What's Up Bolly Lily?

Here's an idea whose time has come. What's Up Tiger Lily started it all, Wayne's World used a similar device for chop socky and Mystery Science Theater milked bad sci fi for all it was worth. Now, as Sumana Harihareswara writes in Salon, "Uncle Morty's Dub Shack," a TV program on the ImaginAsian TV network, extends it to Bollywood:

The conceit of the show is that four loser friends -- Trevor, Alladin, Jimbo and John -- earn a little extra cash dubbing martial arts, action and Bollywood films into English at the Dub Shack, run by an old crank named Morty. Uncle Morty doesn't have the translated scripts, so the friends turn the movie scenes into sketch comedy. For those of us who didn't warm to MST3K, "Uncle Morty's" is easier to love, because it's only half an hour long (the films are significantly, and mercifully, edited down), and the writers create believable alternate narratives for the flicks instead of merely smirking at them.
For Bollywood, their main attraction seems to be re-writing the song sequences:
Is it easier to write funny commentary for Chinese kung fu/action movies or Bollywood musicals?

Trevor: I think they each have their advantages. The kung fu films tend to have these great, expressive, comic-relief characters that are just so easy to write jokes and come up with voices for. And the Bollywood films have all of those musical numbers that you can write songs for.

Jimbo: I love writing new songs for the Bollywood musicals. It's great to watch with the sound off and think, "What are they just not singing about?" and then have them sing about it.

Apparently, the guys don't try to do bad Indian accents. Jimbo says:

For instance, we never use outrageous Asian accents on our characters. That would just be lame, predictable and insulting. We do, however, use outrageous French accents and such, because it's just absurd and silly. The French have a right to be offended at our show! We consciously don't use stereotypes as humor, because to us it's just not funny. Our viewpoint is, "Hey! Let's have some fun with these old B films!"

Are you listening, Apu?

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- October 12, 2005 11:36 PM // Bollywood