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Feature Film

Bizarre Musical Sequence in “Hey Krishna”

It’s crazy-time in L.A. as producers scramble to get their Academy-submitted animated feature films qualified by finding screens to show them on. Eric Graf saw Hey Krishna which is playing in Norwalk, CA. Here’s his capsule review:

I’d describe it as a Sunday School movie for Hindus. It’s well done for what it is, and has some interesting moments here and there, but the target audience is obviously devout Hindus who already know what the hell is going on.

Well, except for one thing. It also contains this bizarre musical number that is almost worth the price of admission (if not worth sitting through the other 116 minutes of the movie). It hits at approximately the 51 minute mark, and its like Jessica Rabbit suddenly showing up to do a pole dance in the middle of a Veggie Tales movie. I found it unsubtitled on YouTube (see above), but you might want to wait and see it in context with the subs, so you’ll appreciate what a strange moment this is.

“Putana” is some sort of she-demon who specializes in the mass-slaughter of babies, and this is her introducing herself. None of the characters seen here, other than Putana, have anything whatsoever to do with the rest of the movie … and Putana is only disguised as a hottie anyway, a disguise that also has nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

Apparently this sequence was shoe-horned into the film, as a music video to promote a song by Hindi pop star Sunidhi Chauhan. If this is the high point, I can skip the rest of the flick…

  • Michel Van

    Here’s the official Trailer to the movie:

    Watching this “Bizarre Musical Sequence” I had the impression the makers were not quite right;
    were they trying to imitate Disney or Don Bluth?

    My take: It has typical problem of all Bollywood movies: ultra long length, during which action, dancing and musical sequences appear for no reason. At 117 minutes, by Indian standards, its considered a “short film”.

    So Disney and company are safe, for the moment, until Bollywood figures it out that they have to recut their
    movies for the Western Market…

    • Zéquinha de Abreu

      @Michael Van on: “were they trying to imitate Disney or Don Bluth?”

      Of course. That’s how any regional art/culture in the world evolves, from apache christian paintings to thai funk music, getting in touch with other manifestations of art modifies an whole culture. That’s what americans do to, copying foreign movies, for example, and delivering to your own people since ever.

      Just like you are disgusted about this peace of animation, you’rent able to list a couple of really good movies or books that have come from your own land last year that matches to the best of american stuff like Mark Twain or Tennessee Williams.

      About Hey Krishna low quality for your standarts, give them a couple of decades.

  • Sotiris

    The Flash animation used looks crude, cheap and unappealing. The song is not good either.

  • “Puttana” with two ts means “prostitute” in Italian. It’s part of the word “puttanesca.” Must complicate translation a bit.

    • Mudmarox

      Puttanesca it’s a kind of spaghetti.. nothing to do with prostitution :)

      • Polecat

        “Spaghetti alla puttanesca” means “dirty spaghetti” and refers to the dark spots of spice in the sauce. I speak some Italian, so there is a bt of a linguistic connection.

  • Mudmarox

    Putana is very similar to the italian word “Puttana”. It’s an offensive word that means “Bitch/whore”.

  • ikas

    Putana is an important antagonist in the tales involving the protagonist Krishna.
    But then, this character introduction song sequence seems to be made into an “item number”, in typical Bollywood style. An “item number” in a Bollywood movie is a “hot” dance by a “hot” female (who typically has no other role in the movie) for a song scripted usually with “hot” words. I am truly flabbergasted by seeing the possibility of an item number in a mythological animation movie !

  • Steve

    Beck is astute in pointing out the limited appeal of Indian-styled animation. With ‘Arjun’ (now available on Netflix) as good example to compare with, the storytelling, pacing, and characters are not a good match in America.
    There is no doubt there are Hindu stories to tell and competent animators in India willing to tell them. However, there is still a huge cultural divide. Hindu folklore is not as ‘popular’ as Greek, Roman, or even Norse.
    Think the dance number is a desperate attempt to include an element of Bollywood westerners recognize.
    Hindu stories need to be made, at least in the short-term, in the west. Less ‘Bolly’, more ‘Holly’.

    • Hopefully that Mumbai Musical Dreamworks has in store will be a nice mix of Holly and Bolly that has a larger appeal.

  • James

    So, in other words, a “big-lipped alligator moment”?

  • Param

    This is not for you and you shouldn’t be watching this. And I am talking about the entire movie. Firstly, because non-Indians have no sense in understanding it which probably is the same case with the guys that produced this movie. I am hating them for releasing this in non-Indian territories. These Indian mythological don’t have literal meaning, they in the form of stories and characters actually represent various things a human might face in his life and our small brains have yet to develop to understand them completely. But, defending the producers, you have to understand that India is diverse place and here people have range of likings and understanding. Such kind of musical sequence in such kind of movie is probably producers urge to make it liked by all range of people. It has been said here many times, this is just difference between religion, communities, countries …you cant relate to this same way Indian can’t relate to Easter and Halloween, or zombie stories. So again, this is not meant for you – so simply don’t watch it!

    • arv

      I can’t understand one thing: the West is also different culture for us, so why do we understand their movies? For example, you can take any Disney movie and dub it in any language, and it would be equal appealing. You have to accept that there is some universal language which we Indians don’t know and are not bothered to know at all.

      • ikas

        The way I see it, Indian audience seem to like both hollywood [going by their box office numbers] and native fare. The west is yet to grow out of the fare that hollywood keeps churning out.

    • Eric Graf

      Param – It was submitted to the American Oscars. It played in the AMC Theater in Norwalk, CA (a mainstream theater, not a Bollywood specialty house). They sold me a ticket. And there are clips on YouTube. So yes, I’d say it is for us whether we understand it or not, and I get to watch it if I so choose. One thing I can say for sure about Americans; we don’t like being told what we can and can’t watch.

      That being said, it was obvious that I was missing a lot. The movie seemed to be full of plot holes and mistakes, but after reading the Wikipedia articles on some of the main characters, it became obvious that there were a lot of things that they just didn’t have time to go into. In other words, this is not a good introduction to the Krishna story for someone (like me) who knows nothing about it. Too much is left unsaid. Probably a good thing, since the movie was plenty long enough as it was.

      The strangest thing about this particular musical number is how out of place it is in the context of the movie. Yes, there are other musical numbers, some of which stop the movie dead in its tracks, but nothing similar to this. The others are integrated, both stylistically and plot-wise, with the movie. This one just pops up out of the blue, and adds nothing to the story. If you snipped it out entirely, at the exact points where the YouTube video starts and stops, nobody would ever miss it.

      I happen to like the number, while acknowledging that the animation is low-rent. It added a much-needed energy boost to what was, up to that point, a rather dull, simplistically plotted movie. Again, it helps to see it in context.

      One big cultural disconnect I’ve noticed between Indian and American movies, which was particularly obvious in this one, is that we have such different concepts on how heroic characters should behave. Krishna came across to me as an irritating, spoiled little twerp who never got punished for his bratty actions. Obviously this is not the reaction they were going for. I wonder how the Veggie Tales would play with a Hindu audience?

      For what it’s worth, an Academy qualifier run isn’t exactly the same thing as “releasing” the movie in the US. These Academy qualifier screenings consist of one theater in LA County. They aren’t really promoted – you have to actually work at seeking them out – and I was literally the only person in the theater at the Sunday afternoon screening I attended. The average American is never even going to know this movie exists.

      Unless it gets nominated. And that, I’m afraid, is not going to happen.

      • arv

        Eric in India awareness of animation is very low most of the people think that animation is some kind of movements of cartoons. The formula is take some masala of bolywood mix it with animation techniques AND HERE IT IS YOUR ANIMATION FEATURE.

        • Param

          ^ arv : that’s what am actually trying to tell ..movies made by Disney etc are not religion or “belief” constrain ..and I agree that we have to use that “universal language”

          ^ Eric Graf : please don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to say that “don’t watch it”, just that the way it is made, it shouldn’t be made available to non-Indian folks. And note that I wasn’t differentiating Indians and Americans, just pointing out difference between cultures. We are probably putting a wrong impression of these mythological stories in front of the world and that’s what hurt me most ! Peace !! :)

          • Eric Graf

            I think we are mostly in agreement, Param. I don’t think there are many religions out there that can be fully explained in a two-hour movie. And those that can … well, we won’t go there.

            A one-week Academy qualifier run in Norwalk isn’t exactly “making it available” anyway. If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? And does it matter?

            So far as I know, only one non-Hindu in all of America saw “Hey Krishna”, and that’s me. The showings before mine (including, presumably, Friday and Saturday) obviously weren’t attended by anyone, or they would’ve complained about the audio being way too loud like I did.

  • Silence Dogood

    I am all for being culturally copious, but that just is really…odd.

  • Well, if I’m the only non-Indian and non-Hindu who thinks this clip and the trailer for the whole film was fun and appealing, I’ll wear that badge of shame. On the basis of these I’ll happily watch the film when I get the chance.

    • Mapache

      It kinda looks interesting. Yes.

  • Face

    It’s all about money. Made for money, promoted for money. Made from false depths.

    Playing safe never got anyone anywhere.

  • Face

    And BTW my comment above goes equally to 80% cookie cutted american animation movies. Which are quickly becoming fuckn stale as a 10 day old turd.

    A hyper character and a cool character meet and “gags” ensue.