TALKING FILMS

The first ‘Julie’ that inspired several imitators in the Hindi erotic film genre

Starring Neha Dhupia as the eponymous heroine, ‘Julie’ was the story of a wronged woman choosing to become a prostitute.

Between 2003 and 2004, three Hindi erotic thrillers paved the way for several generic imitations down the years, such as the Hate Story series. These films were Amit Saxena’s Jism (2003), Anurag Basu’s Murder (2004) and Deepak Shivdasani’s Julie (2004). While Jism’s success opened the floodgates for sex-fuelled tales of deceit, betrayal and blood, Murder and Julie strengthened the commercial viability of the genre.

Julie, in particular, was directly influential on the Hate Story series. It was Julie that popularised the idea of a woman using sex to battle the world after getting betrayed by men. Starring Neha Dhupia as the eponymous character, Julie was hyped prior to its release for its “bold” scenes, a “topless” Dhupia and assorted gimmicks. Dhupia’s “Only sex or Shah Rukh Khan sells” statement made during Julie’s promotional tour propelled the film to the spotlight. In hindsight, Julie was one of the better erotic Hindi films of the 2000s when put alongside similar efforts of the time that had minimal filmmaking merit, including Hawas (2004), Ab… Bas! (2004) and Girlfriend (2004). (The movie is not to be confused with the 1975 release, starring Lakshmi).

Shivdasani has made a sequel, Julie 2, which stars Raaj Laxmi in the lead role and in the words of its co-producer Pahlaj Nihalani, is a “complete adult family film” about young talents being forced to compromise in the movie industry. Julie 2’s central theme of a woman having to sleep with men after her dreams get destroyed is borrowed from its 2004 predecessor. The film will be released on October 6.

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Julie 2.

The 2004 film begins with Julie (Dhupia) sleeping on a white bed, wearing a white dress, draped in white sheets, in a room with white walls, as a song that plays over the opening credits go “Phoolon si ek nazuk kali, thodi si chanchal manchali.” A lengthy flashback sequence reveals how her whiteness got tainted over time.

Julie, intent on marrying her Goan boyfriend Neil (Yash Tonk), is left high and dry when the money-minded Neil scores a business opportunity with a local honcho and seals the deal by marrying his daughter. A heartbroken Julie moves to Mumbai, where she lands a job as a design consultant for a real estate agency, with no qualifications except that her boss likes her taste in wall colours.

Julie gets close to a senior colleague Rohan (Sanjay Kapoor), and in no time, they are in bed. Whenever a man propositions her for an intimate moment, Julie’s weapon of choice is to run away in glee before submitting eventually. Rohan and Julie are almost set to get married when Julie is hurt once again. This time, Rohan tries to use Julie as sexual bait to land a lucrative contract.

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Julie (2004).

The twice-bitten Julie runs to the streets, gets down on her knees, and cries in the rain. She is rescued by a parlour owner-cum-pimp Rosie (Kamini Khanna). Rosie consoles Julie and offers her pearls of wisdom to survive in Mumbai: “The world is not round. It’s a merry-go-round” and “Khudkhushi ko khud-khushi mein badal do.” Julie joins the dots and decides to become a prostitute.

All is fine with her new job till a chance encounter leads to Julie meeting a young millionaire Mihir (Priyanshu Chatterjee), who has businesses worth Rs 1,000 crores at the age of 27 and is the most eligible bachelor in the country. Julie and Mihir fall in love and get engaged, but Julie is yet to tell Mihir the true nature of her profession. Triggered by a televised interview of Mihir declaring that he has a special someone in his life, she barges into a news channel’s office and demands to be interviewed. “Main ek peshewar dhandewali hoon,” she thunders.

Finally, Julie bares it all on television for her friends, family, clients, associates and the rest of the world to see. Mihir enters the show uninvited and an emotional monologue later, announces his love for Julie.

The trailer of Julie 2 follows the new Julie (Raai Laxmi) entering into sexual liaisons to further her career in the film industry. (A character advises her, “Yaha pe sirf body chalta hai, garma garam body.”) Unlike the first part, the story swerves into murder-mystery territory with a tough cop played by CID regular Aditya Srivastava trying to make sense of the complete adult family proceedings.

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.