Nov 13, 2005

happy diwali!

Posted by Mary |

Diwali is the Hindi festival of lights. The Hindi New Year, if you will. Living in Fairbanks, Alaska, I wouldn't expect to find much Hindi culture, but the UAF Namaste India Club hosted a Diwali celebration at Hutch on Saturday evening. Tickets were hard to come by, but I snagged two. After getting gussied up in a sari and a salwar kameez, Susan and I set off for the evening.

I wasn't aware of how many Indians were in Fairbanks until we arrived at Hutch. Students lined the hallway greeting us with "Namaste," and more milled around inside the hall. An hour of entertainment was scheduled prior to the buffet, and it included singing and dancing. We especially enjoyed an 8-person dance routine that began with a folk dance and ended with a dance to a small part of "Maahi Ve." The men and women dancing seemed to be channeling their inner Shahrukhs and Aishwaryas. We also greatly enjoyed an East-meets-West dance by a young man that included moonwalking and a little bit of "Billie Jean."

Of course, as soon as the buffet was opened, Susan and I hopped in the line. Chana Masala, Lamb Korma, Palak Muttar, Gulab Jamun....I could go on. The only option for Indian food in Fairbanks is inside Pizza4Less. According to Susan, you now have to call 2 hours in advance at dinnertime, and they may or may not be cooking that day. Fairbanks take note - we need an Indian restaurant.

After dropping Susan at home, I wasn't ready to shake the Diwali spirit just yet. Instead I settled into the loft and watched "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam." While I normally enjoy Bollywood, this one didn't really work for me. Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai play the two star-crossed lovers. Although they're both normally fine, their performances lacked in this movie. Salman relied on taking his shirt off a lot, which I certainly didn't mind, though I would have enjoyed a little less of the "talking-to-my-dead-father-in-heaven" bit. Both characters were headstrong and bratty, and it was hard to feel any passion from them or understand how their relationship evolved.

As is often the case in Bollywood films, the lovers were kept apart by a cruel twist of fate. In this case, it was Aishwarya's arranged marriage to Ajay Devgan. Naturally, she doesn't love him and mourns the loss of Salman. The movie took an unexpected twist when Ajay decided to help her reunite with Salman. Although I'm normally not a fan of happy endings, I would have preferred it to the moralistic drivel that concluded this movie.

Despite all the unenjoyable aspects of this movie, it still made me happy. Why? The dance scenes. With lyrics by Mehboob and a group of choreographers, all of the dance scenes were lavish, colorful affairs. Nit-pickers will also appreciate that all of the scenes in "Italy" were shot in Hungary, and all of the "Italians" were speaking Hungarian.