or, The Peculiar Case of Destiny and the Forbidden Dancw
you ever heard the saying: "Let something go, and if it
loves you, it will return?" That's kind of how I view my
initiations into Bollywood.
I was around eleven-years-old, I used to LOVE to channel surf,
and foreign shows especially caught my attention (they still
do). In Chicago, around 1992, there was a cable channel (53)
that showed foreign shows from Korea to China to India. For
two hours, beginning at eight pm every night, channel 53 would
show Indian soap operas, shows, and music. I'd watch these shows
occasionally when I was bored and felt like seeing something
foreign. Back then, nothing particularly interested me, but
for some unknown reason I watched almost everything on channel
53 that summer.
a year later, the film FORBIDDEN DANCE came out, and I was obsessed
with it. I'd watch it on cable almost weekly, even tapped it.
The theme song - in Portuguese - was all the rage, and I was
in love with this song. One day, while flipping through the
channels, I stopped on channel 53 and heard the familiar beat
of this song. I quickly loaded up a tape in my VCR and recorded
the last few minutes of the video that was playing this song.
"Wow," I thought, "even India loves this song."
That was the last time for ten years that I'd see or even think
2001, I was once again channel surfing, when I happened upon
an Indian soap opera on the International Channel. It was like
a rush of nostalgia for my days in the Edgewater neighborhood,
watching channel 53 and feeling so sophisticated. I ended up
going online that night and typing in Bollywood in a search
engine. (Read: How I came to know that the Indian film industry
is called Bollywood is a mystery to me. I just typed that in,
like I knew all along. Perhaps the name stuck in my brain back
then, and I'd only remembered when I saw an Indian show. Who
knows? But it's really weird, almost fateful.)
first name I learned was Karisma Kapoor. I started reading her
biography, then found myself immersed in another world. I loved
it. Within days, I was once again searching for something Indian
on my television. To my luck, the International Channel was
airing music clips, and "Bole Chudiyaan" came on.
I swooned - the colors, the dances, the glittery jewelry, the
gorgeous actresses. Bollywood had returned to me.
weeks I watched the Bollywood shows on the International Channel
and a local channel, looking for that song again. It came on
again, and this time I had the title of the movie. I went online,
typed in the name of the movie, and it landed me at BollyWHAT.com.
Thus, my bollyification began.
years later, I now can speak Bolly, know almost every actor,
know about caste, colorism, rivalries, states of India, and
I have also amassed tons of music. (Read: In the beginning of
my BW experience, I thought all the female singers were screeching,
and I couldn't discern one voice from another, but now it's
a piece of cake.) And I've also learned that the movie where
the FORBIDDEN DANCE theme was duplicated was a Sunny Deol film
are still things I want to learn. I want to watch more films,
and I plan to use the BollyWHAT forum more often, because I
know that there is a wealth of information there just waiting
for me. Bollywood has made me love all things India. Just mention
India and I go ga-ga. I want to visit India, eat India, dream
India. And the best way I can do that is by watching films and
listening to India's beautiful music. Bollywood has returned
to me, and I plan to never let it go.
badan American hai, lekin mera dil Indian hai! (My body is American,
but my heart is Indian!)