Bollywood Shell Shock

So, this is a website for those of us clueless non-desis who discover The Joy That Is Indian Cinema and don’t know what to do about it. What do I see next? What does that mean? Where do I get the movies? And who can I talk to about my growing obsession, without their putting me in a little white coat in a padded room? White, I never wear white… I feel more partial to reds and oranges now. Too much Rajasthani in my color pallet these days, I’d guess.

I got hit by the BollyWave back in 2003. I am a costumer by trade, and have always collected costume films. I picked up a copy of Lagaan and what followed, completely engulfed me. Now, after about eight years, I’ve seen over 350 different films, some multiple times (to encourage others to come on board, of course…I don’t sit in my room at night watching Dil Se… over and over again…not often…) and I have completely given over my car stereo to the works of AR Rahman, Vishal Bhardwaj, Sukhwinder Singh and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, with some Mohammed Rafi and Shubha Mudgal to vary things a bit. And every other weekend or so, my new local Bollywood buddies (Kathy and Pat, primarily…last names omitted until they choose to reveal themselves) and I try to find a movie or some other Indian cultural event to further our mania.

Now that local converts aren’t enough, I’ve begun to work my wiles on old friends from college, online. No, you’re not safe from Bollywood, even in the American Heartland. Not when you catch the bug. That’s where Julie comes in. We’re planning to revisit our first emails about these films, almost exactly in the way they evolved, conversationally as a dialogue. Hopefully, you’ll see and hear some of the things that you’re looking into yourselves, or perhaps will, now that we’ve suggested it.

I’ll let Julie tell her own story, but I will say, that I am so glad that we’ve found this common, no “interest” isn’t enough, common fixation to get back in regular touch with one another. It had been too long, and I’d missed her wit and sense of humor. I think you’ll like it, too.

Oye, Chak De Phatte!

* There will be a glossary in the categories pages, if I can find a way to do it.  This one is Punjabi for, “let’s bring down the house, get this party started.”

Glossary Post for Those Fab New Phrases

This post is going to be added to more than any in the whole blog.  Hopefully you can access it by the dropdown categories menu.  We’ll try to keep ‘em current (and alphabetical) so we can limit the “WHAT?” aspect of our newer readers.

bakwas or bakvas — nonsense, rubbish.

beta or beti — son or daughter, respectively.

bhaisaab — Term of address for an elder brother.  Bhai, itself being brother, the saab being used almost like “sir”.

bhang — A narcotic drink made of a mixture of milk, almonds, spices, sugar and marijuana.  Proliferates more during certain holiday seasons.

bhangra — A very rhythmic music and a lively style of dancing, heavy on the drums. Example from Bride and Prejudice, here.

chak de phatte (Punjabi) — Used to be a war cry, now heard mostly shouted at the top of their lungs by Sikh guys at the wonderful, wonderful bhangra dances.  It means, literally, “take up the floorboards” but is used more as “let’s bring down the house” or “let’s get the party started”.  Best back up and put in bhangra, now.

chee — Hindi expression of disgust.

deewana — crazy or mad, usually used non-seriously in films. Similar to pagal, but with the sense that the person is crazy because of  love.

desi — Of the homeland, native to India.  So, non-desi is anyone else, aka, us.

dharm/dharma — religion or duty

dhoti — a men’s lower garment made of one seven yard piece of fabric, draped and pleated at the waist and between the legs into a very loose trouser shape.

dishoom — (us. plural) the sound made when a hero’s fist connects with his target or the sound of a bullet firing.  Can be sometimes used for a specific cool, tough attitude.  Amitabh, in Deewaar, has dishoom.

EFD — short for Emotional Family Drama, a genre of Indian film.

Eve-teasers — sort of self-explanatory, but a generic term for boys who whistle at or verbally harass usually helpless girls.  The teasing has a sexual tone, and it may get physical, but that may have it’s own term, and hopefully, I will never know it.

falooda — a cold, sweet beverage popular in South Asia.  Usually made with rose syrup and vermicelli and/or tapioca pearls.

filmi — Sort of self evident, but used mostly as an adjective, for a rather cinematic, overly dramatic attitude, as seen in the most play-acty of the films.

goonda/gunda — hired thug, usually underworld.

gora — white male.

gori — White female.  That be we, whether we like it or not. :-)

hulchul — noise and commotion without much sense.

inquilab zindabad — Hindi, from the Persian, for “Long Live Revolution!”

item number — a song within the film, usually in a nightclub, and often not put in to advance the plot, only to advance the “item girl’s” career.  Sometimes done as a “special appearance” cameo by a known star.  Example SRK in the beginning of Kaal, was the “item boy”, in silver pants, no less.

jadoo — magic

jadugar — magician

jodi — pair or partner, as in a romantic couple.

kahani — story, and so, prem kahani — love story.

ladki — girl, and ladka is boy.  Pronounced more to my ear like “ler-khi”.

lassi — sweet, yogurt based drink.

mela — fair or carnival.

nach — dance, in Hindi.

nafrat — hate

nahi! Nahi!! NAHI!!! — never! Never!! NEVER!!!  or no! No!! NO!!!  In Indian films, everything worth emoting over is best said thrice.  Preferably, with audible thunderclaps.

nautch girl — female performer in a men-only atmosphere, like a nightclub or in days gone by in a brothel or a private manor home.

NRI — Non Resident Indian.  People born in the homeland, but living abroad, and their offspring.

pagal — crazy or mad, usually in a casual, not serious way. Similar to deewana.

paisa vasool — worth the money spent on it.

prem — love (in Hindi), often the hero’s name in a romantic film.

Priyadawanism — personal slang for very very slapsticky, a la the work of directors Priyadarshan and David Dawan.

puja — a worship ceremony.

qawwali — usually an Islamic religious song, or one adapted from this tradition.

rhona-dhona — anguish, tears, gnashing of teeth.  An angsty hulla-balloo.  Can be used like the word melodrama, or fuss.

rudaali — professional mourner

sangeet — the musical evening held a day or so before the actual wedding celebration.

shaadi — a wedding and it’s surrounding celebrations.

tanhayee or tanhaai — loneliness

yaar — colloquial for friend, often used like pal or mate at the end of a phrase.

zamindar — wealthy landowner

That’s all we’ve used for now.  I’m sure we’ll be back very soon.

Best of luck!

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