Looking for Bollywood in the land of Hollywood . . . . reports Sugandha Rawal
Be it using Bollywood phrases in conversations, having songs for almost any situation or using the book of Hindi cinema to find solutions to real life problems — as a Bollywood junkie I decided to go on a quest to find trail of Indian showbiz in this land of Hollywood.
My findings? Some blank stares, questions like “Is it big like Hollywood?” and a Raj Kapoor fan humming a song from one of his classic movies.
At a time when American showbiz has opened its doors to Indian actors like never before — whether it is Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Anupam Kher or divas like Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone, who have landed plum projects like “Baywatch” and “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage”, respectively — the only query that popped into my mind as I set my foot here was to know how well foreign audience know Bollywood.
With a nip in the air, the walk towards Universal CityWalk from my hotel here seemed to be a scene direct out of a romantic Hindi movie with lush surroundings, flowers blooming around each corner and music playing in the background.
Snapping out of my filmy mode, I met a young 20-something Sheri Tittrich. She was clueless about Hindi cinema, King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan or even Salman Khan.
“I don’t know but would be interested to know more about it,” she said, asking “Is it big like Hollywood?”
Mary from Alabama also asked, “Do they have stars like here?”
My next target was a group of four women, followed by another one, who requested anonymity. None of them was acquainted with Hindi cinema. Another blow to my Bollywood obsession.
But there was hope in Kesia Williams, who said: “I have never heard about it and the reason I think is the language barrier. It is not like I don’t want to see it. When I think of Hindi films, beautiful outfits, traditional ladies, Indian dresses, dancing shows come in my mind. I have seen some TV shows here talk about it”.
To add to it, Alison Silcoff from Vancouver, Canada, jumped with the mention of Bollywood, and said: “Ya, I know about Hollywood of India.”
Partially satisfied with the findings, I decided to return to my hotel. But as Shah Rukh famously said in “Om Shanti Om” — ‘Picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost’.
My cab driver from Ukraine not only turned out to be a Bollywood buff but a fan of late Indian cinematic icon Raj Kapoor. He dropped me at the hotel porch humming a song from one of the icon’s films, reminding me of the reach of Hindi cinema in a foreign land.
And he gave me a $2 discount.
A perfect end to my search for Bolly in Holly.