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Get a Move On!

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Last night, I made the ill advised decision to start a Bollywood movie at 12:30AM. Ill advised because I should have been working exclusively on the introduction to my thesis, or sleeping, and not indulging past-me's desire to watch a three hour film. No matter how much I assured myself I could do all of those things and still be productive the next day (the assurance was false -- it's 11:55, my eyes burn and I have moved on from my quad shot latte to drip coffee).

Anyway -- the movie my sisters and I watched was Om Shanti Om. If you're not familiar with the story, it follows to people in the '70s -- Om, a junior artist working on one of the biggest Indian films of the decade, who's a goof with great plans to be a huge movie star. He's in love with an actual huge movie star, Shanti, the lead heroine in the movie Om is working on. Through a twist of fate the two meet and Om falls deeper in love, sure in his belief that Shanti feels the same way. When he realizes she does not, he is heartbroken. But before their love story can move any further, the two die in a tragic fire. Fast forward thirty years later, Om has been reborn as an actual movie star, one of the most popular in the country -- and he decides he's going to expose the arsonist who started the fire that killed him and Shanti thirty years earlier.

It's a great movie! Sharukh Khan is in top form, the music is beautiful and fun, and if you're at all familiar with Bollywood icons it's a blast -- there's a lost of referencing the larger Bollywood culture. But after watching it a second time, my sisters and I all agree -- at least forty five minutes could have been cut. A huge chunk of the first half is setting up Om as a goof -- super loveable, with delusions of a future with Shanti. It's a way to show the Om of the '70s and the Om of present day are diametrically opposed in many ways, but that the sacrifice he made and the goodness of his soul in his first life has paid off dramatically in his second. ...But there's also a lot of mooning over Shanti (a whole ten minutes are devoted to Om talking to Shanti's billboard as if she were his girlfriend). There's a lot of talking about what will happen when Om makes it big, or what he should change his name to, or what his speeches will be when he wins an award. And very little of it enriched the second half.

Pacing is important! I'd seen Om Shanti Om before so I was able to convince my sisters to sit through all of it. And this isn't to say that things needed to happen one after the other in a boom!boom!boom! sort of sequence -- just that dwelling on certain things, or languishing in certain moments slowed everything way down and as a watcher, if I hadn't known the pay off, I wouldn't have sat through it. I think it's an important thing to keep in mind when you're writing -- are you writing this scene for you, or is the reader going to be just as invested in this conversation, or that scenery, or that relationship? If not? Get a move on! 

And I say this with the most kindness imaginable. Don't give your reader an excuse to put down your book!
Somaiya Daud

Somaiya Daud received her BA and MA from a university in DC in English. She is currently working on her PhD. When not writing or studying, she spends too much time on the internet yelling about comics and robots. Her first novel, Mirage, is coming 2017 from Flatiron Books.

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  1. Have watched this movie any times - its a good movie, but, like you said - certainly not something that makes me want to watch it again.
    Still, there's a difference between books and movies. A biggg one.

  2. Oh man, I love Bollywood but I totally agree--if you don't quite know what you're holding out for (usually Guy A to end up with Girl B) it can really drag. Om Shanti Om worked for me because my best friend had already seen it and got me psyched up for various plot points. Great post!


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Item Reviewed: Get a Move On! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sumayyah