Dec 18, 2008

Entertainment - Swiss get a taste of Bollywood, in their own Alps

Shilpa Jamkhandikar

PANAJI (Reuters Life!) - A Swiss filmmaker mesmerised by Bollywood's over-the-top offerings is giving audiences back home a taste of music and melodrama in a new film that has the Alps for a backdrop.

"Tandoori Love," a romantic comedy about an Indian cook wooing a Swiss girl, is a 92-minute saga with song and dance, fights and a happy ending -- the usual trappings of films from Mumbai, home to the world's most prolific film industry.

"I love the energy that Indian films have -- the songs, the dances and the melodrama," director Oliver Paulus told Reuters recently in the tourist haven of Goa, where the film was shown at the International Film Festival of India.

"I wanted to bring that energy to European films, which typically are very quiet and silent," he said.

Paulus had his first brush with Bollywood at a small cinema hall in a remote town in north India.

The director remembers being surprised by fellow spectators throwing things at the screen, shedding tears for the heroine or trying to warn the hero when the villain was creeping up on him.

"And I thought to myself that this is what cinema is," said Paulus. "Not the quiet, civilised way in which we watch movies at the multiplex."


Over the years, many Indian crews have captured the scenic vistas of Switzerland on film, but mostly as a backdrop to song-and-dance sequences.

Paulus' protagonist in "Tandoori Love" is a member of one of these film crews -- a cook who falls in love with a waitress in a nearby guesthouse.

There is singing and dancing in the Swiss film too, but Paulus said he modified the formula to suit Western audiences.

In one scene, the heroine dances to a Hindi song in a supermarket, but, instead of beaming away at the end of the sequence like most Indian actresses would, she doesn't look too pleased with herself.

"People in the West are used to a different way of story telling, a different film culture," Paulus explained.

In recent years, Indian directors have experimented with unconventional themes and films eschewing the mandatory dance sequences, but these are few and far between.

Paulus admits that the Bollywood style of filmmaking may never be as international as the Indian film industry would like it to be, but whether the Swiss will accept a bit of both worlds, the director has just a few weeks to find out.

"Tandoori Love" opens in Switzerland in January.

No comments: