Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What's In a Name?

Seeing James Cameron’s Avatar, I was reminded of the original two Avatars.

One the film of the late 80s, starring Rajesh Khanna in the title role, which had a storyline a little like Baghban because the honest, do-gooder Avtaar Kishen (along his wife, played by Shabana Azmi) was subjected to untold misery by their sons.

The other Avatar is Avatar Gill – the balding character actor without whom Mahesh Bhatt never made films. I am not kidding. From Aashiqui onwards, I am unable to remember any film by the director, which did not have Avatar Gill in it! He made his acting debut on television as Kader Bhai, the tea-shop owner of the delightful Nukkad.

While on the subject, check out this picture from Avtaar's launch! (Hat Tip: Greatbong.)


Which led me on to other thoughts. Like, how many film names are the same in both Hindi and English?

For example, Kidnap. I am sure there has to be at least one Hollywood movie by that name but I haven’t heard of it.

There has been a Professor in Hindi (a delightful comedy starring Shammi Kapoor) but there has been a Nutty Professor in English. There has been a Chocolate in Hindi (almost a frame-by-frame copy of The Usual Suspects) and a Chocolat in English.

There has also been Amelie in English/French and Mili in Hindi. As has been a Wall Street in English. Deewaar and Sadak in Hindi! I know, I know… they don’t count!

So – how many more can you come up with?


While on the subject, how many film names tell you the story almost completely? For example, Snakes on a Plane. You don’t need to know anything else about the movie and there isn’t too much anyway! The title is the story.

I read in a blog somewhere (can’t find it – can somebody point out please?) that so is Robocop.

Three Men and a Baby. Gangs of New York. Die Hard with a Vengeance. All these films are almost completely described by their titles.

Hindi films – on the other hand – depend on rather evocative titles and names. Yaadon Ki Baaraat – how can you guess from the title (meaning Procession of Memories) that it is about three long-lost brothers trying to find their father’s killer (who goes around in two different sized shoes)? Similarly – Sholay, Deewaar, Trishul, Silsila, Kabhi Kabhie, Dil Chahta Hain, Kuch Kuch Hota Hain!

Even Hindi cinema’s longest title – Paap ko Jala Kar Raakh Kar Doonga (PKJKRKD) – is unable to explain the story too well.

On the other hand, Disco Dancer and Dance Dance are quite explanatory. Though the most comprehensively explicable title has to be Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

I know what you are thinking. One of those bloody lazy posts. Sigh - I know!


Bit Hawk said...

One more example is "Rocky" - the Hollywood one catapulted Stallone into stardom and the Bollywood one marked the arrival of Sanjay Dutt!

Rimi said...

Hindi film titles summarise the plot? Expect koro ki kore? Mysterious murder will kill the hardworking father off, widowed mother will spend half a lifetime in a forest, a child hiding inside a cupboard will remember a pendant which, miraculously, the murderer continues to wear. Child will also find time to fall in love (insert heroine's problems with the "suitable boy" her family has picked for her). Hero will need a support system, ergo insert little side narratives about a small-time gang-leader turned 'good', a funny sidekick whose other main function is eating, and a blind beggar who is really a CBI agent in disguise. Then there needs to be a mummy-reappearance scene, final mortal combat, and the eventual embrace of a bleeding hero and his weeping mum in white, while the heroine very properly looks on from a distance.

Put that into a title? Pagol na pet kharap?, as Tenida would ask.

suryadip said...

also there is fight club...

Aneela Z said...

i think Bhatt's " Murder" is self explanatory as well as " Paapi Gudiya" and " Qurbani" (as in qurban your love for friend!!)
Re: same film names, there is the ubiquitous " Love Story" ...there is also a angrezi film 100 Days, who knew!!
And there is Red..the very famous one part of Kieslowski trilogy, then a thriller released in 2008 about a dog named Red which is killed..and Amrita Arora and Shivdasani released Red which was a dog.

Thinking Cramps said...

How about the English movie Dunston Checks In translated as "Ek bandar hotel ke andar"? There's the plot in a nutshell :)

Garima said...

i think such movies are called "high concept", in an ironic tone, of course...

on a separate note, just started reading your blog (directed from the indiblogsomething award site), really enjoy your writing...

Anonymous said...

Surely Andheri Raat Mein Diya Tere Haath Mein is a longer title than PKJKRKD?