Sachi R

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Singin’ and dancin’ in the rain

Posted by rsachi on October 7, 2009

No Indian movie can survive without song and dance. Those arty ones where dance and music are eschewed are doomed to fail like a poorly fuelled rocket. But if you think, like I did till yesterday, that Indian heroes are the most unabashed dancers and can dance at the drop of a dupatta, even in VT and even in a karmic Slumdog British bash, think again.
I saw Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain last night. It was made in 1952, and is often ranked as the best musical of all time and the fifth best film in 100 years. It is a totally unreserved Hollywood musical, and songs and dances hit you as often as Pillaiyar temples in Chennai and medical shops in Bangalore. It is co-directed and choreographed by the lead actor, Gene Kelly. You should see him to believe what a man can do as a dancer.
Just watch these You Tube videos:
There are breathtaking dances right through, and Gene Kelly is unimaginably athletic, graceful and sings so well, too!  The camera work in 1952, with a smoothness that shows almost no editing, pays a huge tribute to the talents that did it in just one take.
The story itself  is interesting. The stars of the silent era have to face the prospect of singing and dancing and talking in the new talkies, and the star who commands a big rating has a woeful voice and no speaking talent. Her voice is dubbed by a lovely young talent, but the star insists that no one should know that her voice is dubbed and her voice-over artiste should remain unknown. But the hero, Gene Kelly, loves the voice-over talent and wants her to shine and be known. How all this comes about is the stuff of a great film.
I once uncannily wrote in my head a similar story. A Kannadiga starlet becomes famous for her Aishwarya-like looks in Telugu movies, but cannot speak the local tongue. Hence all her voice is dubbed in all her movies by an anonymous talent, whose emotive voice mesmerises audiences with a rich depth. So everyone in the industry keeps praising the starlet for “her voice”, when in fact, unseen and uncelebrated, someone else builds up the starlet’s entire charisma through her dubbed voice.

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