Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Don't Call It Bollywood by Margaret Redlich

When you are the only people you know who watch Indian movies, it can feel a little lonely. You meet others who say, "I love Bollywood movies" only to find they have watched a total of one whose name they can't recall, or they like the idea of Bollywood, or they love those colorful dances but that's all. Whereas you've watched about 50 and that's not the sharing you were hoping for. At least our Bollywood love is shared within our family so there are five of us living the dream.

You wish you could make an Indian best friend who could guide you to movies Westerners could understand, and explain what is so great about the blockbusters you thought were bonkers. (3 Idiots I'm lookin' at you.)

Then I discovered Margaret E. Redlich's starter book, Don't Call It Bollywood, so I nabbed it. It's a quick, enjoyable and informative introduction to the world of Indian movies.

This is where I learned that the wind blowing on someone means they're falling in love. That Christians are the good-natured friends in a movie, who are perfectly ok with dropping by a Hindu temple for a bit of quick worship. (Well, that cleared up some confusion for us.) We get a quick overview of the Hindi film industry and why everyone in it is related to everyone else. Except for those outsiders who manage to work the system to become stars (thank you, Shah Rukh Khan!).

We also are given pieces of Margaret's own journey into Indian movies and blogging, begun to fill her own lonely void of fellow lovers of Indian movies.

I first read this when we'd seen about 50 movies and had put a few cultural pieces together (though why people pinch their throats when they make a solemn promise still eludes us — just like if we crossed our hearts, but do they have a little childhood "promise poem" they're thinking of the way that we do when we make the gesture?).

I reread this now that we are nearing the 100-movie mark and pondering what epic to view as an appropriate homage. (Mother India? Mughal-E-Azam?) The book helped more of the pieces fall into place now that I had additional experience. Don't Call It Bollywood is a little gem if you want the basic scoop on Indian movies.

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