The Happy Circumstances
of Filmi Addiction
about as American as they come. Born and raised in North Carolina,
with both sides of the family on this side of the pond for so
many generations nobody remembers otherwise. Rumour has it that
one of my ancestors was a U.S President, another a pirate (yes,
there's a difference) and who knows what other nuts would fall
from the family tree if you shook it hard enough. I had gone
46 years and change and never seen a Hindi film -- or even given
them any thought.
what happy circumstance made me a Bollywood addict?
started quite innocently, as these things usually do. I was
digging through the bargain DVD bin of a local discount store
and happened upon Ram Gopal Varma's "Naina". The cover
was in English, the story sounded interesting and the price
was certainly attractive ($5.50 US) so I added it to my shopping
cart STILL not knowing that this was an Indian film and never
suspecting the profound effect it would have on my video shopping
you can probably imagine, I was pretty confused once I'd loaded
the disc and started watching. I knew none of these actors and
... thank GOD for subtitles! But after the opening scene, I
was intrigued. What happened next I can't explain.
film flashes forward twenty years and before me was the most
beautiful woman I have ever seen -- Urmila Matondkar. Mind you,
I do not say "the most beautiful woman I have ever seen"
lightly. And it didn't escape me that she was a sighted person
playing the role of a blind person and doing so with complete
believability. I could not tear my eyes away from her, I was
the movie was done, I Googled her to find out just who this
divine being is. After reading a few interviews and articles,
my next stop was to Amazon.com. A search on her name turned
up several DVD's which went straightaway on my wish list. "Pinjar"
seemed like a good choice as a followup, and "Tezheeb"
was modestly priced and soon both were on their way to me courtesy
of the US Postal Service.
was everything I'd imagined it would be and even taught me a
few things about the partition of India and Pakistan. "Tezheeb"
was not quite as good, but by that time it didn't matter. I
and "Satya" followed, quickly chased to my door by
"Hindustani", "Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya", "Mast",
"Rangeela", "Jungle" and "Judaai".
I couldn't get enough. (My copy "Jungle" wasn't subtitled,
curse the luck!) Amazon.com was nearly tapped out, so I started
looking for other outlets. One of the vendors that sells through
Amazon Marketplace also has its own online store, but I hit
the motherlode when I discovered the website for Eros Entertainment.
Not only did they have a bigger selection, but far better prices!
in the space of a mere 4 months, I've gone from barely realizing
that India has a film industry to becoming a fledgling Bollywood
freak. Or more specifically, to an Urmila freak. No doubt I
will branch out in the future, but for the time being there
is still enough in Urmilaji's flimography to keep me occupied
for some time. How cruel that fate placed us on opposite sides
of the world. Who would have thought that one person could move
Mumbai ahead of Iceland at the top of my list of places I want
to visit before I die?
again, who would have thought a creature so beautiful could
exist on the mortal plane? I certainly never did.