Movie fans rejoice! It'll be all singing, all dancing, as the rich history of Indian popular movies finally gets its due with what Honolulu Academy of Arts curator of film and video Gina Caruso hopes will be the first annual Bollywood Film Festival, starting this weekend.
Bollywood Film Festival
Where: Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts
When: 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday through Jan. 3
Tickets: $7 general; $6 seniors, students and military; and $5 academy members
"Bollywood film reminds me of Hollywood film musicals from the 1960s, similar to 'West Side Story,' replete with soap opera, comedy, drama and, as a general rule, at least one wedding scene," she said. "One faithful filmgoer remarked that Bollywood is everything but the kitchen sink. The actors are dazzling and magnetic, the sets are sumptuous, and the films are always fast-paced. It's the ultimate escape and, with the exception of 'Omkara' (screening Feb. 1, see schedule below), most of the films are family-friendly.
"My 10-year-old son loves Bollywood films, especially the entertaining acrobatic action scenes," Caruso said.
With the sponsorship of patron Indru Watumull and the J. Watumull Fund, a select program of the best India has to offer, movies from 1960 to the present, will be screened at the Doris Duke Theatre.
And, in keeping with the theme, India Cafe will sell appetizers through much of the festival.
"Mughal-E-Azam (Loves of a Mughal Prince)"
1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Fifteen years in the making, this lavish costume epic finally hit Indian theaters in 1960, and has since become a bona fide classic. (It was restored, colorized and re-released theatrically in 2004.) The movie is the definitive version of a popular love story of a doomed relationship between a common woman and the prince son and heir apparent to his emperor father. When the emperor finds out and tries to thwart the romance, the son is so adamant in his love that he rebelliously leads an army against his father.
Shiraz Jivani, owner of the Asian multicultural megaplexes NAZ8 Cinema in California, will present the film and lead a post-screening Q&A session.
"Amar Akbar Anthony"
1 p.m. Sunday
Bollywood fans love "AAA," a fun Hindi movie of the late 1970s. Producer-director Manmohan Desai was known for his "lost-and-found" movies, and here the theme is illustrated with the story of three brothers separated at a young age from their parents and each other. Each are then adopted into families of different faiths, with their fathers being a Catholic priest, a Muslim tailor and a Hindu police inspector. But, of course, at the end, everyone realizes who they really are and the whole family is reunited, after many action and comedy sequences, and song-and-dance numbers.
"Satte Pe Satta (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers)"
7:30 p.m. Sunday
This 1982 movie was inspired by the 1954 MGM musical of the same English title. The eldest of seven boorish country brothers goes to the city and brings back his new wife to live with them. After "civilizing" them, the remaining brothers fall in love with other women. But one of them, a physically disabled girl, is threatened by an uncle who wants her dead so that he can claim her wealth. The eldest brother is then kidnapped by the uncle, and the rest of the brothers try to come to his rescue by switching in a man who conveniently looks like him.
"Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayeng (The Brave Heart Will Take the Bride)"
7:30 p.m. Monday
The "Titanic" of India. In fact, "DDLJ" was released the same year as that movie, 1995, and went on to have the longest continuous commercial run of any picture in the history of Indian cinema, playing in theaters through 2002.
The oldest daughter of a pious immigrant in London and the playboy son of a happily assimilated millionaire meet and fall in love while on a Eurail trip with friends. Unfortunately, the daughter is betrothed to her father's best friend's son through an arranged marriage.
When the immigrant moves his family back to his Punjabi village for the prepared wedding, the smitten young man follows and tries to insinuate himself into the household to try to win the family over.
"Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Something Happens)"
1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
The romantic comedy reunites the popular on-screen pair of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol of "DDLJ" fame.
The close friendship between two college students -- he's studly and she's a tomboy -- is threatened when the guy falls hard for the principal's beautiful daughter, causing the tomboy to leave the campus heartbroken. The remaining two eventually marry, but the woman dies in childbirth, leaving him a widower. But leave it to the 8-year-old daughter to try to reunite the two old friends, at the bequest of her dead mother through a letter.
"Kal Ho Naa Ho (If Tomorrow Never Comes)"
1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Bollywood comes to New York in this contemporary favorite of 2003. A carefree man arrives in an immigrant neighborhood in Queens, and captures the affections of a young woman who juggles quarreling with her extended family, college studies and helping out at her mother's faltering diner.
1 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31
The title character is a local goon in Mumbai who has kept his real identity a secret from his parents. They believe he is a doctor running a charity hospital. The charade falls apart when his father and his father's old friend decide that the friend's real-life doctor daughter would be a perfect match for Munnabhai. It's only when he's found out that Munnabhai decides to make a go of it in the world of medicine.
1 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1
A bold, modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare's "Othello" by noted writer-director Vishal Bhardwaj, following up on his cinematic take on "Macbeth" a couple of years ago. Set against the milieu of political warfare in the interiors of Uttar Pradesh, the film follows one man -- a half-caste who is the chief lieutenant to a chieftain that leads a gang of outlaws -- and his descent into sexual jealousy and the final wreckage of his love at the altar of blind obsession.
1 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2
Just released in American theaters in November, Caruso calls this "the first Hollywood Bollywood film ever made." Stylized in a similar fashion to Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge," it tells the timeless story of two young star-crossed lovers -- Raj, a free-spirited artist, and Sakina, a shy, melancholic woman -- whose all-consuming passion brings them to the brink of self-destruction.