I’m sure you BW fans in the four corners of the world have had a similar experience: uneasy admittance of that shameful addiction: Bollywood obsession! You know, it starts like a dream, a nice dinner party with friends at your place, or at the restaurant, and the conversation lags a little, or people ask you what is your hobby, or revolves around cinema, while just before that, you were wondering how ON EARTH you were going to able to have people speak about Bollywood, so much as to say: about you, about what you love, and are so knowledgeable about! Well, it continues as a dream: they do it! They DON’T KNOW your craze, and they ask you what you do in your spare time, or what kind of films you like watching, or even more WOW: some cherishable person actually starts warbling about an Indian film he’s just seen on TV!
You then “reluctantly” admit that yes, you’re a fan too, or something of the sort, but inwardly you exult: you’re sharing that passion of yours once again!! You can vibrate with whoever it is who has liked SRK, Abhishek, or AR Rahman’s songs, and of course you can drop the names nicely, authoritatively… You can demur when somebody mentions silly remakes, because the originals were so much better, and blah blah blah. Then the not-so good part starts: you try to avoid your partner’s gaze, he or she who knows everything concerning that fad of yours, and perhaps doesn’t share it, and who has already tried to explain to you that OTHER films exist in the world; you also have to confront that nagging impression that, past the first moments of interest, your passion is not regarded as so very important by your listeners. They listen politely at first, but as soon as you go deeper into the differences between Kollywood and Lollywood, or something as inane, you see their eyes looking elsewhere as if to find some other people already involved in another discussion. There you are, you are now reduced to the not very enviable status of Bollywood weirdo.
And you long to be left to those dear blogs and forums where you can splash thigh-high in your passion, your life, your dream. Or of course, watch that dear film that you’ve just bought and that has been quietly waiting for you to lift it gently in your hands and drop it as gently in your DVD drive. And when you’re there, finally doing that, it’s that dear bliss and rapture. But, I am now going to ask: why all this? Why this fad? How long is it going to last? How come I’m so alone with this? I know I’m not crazy, but do I know whether I’m “doing the right thing”? Shouldn’t I be looking after my children and family more? My cultural universe isn’t connected with India and Indian cinema. I’m a geek, a weirdo. All this Hindi I’m learning, which pleases me so much, why, kyu? I do hope one day (ek din) to go there, to see this world I’m plunged in through this deforming lens of Indian cinema, and which I must correct thanks to other sources of information. But why India? Why not Brazil? Why not Vanuatu??
So here I am, struggling with my justifications, explaining my quirkiness, like the other day at work, when a little book about Hinduism (“Hinduism, a very short Introduction”, by Kim Knott) fell out of my pocket, and a colleague asked me “Ah, Hinduism?” and I found myself saying, “yes, I’m a fascinated by all that.”. Not very noteworthy, of course; everybody has a right to read books about Hinduism. But this colleague had already, not so long ago, seen me with a teach-yourself Hindi manual (“Hindi express”, by Aparna Kshirsagar & Jean Jacquement), and has already commented on it, and so this second discovery bared me in front of him as a kind of monomaniac which I tried to masquerade as passion. Perhaps it worked for him. But for me? I can’t hide from myself the doubts that I have about the unconscious reasons of my addiction. What’s gotten hold of me? Why has this culturally so distant world of art and life taken such an importance in my life? I find myself hiding the films which I receive through the mail, and congratulating myself when I am the first to open the mailbox and spirit the brown package out of sight. I have this huge box of films in my study, and my children admit it’s my hobby while wondering why the films have to remain in that box, out of the normal family circuit?
Well, there you have it. The musings of a lonely Bollywood fan. Hmm… Does this mean I’m on the downhill slope towards a normalisation of my passion and that it’s burning itself out? I s'pose the future will tell.