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Friday, December 28, 2018

Bollywood The Films! The Songs! The Stars!

Probably for the first time in a decade, all the three of us have been at home during the yearend holidays (normally, both Mahrukh and I work).

And being generally unmoneyed (not in any desperate sort of way, but, well, sort of only generally), we don’t really have any option but to stay at home or loiter in downtown Toronto, go see a Hindi movie or take a long ride on a streetcar.

For the first time in a long while, I’ve been able to chat with my son Che, who’s now all grown up, and talks like a young man that he has become.

The conversation is fairly broad-ranging and encompasses esoteric topics such as life’s purpose, meaning of and need for power, and the need for human company.

But given that his parents passionately love the movies, the conversation inevitably veers to movies. His passion is gaming and movies no longer interest him, which is kind of not right, but it can’t be helped.

During the Christmas weekend, we went to see Shahrukh Khan’s Zero at the Cineplex at Yonge and Dundas Square. There weren’t many people in the audience (slightly more than the number that came to see Thugs of Hindustan).

The audience in Toronto is wise and unerringly decides what movie to watch on the android box and what to watch on the big screen. As always, there were a few non-Indian (I mean Caucasian) viewers in the audience. I find it heartening to see them so avidly coming to see a Hindi movie.

Zero is a disaster. Katrina Kaif will get the best supporting actor award for her role as movie star Babita.

After the movie, we were in a mood to loiter and went across to the BMV Books at Yonge Street, “just to browse” and ended up buying a few books “because they were on a discount.”
Among the books Bollywood, a coffee table book that is sweeping introduction to (mainly popular) Hindi films right from its inception (Phalke) right up to the mid-2010s (just before the release of Bahubali and its sequel).

Bollywood The Films! The Songs! The Stars! Dorling Kindersley Limited an imprint of Penguin Random House is the first American edition, published in 2017 in New York. 

Fittingly, the foreword is by Amitabh Bachan, who accurately condemns (albeit mildly) the use of the word Bollywood (making the Hindi film industry sound like a cheap immitation of Hollywood, which it isn’t).

He quotes his father, the poet Harivanshrai Bachchan, who, when asked about Hindi cinema, said, “I get to see poetic justice in three hours! You and me shall not see this in a lifetime…perhaps several lifetimes!”

The book is a joint effort and there are many contributors including the veteran film historian SMM Ausaja. The book divides the history of Hindi cinema into seven sections beginning with 1913. It’s richly-produced, with extraordinary details, vignettes, anecdotes, factioids, biographies of film personalities and detailed descriptions of some of the most important films and film stars of Hindi cinema. 

The book is a steal at just $20.

Continued in the post below.

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