Bollywood Shell Shock, Part II (Julie’s Story)

Here’s my intro post.

I alternately bless and rue the day that Jenny and I found each other again on Facebook and I learned this weird new fact about her, that she was a Bollyfan.  I mean, we were BFFs for 4 years 30 years ago and I thought I knew her, but who could have predicted it?

But I had my own fascination with India, which started in grad school where I was studying art history and learned a bit about Indian art and culture, enough to know that it was both strange (not weird, just new to me) and beautiful.  Then I fell in love with movies about Indian people by NRIs and others (Bend it Like Beckham, Monsoon Wedding, Outsourced, Slumdog Millionaire, The Namesake among them), loving the song and color and drama.  Which turned to a love of books by modern Indian authors, Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri, etc.  (yes, even the chick-lit, I will admit)  Which naturally led to a predisposition towards The Evil One’s influence earlier this year (2011), first with filmi music, then the actual films.  And it led to purchasing music on iTunes.  And listening to the “Contemporary Bollywood” channel on Pandora.  And considering naming my new kittens Didi and Bhaiyya. (don’t worry, I didn’t)

It’s all Jenny’s fault. And I cheer her for it every day, because who else would I talk to about it?  So I guess I get to play the role of Totally Clueless Newbie to her Wise Guide, and you get to come along too.

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.”

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