Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is the world getting Bollywoodized?

It's not hidden from anyone that I don't always agree with the stereotypical essence of our Indian culture. What can I say; I was born to be a rebel.:-) Jokes aside, more than enough aspects of the Indian culture make me darn proud. This post is an ode to one of those “things” about my culture that I revere and would not trade for anything in this world—Bollywood.

The journey of Indianization: I remember the time when my husband and I were new immigrants in NYC, striving to assimilate; we were enamored by one tale—On August 15th, The Empire State building’s lights reflect the color of the Indian flag. Our hearts were swollen with pride, but somewhere I felt that it wasn't a part of mass acceptance; it was more a politically appropriate gesture.

Incident#2: Few summers ago, Gap Inc. launched the “kurtis”. They didn’t call them exactly that but you could see New York women clad in the vibrant Indian shirt. The cynic in me thought, “Nice going but how many people know it's an Indian thing?”

Yet another one: Though I feel immensely proud and happy when my non-American friends rave about chicken tikka, mango lassi, samosa, lamb vindaloo etc.; sadly, I feel, the surging popularity of Indian fare is limited to the larger cities in the US. Also, growing up in India, talking about pizza or Mc Donald’s was considered a cool thing--like you had that western streak in you. Somewhere, I solemnly wonder if Americans (not all) are into ethnic foods to exhibit how au fait they are with other cultures. Isn’t “acceptance” the in words these days?

Bollywood epiphany: When I was studying at Columbia, before one of our major group presentations in front of representatives from this huge corporation, bunch of my friends & I began to fret. In the US, people say if you are jumpy about speaking in public, picture your audience naked. To me, that was the most asinine, bizarre saying ever. Good lord!

The remedy: While reviewing our presentation, I taught my friends the choreographed steps from one of Madhuri Dixit’s biggest hits –“choli ke peeche”. Three of us dancing to “what's underneath my blouse,” was hilarious but reassuring too. We rocked our presentation and managed to keep our dinner down—you see, we didn’t need to picture our audience naked; Bollywood colored our lives. Since that incident took place, I wondered why we don't see more Indianness in day-to-day American life.

The “aha” moment: People who know me well know that I am a sucker for the arts--music, poetry, dance etc. Just any form of art. I believe, “art is life.” If it paid my bills, I would pursue it full time. My personal saga aside, the other day, my hubby & I were watching So You Think You Can Dance.” It’s an interesting dance competition Show on FOX. Okay, so one of the couple’s danced to a song from “Om Shanti Om” (A Bollywood movie) clad in the most apt Indian outfit. These performers were stupendous.

Aside from the couple’s ability to reproduce the Indian graciousness via the dance movements, what astounded me was:

a) Bollywood was a criterion on this national Show being viewed by the American masses.
b) The spectators and the judges swooned fervently to the desi music, attire, and dance routine. The couple received standing ovation from the audience.

When I saw America (irrespective of class or color) gyrate to and open-heartedly welcome a Bollywood performance, I felt that we, as Indians, had finally arrived.

More until next time.
Xoxo

Copyright © 07.17.2008

“Dancers are the athletes of God.” ~Albert Einstein

7 comments:

Pradeep said...

I don't know if the world is getting Bollywoodized, but my wife and I indeed seem to be fascinated by Bollywood, as of late! We watched very little Bollywood while we were raising our kids because we didn't want them to get hooked on it, but now that they are grown up and have moved out of the house, we watch it with a vengeance (almost three movies a week, which our kids now make fun of)!:)
My wife and I have personalities that are poles apart, so we are glad we found something in common, now that the kids are grown up and moved out of the house (While we were raising kids, at least we had something in common and agreed most of the time on how to raise them), although we still differ on the reasons for liking Bollywood. While my wife prefers only newer movies (to learn about the latest fashion), I like all the Hindi movies, old and new, especially, the ones with songs and dances, because occasionally, I like to do things that are mindless and what can be more mindless than watching Bollywood?:)

Vizzy said...

Good one. I some how missed the Bollywood episode of "so you think you can dance". I will look for it..

Anonymous said...

Bollywood Rocks!!

Where else can we find people like:
MacMohan kidnapping every other mom in the world.
Pran doing the rope scene from Don.
Suresh Oberoi in Laavaris.
Shriram Lagoo and his face painted black in some movie as a backward caste

Sweta, you should know by now who wrote this :)

AM said...

good one babes... very nicely articulated! and this from someone who's bollywood-agnostic :-)

Anonymous said...

Bollywood Rocks!!

Where else can we find people like:
MacMohan kidnapping every other mom in the world.
Pran doing the rope scene from Don.
Suresh Oberoi in Laavaris.
Shriram Lagoo and his face painted black in some movie as a backward caste

You should know by now who wrote this :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it would have made you feel even more proud when yesterday's episode of 'So You Think You Can Dance' started off with a Bollywood number (Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom) being performed as a group item by the entire troupe.

Well.. Bollywood is here to stay! The whole of the US of A will soon be swaying to the melodius numbers that only Bollywood can produce! (I am waiting for a movie from the Indian shores to actually win an Oscar.. That day is not far away...)

Bollywood Rocks!! Long Live Bollywood!!!

Sahar said...

I see Indianness/bollywoodizing in a lot of aspects esp. in the younger generation in US. Among all the the things u have listed...the newest is crinkled-dupattas as scarves!!! ;) Loved ur topic!