Hi, this is Smeeta Smitten, Shobiz kitten...sorry. I just couldn't leave everyone with the impression that yesterday's grim video is what Bollywood is all about.
I grew up watching Bollywood films; my father owned at least 250 and could have started a video shop of his own on the side. My weekend memories are of sitting in front of the India of the 40s and 50s, with Dilip Kumar and Madhubala onscreen, and songs sung by Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar or Asha Bhosle (see Brett video below).
Tragic, funny, happy, angry, religious - but always big: in scope, in feeling, in dance numbers. That's what Bollywood is for me. Camp? Of course. It grew up during the time of big musicals, and it was trying to imitate the West. But it always had passion.
Since my parents gave modern Bollywood movies short shrift and scorned most current actors and playback singers, my post-1965 Bollywood awareness is sparse: "Khubsoorat" (Beautiful), "Silsila" (Conflict) and "Muqadar ka Sakandar" (Sakandar's fortune/fate). I spent a lot of my young adulthood turning my back on my subcontinental heritage, hating the arranged marriages, oppression of women, petty arguments between Muslim and Hindu. I wanted nothing to do with it - ever.
About 5 years ago, this film "Khabhi Khushi Khabhi Gham" (Sometimes joy, sometimes sadness) hit the bigtime, not just in India, but around the world. I walked past posters for it, rolling my eyes, thinking, "Oh for God's sake," in the tone I reserve for people who take 15 items in the checkout lane expressly marked for 5.
"White boy" (see "Racism on the cricket ground") was the first to talk it up to me. I knew and trusted him, but wasn't sure yet. He was praising it to the high heavens (still does), but... Finally, CJ and Ali invited me round to their college, sat me down and made me watch. All the elements were there: the unsuitable love match, the parents not giving in, the younger sibling searching, big dance numbers. I laughed, I cried, I complained about pastel coloured saris and the lack of a male equivalent to the trademark "wet sari" scene... and I loved it. This was *my* Bollywood, not my parents'. *MY* actors, actresses, playback singers, not theirs. On that night, I began to claim Bollywood - and my heritage - for my own.
And so, I give you a taste of the real Bollywood. Camp, with a big heart. I love the cheeky actress in red - Kajol - who dismisses the boys when they compare her beauty to the moon. The three main men are all hot, and, by Rama, can they dance (especially Hrithik, the *really* hot one)...and they're straight. Indian dress, Indian dancing, and not a bad Aussie hairdo in sight.