Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Tribute to Unexpected Joy

Yesterday, I watched a film called "Popo Gigi: A Tribute." The most fitting description that comes to mind is unexpected joy.

The process leading to my seeing this film was very unexpected. I didn't expect to see my friend on that day but he popped up at the bookshop I was browsing in. He told me he was going to a screening at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) to watch a film he recently had a small part in. While he would have loved to invite me to the film it was for cast members only. I said I would hang out with him until the film started. It turned out the director had spare tickets so I was able to watch the film with my friend.

According to the film's flyer:

"A 'Bollywood' legend comes to London to tread the boards in Shakespeare, but first he must find a leading lady equal to his charm and sexual dynamism. He brings with him his (not so) faithful sidekick Ramyou Balti and his spiritual advisor the Honourable Guru Baboo to help him in the task of selecting his Juliette and recruits his Harley Street IVF specialist, Doc Schmuck, to marshal the hordes of actresses who apply for the audition. However, Popo Gigi's eloquence and magnetism is such that as soon as he delivers the first line of Shakespeare, the actresses melt into paroxysms of sexual ecstasy and forget to act, instead divesting themselves of their clothes...." Popo Gigi: A Tribute
Here's something else that was completely unexpected, though in my reality it's to be expected. Before I watched the film, I read an Internet friend's experience about being admitted into hospital and how he viewed it as an opportunity to heal and uplift other patients. I shared a story with my friend about when I was admitted in hospital three years ago, and how a patient beside me had uplifted me with stories about his life. The patient had also read me part of Shakespeare's Sonnet:

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate..." (see the story called Not All Suffering Is)
Well, guess what? The first line of Shakespeare that Popo Gigi reads to entice his actresses is the same sonnet the patient in the hospital had read to me. It would seem I was meant to see this film after all.

For me, Popo Gigi (Sam Sterling) was the spitting image of the Indian spiritual guru, Sai Baba, who also happens to be my mother's doctor's spiritual guru. Sai Baba has millions of followers across the world. I also noticed a picture of Sai Baba in the film.

Back to the film, while Sai Baba uses love to melt his followers hearts, Popo Gigi's bardic eloquence melts the actresses "into paroxysm of sexual ecstasy." In the meantime, Popo's antics tests his loyal sidekick, Ramyou Balti, to the limits leading to the ultimate showdown in the Sergio Leone tradition, Yoga mats at sundown. What a hoot! Not only does Popo Gigi win the battle of Yogis, he also wins my heart. Cue stripping writer!

My friend, David Nicholson, played Itchy Bitchy, the best looking transvestite I've ever seen on camera, at least in the wild west. He's a real treasure!

The making of the film/documentary was just as entertaining and full of spontaneous moments like how Sam Sterling and Paul Wiffen the writers and producers met. Sam said he was at a party half-drunk and met Paul, who was just as sloshed. Sam shared his idea for a short film which he said he wanted shown at the Cannes Film Festival; and they took it from there. The director, Paul, met the makeup artist on a plane trip where he found himself next to her. They got into a conversation, realised they worked in the same industry, and swapped details. When this film came up, he asked her to join the project....and so the wonder continued.

You could say I had a day that was spontaneous, unexpected, and filled with joy. In other words, I had a "Popo Gigi" day. I am so grateful to my friend and all the cast members of "Popo Gigi - A Tribute" for making my evening so magical.