Hurray For Bollywood!

I originally posted this piece on MissMakeAMovie.com, but since the site has been put to sleep, I thank them for a wonderful run together, look forward to some new great times together at our new address PopCultureDivas.com and post this again on The Ajnabee, for me to have and to hold. It’s the story of a personal journey into a land of no return, a place where once you visit, you never want to leave it… I hope it will cause in you a yearning to head out to the closest cinema in your area which shows Indian movies and all the beauty they have to offer. N-joy!
My love of Indian cinema started very simply in 2002. Right after September 11th, I felt the need to leave NYC and the empty spot of skyline across from my window, where the Twin Towers had once stood. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I knew I would not return to my home city until I had found it.

We got a little apartment in London and from there, traveled nonstop with my mom – the ultimate globe-trotting gypsy. Our adventures took us to India, where we had already been on holiday before. India is the kind of place where one’s soul is consoled. How? The country, the people, the food all overwhelm the senses and manage to fill your thoughts with colorfully fragrant dreams. That, and the fact that my very best friend in the world lived in Jaipur, made India the perfect place for mending our broken spirits.

While visiting gentle Ravi in Jaipur – a turban-wearing slim Sikh boy I consider my “soul brother” – all he seemed to be able to talk about was a recent film titled “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” – literally translated as “Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Sad”. He played the songs incessantly, quoted the lines and translated them for me at every breakfast, lunch and dinner and insisted that I watch the movie.

After the three and 1/2 hours extravaganza on the big screen, I was HOOKED! The costumes, the songs, the dances, the unbelievably handsome actors and perfectly beautiful leading ladies, the sentimental message, the family values… Everything was exactly what my weary soul needed to start believing in the greatness of the world again.

I eventually made it back to NYC and six years later, Bollywood is more than a significant part of my life. It is responsible for my fortune as a writer and the reason I love India as much as I do. It defines my fashion taste, as well as my music choices and if you know me, well… you need to know Hindi films. So, if I have your curiosity tickled, let me get you started on your own multi-colored journey into the land of Indian Cinema.

Besides “K3G” – as the film that started it all for me is popularly known – there are a few other films that I would tackle as a Bollywood first-timer. The list must include “Fanaa” – from a Sufi word meaning “Destroyed in Love” – which stars one of the most intelligent actors in the Hindi film industry, Aamir Khan. With his nearly European good looks and subtle moves, he plays an ambiguous role that will leave you breathless at the end. Then, there is my own favorite director – Sanjay Leela Bhansali – who makes films that are lavish and visually stunning. He’s been criticized that they can be a bit lacking in substance, but if I want substance, I can watch something French. When I want true blue entertainment, on the other hand…

Speaking of other foreign films, “Saawariya” - meaning Beloved – Bhansali’s latest film, distributed by Sony Pictures – was inspired by Dostoyevsky’s short story “White Nights”, which was also made into a film by Italian director Luchino Visconti. Before you go thinking that I will just throw names at you and bore you to death, lets get back to Hindi films. A few more suggestions. For beautiful depth of story, check out Anurag Kashyap and his latest “Dev.D”, or go back to his classics with “No Smoking” and “Black Friday”. For lavish song-and-dance numbers, see choreographer-turned-director Farah Khan’s movies, which include “Mein Hoon Na” – I’ll Be There – and “Om Shanti Om”. Her husband Shirish Kunder also wrote, directed and edited a wonderful and fantastical film titled “Jaan-E-Mann” – Love of my Heart. And finally, for strong women roles, watch any film by master director Sudhir Mishra, a great man as well as an amazing filmmaker. My two favorites by Mishra are “Khoya Khoya Chand” – Lost Moon – and “Chameli” – Jasmine.

So why not make it a whole evening of fun and rent one of these films, all available on Netflix. Then, may I suggest ordering some Indian food like Chicken Tikka Masala and Samosas, making some Chai Martinis and inviting all your coolest friends over, for a Bollywood Night…

Images courtesy of Wikipedia, Dharma Productions and Yash Raj Films

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5 Responses to “Hurray For Bollywood!”

  1. Fashion » Blog Archive » Hurray For Bollywood!:

    [...] The Ajnabee placed an observative post today on Hurray For Bollywood!Here’s a quick excerptIt defines my fashion taste, as well as my music choices and if you know me, well… you need to know Hindi films…. [...]

  2. Ebrahim Kabir:

    Bollywood is kool, but Indian Cinema exist beyond Bollywood too

  3. Nina:

    Of course Ebrahim, and my blog deals with different forms of everything, including other expressions of Indian cinema. This was just a window into a very personal experience. No one is doubting that there is other cinema in India, especially NOT me!

  4. axw11:

    nicely written…sometimes you need the escapism to again find the greatness in the world….nice colors on your website….

  5. Vishal:

    I always wondered about how you stumbled across Bollywood movies (and songs)… what was the genesis of your passion about Bollywood. Am not surprised to see that it was K3G – the escapist, melodramatic, all-turns-out-well-in-the-end nature of Bollywood at its best!

    Never heard of Chai Martini before – gotta check it out now.

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