Monday, December 10, 2007

I Saw Saawariya!

I saw Saawariya.

Not on YouTube.

Not in blurry ten-minute chunks.

In a for-real movie theater.

In the heart of the rural midwest.

The sign had been up on the marquee for three days by the time my friends and I were able to go. We bought our tickets, went into the theater, and found... no one else was there. Not even the projectionist. Not even those stupid trivia questions they show before the previews.

So we went back and asked the guy behind the popcorn counter why they weren't preparing to start the movie.

"Because no one has bought any tickets for Saawariya this entire week," he said. "Not until you all showed up."

I copped a winking-miffed attitude and said "but how could anyone miss seeing Bollywood's first collaboration with Sony Pictures, featuring Ranbir Kapoor in a towel?"

So my friends and I had the theater to ourselves. This turned out to be beneficial, because we were able to talk back to the movie screen and sing along to the songs (botching all the words, of course).

Best line of the evening? When a friend who had not seen Bollywood before got her first glimpse of Mr. Kapoor and his transluscent towel.

She turned to me and asked what seemed like an obvious question, based on the visual evidence.

"Wait. Do Indian men not have any body hair?"


Name said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue said...

Thanks. That makes sense and it was something I hadn't considered.

I can see why it would read like my presenting India, or simplifying/objectifying India (and Ranbir Kapoor).

But you also have to consider my audience -- people who already have some connection to India and enjoy reading about my perspective. People who don't assume that I'm presenting anything to them because I'm touching on concepts they're already very familiar with.

Like Bollywood's tendency to wax every spare hair off of its leading men.

If I were writing to a completely uninformed audience, it would be one thing. But this blog's readership is not uninformed. (No doubt they're more informed than I am.) So does the readership change the message?

Now that my readership includes you, how should I work to modify my observations?

Name said...

Your point about your audience is fair enough. I see now that you have no malicious intentions. My problem is always when non-Indian people are treated as more expert on these issues than Indians, which you might be surprised to know happens quite frequently.

For instance, I work for a major publishing house here in the U.S., and occasionally we cover SOuth Asian issues such as Bhutto's death. But I am not allowed to cover those issues, because apparently my views are either biased or I am incapable of approaching south asian culture in a way that our readers will find identifiable (read: they want a white person's perspective, not mine). This happens again and again, and while it is not you fault, it is troubling to me as a young south asian writer that the only topic that I am not able to cover is the one that is closest to my heart, and the reason is because there is such a fixed, progressive, white-centric dialogue in the media here about what south asia is. Not excusing my behavior, just giving you the context from which I must appear to you and your friends a bit paranoid.

Name said...

Also I will not be bothering you anymore, as I can see you have returned to a fairly normal personal blog and no longer are approaching topics that would spark controversy with yours truly.