Friday, August 20, 2010

My Friend Ganesha

It's no secret that I love Bollywood films, and I love mythology, so this looked like a fun movie to watch.  Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the halfway point before becoming bored.  Besides the "Masters of the Universe" quality graphics during the mythology scenes, I found a lot of the story to be predictable despite the difference in culture.

The story revolves around a young boy, 8 year old Ashu, whose parents are too busy and stressed at work.  Ashu is being picked on at school, and only the wise fool housekeeper understands him, so she tells him about Ganesha (here the video cuts to pure animation as we see the adventures of young Ganesha), and explains to him that if his father brings Ganesha into his house that Ganesha will be Ashu's friend.

When dad comes home from work, Ashu asks him to bring home Ganesha.  When dad refuses, Ashu throws a tantrum.  Finally dad agrees.  Oh, and of course all sorts of bad things are happening now:  Ashu becomes ill, mom and dad lose their job, and of course only god can help them now.

The idol is brought home and placed in the family shrine. Ashu is angry that the idol doesn't speak to him, nor does it help in any way, but after telling the idol he will never speak to it again, a young Ganesha appears to the boy and tells him that he (Ganesha) will appear any time Ashu calls on him.

At this point I'm rather disappointed in the movie, because aside of being juvenile, it's getting a bit silly.  After testing Ganesha, Ashu heads off to school to deal with the bullies that have been teasing him and have just stolen his lunch.  Ganesha tells him to handle it himself:

This 2007 movie was popular enough that there was a second and third movie, and a theatrical adaptation. To me it seems to follow too closely the formula for youth apostolate Christian films from my own childhood. The idea? Do good things and god will help you, always.

In this case, god helps him who helps himself it seems, at least a more honest approach than the miracles seen in some of the Christian videos, but the model and parallels are so close that I have to wonder how much of these movies have more western thought as their primary influence rather than Hindu tradition.

I won't be adding My Friend Ganesha 2 to my Netflix cue.