Moulin Rouge

Obviously, being an Indian drenched in 100s of musicals (are they really?) a year, I should be lying if I say I don’t like “Moulin Rouge”. The thought that came to my mind immediately after watching this movie is that “when are our guys going to make a real musical like this?” Of course, earlier Indian movies were pure musicals with more than 60 songs that were shot exactly like a stage drama. I don’t want it to be in that way.

With lots of talented composers, singers, choreographers and directors who can make brilliant music videos I think we are wasting a lot of time. It is for sure, a musical cannot be logical but we can try to be as realistic as possible and at the same time squeeze the creative juices to flow beyond horizons to come up with something that is even more spectacular than Moulin Rouge. I hear what you say, Moulin Rouge had a suitable period and place where it is possible to make such a story but where do we find such a logical plot in India to fit in our songs. Moulin rouge actually pays tribute to Indian Musicals. The main play “Spectacular Spectacular” around which the whole plot of the movie revolves is set in India.

Moulin Rouge is also as unrealistic as any Indian movie, if we consider the situations in which the characters sing. For example, the song that comes when Sistine’s father goes to that duke to say that Sistine will not join him for the dinner this night. Most of their real life conversations are also in songs. But they don’t just dance in front of the camera by giving just enough lip movements like a student dancing for a college cultural on the stage and also as it is in most of the Indian movies. They show a wide range of emotions while they sing. What makes it brilliant is the way they have sandwiched a sweet love story and various real emotions like love, anger, betrayal, and jealousy, longing and suffering with in it. The song “Roxanne” and its visualization is the perfect example of it where a lot happens in parallel to drive the emotions to the audience through music.

Though it is just another love story, the screenplay plays the trick. The story of the play for which the characters in the movie are working is the story of the movie itself. The play writer makes his own love story into a play and as his love story is still happening, the real story of the movie and that of the play meets at the end and picks a climax of its own. This kind of interweaving actually makes the happenings interesting when accidentally in casual conversations, the play writer is referred as Sitar Player (the hero of the play) and the Duke is referred as the Maharajah (the villain in the play). The songs are well written, beautifully composed, rendered and choreographed. The visuals are breathtaking. Performances are good though they have gone for method acting in synch with the genre they have chosen to make. Nicole Kidman won a deserving Oscar nomination for her performance in this movie.

Hope someone will do a real Indian musical in the near future. May be a Maniratnam or Farhan Akthar. Let us see.


Jo said...

Yep, I like the way that the songs blend into the story the hollywood musicals. Unlike in most tamil movies where there is a song sequence (taking place in a different place altogether) just inserted in. I think that Moulin Rouge shows that you can include songs as a part of the narrative and still show the grandeur, the wonderful costumes, choreography, etc.

Btw, Nicole Kidman did not win an Oscar for Moulin Rouge though she was nominated. Halle Berry won it that year for Monster's Ball. Nicole Kidman won an Oscar for The Hours the following year.

Suresh Kumar said...


agreed and thnx for correcting me on Kidman not winning the oscar.

prasad said...

I think Kamal Hassan is the one who have tried attempting this in recent times.

the song in anbe sivam (naatukoru seithi) with the factory workers, I thought it was done in a musical style with narration. I liked it very much on screen.