Meet Joe Black … An Indian Story
Having made the decision with my mind, I am stating it with my speech, and shall accomplish it with my actions later. My mind is my authority – Savitri, in Mahabharata.
I finished seeing the re-run of movie, “Meet Joe Black” – and it is the second time I am seeing this movie. I am stuck with the ‘Indian-ness’ of this movie. Intrigued, I decided to Google for more.
What Do I Find
I discover it is a remake of an old movie – the Wikipedia informs me that it is a 1998 remake of the 1934 film, Death Takes A Holiday. It was remade in 1971 under the 1934 original title. The film stars Brad Pitt (a Joe Black), Anthony Hopkins (as Bill Parish) and Claire Forlani.
Interestingly (not surprisingly), Wikipedia tells me this film did well overseas and not in the USA.
This Story Is A Lift …
This film could have been titled Savitri and Satyavan in New York. How so?
Savitri meets Satyavan (Brad Pitt as Joe Black) in a coffee shop – and it is love at first sight. After the meeting a ‘lost’ Satyavan meets with an accident and dies – of which Savitri knows nothing.
Savitri (Claire Forlani) is the perfect daughter of Bill Parish (Anthony Hopkins, as a rich business tycoon) – instead of the royal father-in-law. Yamaraj (Brad Pitt) takes the form of Satyavan (Brad Pitt again) and comes visiting Earth, to take away Bill Parish, whose time has come.
But Yamaraj, offers Bill Parish a deal, whereby Bill Parish will get some ‘extra time’ in return for giving Yamaraj, a guided tour of life on earth.
While the guided tour is on, Bill Parish loses his kingdom – just like the original Indian story. Yamaraj is maha-impressed by Savitri – like the original Mahabharat story. Yamaraj restores life to Satyavan – just like the original story. Yamaraj also helps the father (instead of the father-in-law) to get back his kingdom.
Bill Parish is the father instead of the father in law. It is set in New York – instead of India. The West may find it maudlin or cloying – since, women (Eve) are the root of all evil.
From an Indian perspective, it was well done. The focus was more on Bill Parish and Joe Black – than on Savitri, which figures.
Rather like the Bappi Lahiri vs Dr.Dre case, I thought.
PS – The story of Savitri is known in Western arts. Gustav Holst (1874-1934), a British musician born in Cheltenham, Britain, composed his Savitri Op. 25 in 1908, for chamber orchestra.
Considered “revolutionary because there are only three characters and the accompanying orchestra consists of no more than 12 musicians. Savitri was the first English chamber opera since the end of the seventeenth century.”
- In Defense Of…Meet Joe Black (chicagonow.com)
- Don’t Forget: He Acts, Too (nytimes.com)
- Brad Pitt news: Brad Pitt gets a fit of the giggles filming Moneyball with Jonah Hill (thesun.co.uk)