Bollywood, I’ve been unfaithful. Please allow me to explain. Maybe it’s because it’s spring, and sometimes that’s the season when hearts wander, but I’ve been back to my old self, sampling the world and enjoying it. Yet still I keep getting reminded of you and all the great times we’ve had. I’ve cheated on you with China, (my ex), Egypt, Ethopia, and Kerala. I’ve cheated with films, documentaries, food and even books. Here’s how it happened:
I saw a Chinese movie a few weeks back called Luxury Car (2006). It was bleak, depressing and very good, but it brought me back to Bollywood. How you ask? Well it was directed by Wang Chao, who studied under director Chen Kaige, who made some movies starring the lovely Gong Li. Gong Li was the first actress I saw that moved me to want to see all her films. It was only after running out of movies with Gong Li, did I think maybe I’d like to see another movie with “that guy from Devdas,” who I later found out was Shahrukh Khan.
Then I was listening to NPR and heard a mini documentary on Umm Kulthum. Now hipped to Umm Kulthum, I promptly went to the library to get “Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt.” It’s an excellent documentary on a fascinating life. While watching Umm-ji’s life story, I thought of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.
‘All Arabs agree,’ reads The Rough Guide to World Music. ‘Umm Kulthum is indisputably the Arab world’s greatest singer.’ The name Umm Kulthum may not strike a chord to Western ears, but she was a larger-than-life presence in the Arab world. The Egyptian singer’s career was long, its heyday extending from the 1930s to the 1960s, and her music became a powerful symbol of Arab nationalism. When she died in 1975 at the age of 70, 4 million people poured into the streets of Cairo to mourn her passing. Today, her music is everywhere. Even at truck stops, CD kiosks are brimming with Umm Kulthum’s many recordings. In the 1950s and ’60s, her fame grew, thanks to her legendary live radio broadcasts. On Thursday nights, the streets of Cairo would empty as people gathered around radio sets to hear the great singer. You can still hear a lot of Umm Kulthum on Egyptian radio today. In honor of her famous broadcasts, her music is played at 10 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. (NPR)
Can you watch and hear this and not want more? I couldn’t.
Is even Umm telling me in this song to get back to Bollywood?
First I cheated with films, documentaries, China, Egpyt. Then I cheated with food, Ethiopian food!
When eating out, instead of dining at one of my favorite Indian restaurants, Best of India, I strayed over to Fasika and dined on Ethiopian food, which I hadn’t had for years. My mind was seduced by the wall mural of Victoria Falls and other images throughout the restaurant of Lalibela, Axum, and Addis Ababa. My interest was peaked, but how could I even think of traveling to Ethiopia before I see my mother India? That food was really great!
I also cheated with books. When I’m not watching movies, I enjoy reading and I’d heard the “The God of Small Things” was an excellent book. It’s set in a village in Kerala, India, so I was slowly getting back to Bollywood, more or less. I know the author, Arundhati Roy, wrote “In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones” which was one of Shahrukh Khan’s first gigs. Bollywood calling me again. Then within the book, Roy makes reference to a tragic love triangle (sound familiar, Bollywood?) in a Malayalam film Chemmeen(1965). It’s not Bollywood, but it’s the Malayalam film industry, so I’m getting closer to coming back Bollywood.
Bollywood was so majestic, waiting gracefully as I looked around enjoying all the world has to offer, all the while being reminded of him. Really, I never left, you were always in my heart, I mean in my dil.
Forgive me Bollywood, for I have sinned!
I confess to almighty God, (Bollywood) and to you, my brothers and sisters,that I have sinned through my own fault,in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.