-- Adventures in Cable: Indian Music Videos --
Update 18 March 2005 by Amazing Ben
So, it's halftime of the Noon games in the first round of Friday's NCAA March Madness action, and I'm taking a brief pause from staring at ESPN.com's automatically updating college basketball scoreboard to tell you about something that has been much on my mind in the last couple of weeks or so. In the infinite suckdom that is Saturday morning programming, my wife and I have been hard-pressed to find anything even remotely resembling watchable television. This unfortunately has been the trend for some time now, which is disappointing given our hatred for the outdoors and humanity in general. However, being the forty-hour-a-week overworked corporate wage slaves that we are, the fact that there is nothing good on does not necessarily mean that we don't park our asses in front of the television and stare at it blankly, hoping that this week will be different than the last; it just means that we are stuck watching the first thing that catches our attention as we flip through the four billion channels afforded to us by self-inflicted prison that is digital cable. During the last couple of weeks, the thing that has managed to snap us out our Saturday morning pre-coffee zombiedom more often than not is a program on the International Weirdness Channel called "The Asian Music Video Hour", which is sort of the VH1 Top 40 Countdown with samosas and bindis. They play like an hour of non-stop Bollywood musical hits and the hosts rattle on intermittently in a random mixture of English and Hindi which sort of ends up sounding like when I go into the convenience store across the street and the woman behind the counter is talking to me about the weather or some crap at the same time that she's having a heated discussion on the phone with her husband and I can sort of figure out what's going on but the stuff that I really want to be able to understand is pretty much indecipherable.
Every week I try to work an insanely long run-on sentence into my update somewhere. I think that last one really is the crowning achievement in my career.
A typical Bollywood street gang.
Anyways, we've watched AMV (as it's called by the hardcore fans such as myself and probably at least one other person) for as long as we've been able to take it over the last couple of weeks (we've found our limit to be about a half-hour) and I feel like this website is a good medium for me to communicate to you exactly what you're missing by sleeping in on Saturday mornings and having a life that doesn't consist of getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home and complaining about having to go to work the next morning.
First off let me set the record straight by saying that all the chicks in Indian music videos are hot. I have to admit that I was a little surprised when I first came to this realization but every time I watch this show I discover that India is in fact packed full of hot chick goodness. Over the last couple of weeks I think I've seen like two or three unattractive women on AMV and they were mostly just because they had bad teeth or a crooked nose or something else that probably only I would notice, because when you're as hot as I am you can afford the luxury of being incredibly picky when it comes to beauty in the opposite sex. However all the women in these videos invariably have smoking hot bodies, and they all have Ph.D.'s in shaking it around like it was their job or something. Every chick I've seen on this show is lean or toned but still curved in all the right places, which is totally important when it comes to chicks. I mean, I never thought I'd be turned on by watching a chick dance around in a sari and a beaded headdress, but DAMN they "got it goin' on" as they say somewhere. Even my wife thinks they're hot, and that's saying something because she's WAY more picky when it comes to women than I am.
Now in the same vein, all the dudes are old. I'm not sure if like arranged marriages to your father's friends is hot in India or something but you'd have to think that these hot chicks could get some better guys than the dudes you see traipsing around these videos in their leather pants and unbuttoned dress shirts. It's almost a crime against humanity how exceedingly hot these women are compared their male counterparts, sort of like the fucked-up musical equivalent of watching Ron Jeremy get it on with Petra Nemcova or Carrot Top piss on the Taj Mahal or something. Plus for some boneheaded reason whenever the guy in the video is forced to decide between hooking it up with the super hot chick with the giant rack or the moderately decent-looking chick with a gargantuan forehead he almost always goes with the least attractive option, which is sad and wrong and also wrong and sad. I guess they're trying to show that even if the opportunity presents itself, every guy should know better than to get it on with someone THAT much hotter than he is, which I guess is a pretty good lesson that a lot of guys should learn, but the result is a guy who basically combines his unbelievable luck with the decision making abilities of a blind muppet to result in something that only succeeds in pissing me off. I will however say the following about the guys on this show: They can dance their asses off. It's actually pretty impressive. It looks easy but trust me, it's not. I should know. I've tried it and I suck. So you know it's really difficult if even I can't do it and I'm like the unholy love-child of Gregory Hines and Dean Fucking Martin.
So Hindi is a hell of a language, huh? There's really nothing else out there like it. When you combine the crazy intricacies of the dialect with the style of music and the obscenely high vocal range of the actors and actresses the result is something that simultaneously melodic, bizarre and irritating. I can't decide whether or not I like it, but that doesn't mean I don't walk around my apartment on Saturday afternoons butchering the Hindi language belting out my best renditions of Bollywood's greatest hits while trying to get my wife to bellydance in a half-shirt, veil and sarong for me. The strangest thing about the whole debacle though is that every single song sounds like it was sung by the same two people. It's like a conspiracy. There's a guy with a mid-range, very Indian sounding voice and a woman who (judging by her vocal range) is about three feet tall and only sings/shrieks in the highest octave audible to the human ear. Combine this with the guitars, sitars, tabla, whistles and bells in the background and mix it with the visual of twenty women in traditional Indian garb shaking their hips faster than automatic paint-mixers at the hardware store and you have the sort of thing that will really captivate your attention when you're half-awake on a Saturday morning. While it's true that my wife and I usually just watch the first ten minutes of the show with our mouths open except for random sputterings of, "What the fuck is going on here?", the fact remains that there's really nothing on American TV that's anything like it. That's probably for the best because I feel like sometimes the videos and the music are crushing my brain or stealing my life force, but generally it makes for an interesting and insane change of pace, particularly when I'm in a really weird mood. It's like crazy, cool and funny, sort of like the first time you visit The Ultimate Ninja Website and you still haven't figured out what the hell you're looking at. The videos sort of assault all of your senses at once and you're left wondering what the hell is going on.
Good luck trying to figure it out, too. These videos have some of the most convoluted and crazy plot lines I have ever encountered. I think that even if I could understand the language I would still be lost about 85% of the time. Here are a couple of examples:
Video #1: The Random Truck Ride
A chick is standing in an old Indian town, singing in a high pitched voice while children run around and break pots filled with water. The chick continues to sing and carries a pot around on her head. The camera then cuts to a guy wandering through the jungle, looking up to the sky and singing a duet with her. It's like a fucked-up version of that scene from An American Tail. The chick then starts running through the street pulling shirts off clotheslines and kicking children. Cut to the chick on the back of a military jeep/truck thing filled with sweaty guys driving down a dirt road through the jungle. The guy who was singing finds her in the jungle and starts running after the truck. The chick is hanging off the back up the truck and throws her arms up in the air. Doves fly out of the back of the truck and the woman smiles. The guy smiles back and keeps running after the truck. The video ends. I feel like this should be a Mentos commercial or something.
Video #2: Indian Family Home Videos
This video looks like it was shot in the late 70's, but I have a feeling that it wasn't. There is a large family of stodgy looking people in velour suits inside someone's house. One guy who looks like an Indian version of the old host from Family Feud starts dancing around and singing to all the women in the room, who are presumably related to him. The distinction is never made, though they seem awfully happy to have this guy crooning less than two inches from their faces. Cut to a shady-looking guy standing behind a large houseplant wearing extraordinarily large Top Gun-style orange-tinted sunglasses with a kickass bushy molester mustache. The guy keeps singing and this random hot chick jumps out of the crowd and starts singing with him. Cut back to the guy in the bushes who is smiling. The chick and the Family Feud guy dance around and sing and the video ends. I sort of feel like I've just seen something really dirty, but I know that I haven't.
Video #3: Weirdo Pool Party at the Beach House
There is a guy on the beach at night playing the guitar and singing with two hot chicks. Cut to outside during the day on some random pool deck. The guy and one of the girls are wearing street clothes, dancing around like freaks and screaming unintelligably. This chick looks SUPER hot until they show close-ups of her face. Something's not right, but I can't figure out exactly what. Some dude shows up in a sombrero and a poncho with a plastic hook for a hand. A bird flies by. The crazy guy is looking at these two and gives the international sign for, "What the fuck is wrong with you"? They continue to dance anyways. A guy in a monkey suit shows up and pushes the crazy man into the pool. A parrot flies by. The video ends.
These are just the three examples that I could think of off the top of my head right now. The show is like an hour of this sort of crap happening all the time, which is awesome and scary. Every once in a while they show some sort of crazy religious service where a large group of people sit in a semi-circle around a twenty foot tall neon light-encrusted statue of Shiva singing, chanting and lighting things on fire. They have subtitles for the services, which make it all the better because they're saying the craziest shit imaginable like, "When you destroy the world we will all have supreme power for worshipping you" and other kinds of crap that you don't usually hear outside of a Christian Church or Satanic Cult. It's rad.
However, I think my favorite aspect of the Asian Music Video Happy Hour or whatever are the commercial breaks. While that may sound bitchy, I think it's also the truth. All the ads are for local restaurants, rest stops and dentists in the Bakersfield, California region. Considering that I'm living in Boston and will probably never be within two hundred miles of the Punjabi Rest Stop and Mini Mart on Adams Street next to the Citgo, it's really badass to see these super low-budget commercials and people trying to sell these products to me that I would never be able to buy even if for some reason I wanted to. The only disappointing thing is that I get all pumped when they show the commercials for the Kingsville County Punjabi Festival, which looks totally awesome but sadly is about three thousand miles from home. Plus, I really dig Always-Wears-a-Black-Turban Lawyer Man, though I'll never be able to partake in his services just like I'll never be able to eat one of the delicious looking samosas from Samosa Garden on Oak Street either. Damn I love samosas. When the restaurant has the word "samosa" in the title, you know they've got got samosas too.
Well, those are really the highlights of my Saturday mornings. While it may be sad, it's still better than mowing the lawn or getting your teeth pulled or whatever it is that normal people do when they're not watching half-naked Indian women dance around like freaks while their fifty year-old boyfriends get pushed into swimming pools by giant robots. Try to catch AMV the next time you're REALLY bored and sitting around your house on a Saturday morning like a total loser. Until then, eat my nuts.
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