The other night we decided we wanted to see an Indian movie. These are referred to as "Bollywood" and it is a HUGE industry here. I have heard of them before and knew that they were usually cheesy musicals and maintained very innocent standards, nobody even actually kisses on screen, and there is definitely no sex, nudity, etc. So, we found a movie called "Jaane tu...ya jaane na" which means "Whether you know or not." There were nine of us who went to the movie and two of the nine included Indian women who work for the Fulbright office in Delhi and are coordinating our Pune portion of the trip. They are staying at our hotel too and they wanted to go to a movie also.
When you get there, there are two different lines to buy tickets, one for men and one for women. Each can buy however many tickets they need but that way they don't have to stand in line together which is culturally a bit taboo. It is amusing to me that in a country where they have such a HUGE population and people are obviously reproducing a lot, sex is a completely taboo subject and in case you were wondering, India, like Iran, also has no gay people. Ha.
Anyway, we got our tickets and went in and while we waited they had shopping in the movie theatre and a food court with a lot of Western food. One of the funniest things I have seen since I arrived here was a group of women in saris sitting around and eating a bucket of KFC, there is just something so incongruous about that! We bought our popcorn (it is unbuttered and a large is about 1/6 the size of an American large which probably helps explain why we are such fat asses!) and cans of diet coke and went in the movie. I knew it would be in Hindi and so I was kind of nervous about sitting through a two and a half hour movie in a language I don't speak, but we devised a great system.
We had assigned seats in two rows. One Indian woman and a group of us Americans sat in each row and anytime there would be long spans of dialogue or a random character we couldn't figure out, our movie watching turned into a game of telephone. The Indian women would explain what happened and then we would pass the message down the row. Those at the end of the row were getting the embellishments and opinions of all of the previous people and it was quite comical to be at the end of the row! Most of the time we could figure out what was going on just fine because about 1/3 of the phrases they say are in English. I have talked about "Hinglish" before, the mix of Hindi and English and this movie did not disappoint. It had catchy, cheesy songs, and typical Bollywood choreography and I think I might be hooked on Bollywood movies. It was absolutely hilarious!
Here is a link to the movie's website if you would like to check out what it was about and what the adorable characters looked like. Also, I believe a sample of the music is on the website too!
I have found out that in addition to Bollywood, there are also other centers of movie making around India in other languages because Hindi is not the official language in all of the states here. For example, near Hyderabad there is an area called Tollywood where they make films in Telagu, the language of that state and then in Chennai movies are released in the Tamil language. I have heard that almost all of them are musicals and I sure do love musicals so that makes me think I will probably like Bollywood. When you rent them they have subtitles so I wouldn't have to randomly find someone at home who speaks Hindi to translate!
When we were in Hyderabad a few weeks ago, we saw them filming a Tollywood movie at the fort we visited and here are some pictures of the female star and then her male backup dancers. They were surprised to see a big group of white people watching their movie being made and the star came over and waved at us and said hi. It was so cool! The picture at the beginning of the post is the actress and below her dancers!