Loving Bollywood German Style...Just Too Much!
Bollywood, we love you!
A friend sent the link to me without comment. So nothing had really prepared me for Lebe Jetzt! Dumbfounded, a little embarrassed for the ‘actors’ on screen, I had to switch off the computer after a few minutes that seemed much longer somehow. I went back to it a day later when I learnt that it was ‘trending’ and was all over the social media. Maybe I had missed something?? So there I was back with Lebe Jetzt, eyes growing wider with every passing moment in utter disbelief… what the hell is this all about?
The same night, which is really just last night, I met friends for dinner---a journalist, a dancer, a lawyer. And of course Lebe Jetzt came up for discussion, and we all burst out laughing. We were literally rolling on the floor, recalling scenes, and gestures. Can you believe it? Noooo! And we were back laughing, tears rolling down our cheeks, and wondering what this video that seemed to be so seriously made, was trying to say.
Lebe Jetzt is the German for Kal Ho Na Ho, the Karan Johar movie with Shahrukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Saif Ali Khan. Lebe Jetzt substitutes the Bollywood actors with stars albeit from the field of diplomacy---German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner, his wife Eliese Steiner, and in the role of Saif our very own former minister of external affairs Salman Khurshid. With a cameo appearance by aggressive feminist Madhu Kishwar, as Steiner’s mother sitting by his side while he is in hospital, looking younger than him, and almost romantic while holding his hand.
Its a parody right? No, its serious. Okay so they were all just having fun? Oh no, not at all, they were serious. Or took themselves seriously as the acting, if it could be called that, and shots at the end of the making of the video revealed so very clearly. The video was launched at a big party by the Ambassador attended by the glitterati who, in true Delhi chattering classes form, showered praise on the ‘stars’!
Weiner was able to get the German government part with money, for what is presented as a tribute to Bollywood, but comes across as sheer indulgence for the three main actors. “Loving Bollywood….Too Much” is the rather tacky sign at the beginning, with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany allowing its Ambassador and his wife indulge, perhaps their own fascination with the Indian film industry.
The German embassy staff play the extras, dancing in the background while the camera focuses on the slightly heavy footed Khurshid and Eliese as they romance through dance, as per the original song. Weiner mouths the Hindi words, in New Delhi locations with India Gate always an impressive backdrop, shaking his head, making some of Shahrukh Khans moves, and smiling into the camera as he ‘sings’. Khurshid copies Saif Ali Khan, or at least it seems he is trying to, but ends up grimacing more than smiling. Of course there is the scene where he and Eliese Weiner sit in a park back to back, but unlike the original where the two share a apple, these two share a pretzel. And how do we know this important detail, that it is a pretzel because there is a sudden blurb on the screen informing us of the fact. We are also told that this video is shot in India, unlike the original song that was shot in the US!
How this is a tribute to Bollywood is difficult to say, more so as the movie selected is now over a decade old. It is certainly a tribute to the envoy, his wife, and perhaps Khurshid----oh,if only he had smiled a little more convincingly!!
Well thank you Germany for making our day, or rather night---and for the many laughs that are reverberating through India as Lebe Jetzt trends!