Monday, March 07, 2005

A Wonderful Night in Bollywood!

Last night was the most wonderful night I have had in months.

It was "bollywood night" at a danceclub/music venue that I used to frequent through highschool and college.

Let me explain the signifigance of this. Many people on-line love fairies, or vampires, or lord of the rings, or star trek, or magic, the gathering. These provide an alternate universe to act as an escape, and/or a context to help deal with our complicated and difficult world. I was reading SpiderSolitare's blog where she mentioned that she preferred to put her energy into the real world, because that is work enough (I am paraphrasing) This is how I have felt most of my life. I preferred reading non-fiction for that reason, thinking of fiction as only an escape. My opinions have changed on this, but that is not important in the context of this post.

I discovered that I, in fact, DO have a fantasy world I escape to. Bollywood! For those of you who have never seen a Bollywood film, you are missing out! The term "Bollywood" is the combination of "Bombay" & "Hollywood." In Mumbai they churn out TONS more movies than in the U.S. and movies are much more popular there than they are in the US. Like Hollywood, the mainstream films are very formulaic. Bollywood movies almost always have musical numbers in them. Even in a serious war drama the men will start a musical number about heroism and duty. Its awesome!

Some GREAT American & British films inspired by Bollywood: "Bride & Predjuduce" (in theaters right now- GO SEE IT!) & "The Guru"

Bollywood movies often have beautiful landscapes and georgeous, brightly colored costumes. Even the most western films have more colorful costumes and sets than you find in US films. It doesn't hurt, in my opinion, that many of the most beautiful people in the world are South Asian or of South Asian decent.

In the films the leading men are VERY romantic. They will go to extreme measures to proclaim their love, and get the woman to marry them. This is where I find my escapism. It's a dangerous choice in escapism, because by taking the films out of their cultural context (not to mention the context that they are MOVIES) the meaning is changed. For instance, traditionally marriages take place first, and then love develops, so the people wanting to get married right away is not in itself a sign of the intennsity of their love. I am no expert in South-Asian cultures, please give me a good piece of your mind if I am misrepresenting things.

Another reason why escaping to "Bollywood" is dangerous is the fact that Hobbits or Klingons do not exist, but Indians do. Any time you idealize a culture, especially through the lens of pop-culture you are putting yourself at risk. (not to mention its racist to stereotype, even if its a positive stereotype) This happens alot in other countries when looking at the US through Hollywood & TV (or it used to, before we made ourselves the outcastes of the world by electing Bush) American white people are also really suceptable to this. Since we lost our own cultural identity to the "melting pot" we often look to other countries and cultures to fill the holes caused by a vapid culture where our identity is formed by the purchases we make.

Anyway, going to that club was so wonderful in so many ways. I went to a club that meant so much to me, and my identity, as a young person. On the screens they showed musical numbers, many from Bollywood movies I have seen. I was with my roommate and her awesome boyfriend. That was awesome because sometimes we are not as nice to each other at home as we could be. But I am really seeing how much she means to me because she may go to school in Timbuktu. (not actually Timbuktu, but it might as well be!) To top this off, I got to dance. I am a great dancer but the social phobia makes it hard for me to go out sometimes, I just believe that the whole world is staring at and evaluating me. It was all around a great night.

One funny side note. Even though I am aware of my idealization I still am at risk of falling into that trap. There were two hot men there dancing the way the men do in the films. If you see one of the musical numbers for the first time you might think the men look a little effeminate, because we are not used to seeing men be so emotive. But once you get used to it it looks SOOOOOOO SEXY. I was ready to proclaim my love right there on the spot (In a song, of course...with the whole dance club behind me dancing in step with me)

Hrithik- If you are reading this, I am willing to forget everything I said here if I can only be Mrs. Roshan.

mood: rockstar


karma said...

I go out of my way to avoid anything Bollywood. But happy you had a good time! :))

Diana Crabtree said...

Oh Karma, Karma, Karma...

Until you have seen Shahrukh sing his thousanth song, in front of his thousanth mountainside, in one of his thousanth costume changes, you will never know true happiness! ;)