happy I saw this one early in my exploration of the genre. It's a nice entry point to this range of foreign films, and I recommend it as such.

New York City is a city of immigrants, and many first-generation family stories take place there: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Gangs of New York, West Side Story, The Pawnbroker, among others. New York is where one can explore what it means go be an American while coming to grips with your heritage.

The basic plot is fairly simple, but it (and numerous important sub-plots) are enough to drive a three hour movie. (In theaters, there was an intermission.) The movie has elements of screwball comedy, Shakespearean farce, family dystopias and melodramatic tearjerker. Even the gay jokes work. Many of the scenes are in "sing song" (as the director put it), which doesn't mean a lot to me (who is mainly reading the subtitles) but adds to the comedy.

As usual with Bollywood movies, when someone breaks out in song and dance, everyone breaks out in song and dance. The colorful swirl of humanity is a visual treat. The music is good and the songs help drive the story.

Pretty Woman, the Roy Orbison song, is done as Hindi hip-hop, with break dancing in front of big American flags and people dancing in the street. There's disco and salsa dancing... in Hindi dress. The dynamics of various Indian castes and classes go over my head, but you can see them.

The disco number almost works; using an NYC nightclub to develop the characters does work.

The Director's Commentary by Nikhil Advani is good. He harps on his mistakes and almost gleefully points out continuity errors, but he makes salient observations and guides us through various decisions. More, he knows when to shut up. Too many commentary tracks are worse than sports broadcasters as they feel compelled to fill every second with their voice. Here, large swaths of silence let's the movie play out and he only talks when he has something to say.

I didn't get the bonus disk. I may, for the deleted scenes and such.

While Tomorrow May Never Come is not a perfect movie, both Carole and I sat through all three hours... twice, while listening to the commentary. And wept both times.

On the Shockwave Radio Theater scale of 9 to 23, I'd give Kal Ho Naa Ho: Tomorrow May Never Come about a 20 or 21. An excellent film to start exploring Bollywood films, and an excellent example of the genre even if you've seen several.
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