A musical from halfway across the world

I should have liked La La Land.

I do not know what explains my bias for choreographed song-and-dance sequences, opening dance numbers, duets, solo performances by either of the leads, background dancers always in sync, characters speaking in verses and breaking into song to let us know of their feelings – these things aren’t unusual, they are the norm. Maybe because this was the only kind of cinema I knew for a long time, before I could rent video cassettes of English movies from that slightly more upscale video rental library. It was the order of things then, our movies needed these songs and dances the way they needed dialogues. A well choreographed sequence would break the monotony in a dull movie, an inventive step would be recreated forever, going down in the history books as artefacts of popular culture, a star who is also a dancer makes us joyful and enthusiastic.

And then there is La La Land.

It has everything – a love story, an actress looking for a break and a jazz musician looking to set up a jazz bar, great tunes, an opening number where everyone dances in perfect coordination and formation, introduction songs for the leads, a duet following a meet-cute, even a dream song. And yet something was off, I couldn’t put my finger on it, a feeling of mild irritation, impatience, some annoyance at how out of place it all looked. I was a bit insecure –but what about all those Oscar nominations– I couldn’t understand it until my wise friend told me, your problem is you find it incongruous to watch white people doing these things.

He could be onto something.


2 thoughts on “A musical from halfway across the world

  1. “I couldn’t understand it until my wise friend told me, your problem is you find it incongruous to watch white people doing these things.”
    –> LOL! The only musical that I have ever watched (outside of Indian cinema, that is) was “Evita.” My goodness, I couldn’t stand it. Madonna’s singing was just fine but to your point, the incongruity was too much to take!
    On a tangential note, an American friend of mine and I once watched “The Godfather” and “Nayagan” back to back. (Yes, BACK TO BACK!) He said that he had very little trouble watching “Nayagan” because at no point did he feel that the characterization of the Don lost its seriousness. I don’t know if you have read Kamal’s write-up in “The Hindu” titled, “Of course, Velu Nayakar doesn’t dance.” Check it out, if you are interested:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have read it. 🙂
      I have watched the Broadway musical Book of Mormon, and I enjoyed myself Too Much. Of course, I like all the animated movies too. But the movies… Still can’t figure out what’s wrong. 😀


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