Growing up "abroad" meant that I was not exposed to the constant buzz that is Bollywood, in India. And yet, today, I am overwhelmed by memories of heroes that I saw up there, on the flickering screen, crooning words of love as they chased their inamoratas around trees, in classic hindi movie style. Just thinking about it, makes me realize that some parts of our culture, we can choose to ignore, but they are so all pervasive in the environment that they manage to leave their mark nonetheless. Then again, there’s bollywood, and there’s Indian cinema.
Raaj Kumar. With his throaty bass voice giving dialogue to bad boys everywhere. Shammi Kapoor. Yahoo! Junglee. And such a flirt. Sanjeev Kapoor, who must have stolen my heart a thousand times with his schoolboy glances and sweet, shy smiles. Raj Kumar. Awara hoon. Anari. Mukesh brought him to life for me with his laments, his ballads and his sad lonesome songs. Nana Patekar. Violence and anger filled him. As did madness. Yet, ek machchar ne mard ko hijra banadiya bhi kya dialogue tha, boss. Shah Rukh Khan. Yes Boss. Ashok Kumar in Achchut Kanya. But she was so beautiful. Balraj Sahni in Do Beegha Zameen. Pyaasa and Kaagaz ke Phool. They span the lifetime of hindi cinema.