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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!