She Reads South Asia

SheReadsSouthAsia

Friday, December 30, 2005

My Review of Narendra Jadhav's "Untouchables"

Untouchables: My Family’s Triumphant Journey Out Of The Caste System In Modern India

It is a fact that 1 out of every 6th person on the face of the earth is an Indian. What is staggering and often unknown is the fact that 1 out of every 6th Indian, which ultimately translates to 165 million people is an untouchable or a Dalit, the lowest caste position in Hinduism. Over many, many years these people have been subjected to inhuman cruelties, subsequently having been made lower than animals.

Untouchables is a history of one such family of the Dalit caste and their journey to free themselves from it. With all the severe hardships and excruciating trials, the author’s father rebelled against the atrocities that almost killed him and the ones who mercilessly rendered such upon these innocent and docile people.

This amazing and intense story will make you laugh a little, cry a lot and assess your life in great detail. A heart-wrenching account told from Narendra’s parents, Damu and Sonu’s point of view; each chapter ending with one’s narrative and picking up with the other’s on the same event and continuing forward.

It takes place during a crucial time in India’s history, when Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi were touring the nation with their speeches, rallying people for the great cause - Freedom.

The love, courage and determination Damu and Sonu have for each other, their children and their freedom eventually proves victorious, thus affording their children a better life than their own.

As you read this story, allow yourself to be drawn in and forever changed, while entering a world where unimaginable events happen to a people with no way out of the predicament into which they were born. Your senses will be awakened, as you will almost taste the grilled bhakris and hot chai, smell the stench of cow dung, which hangs heavily in the air, hear the hunger cries of both children and adults, feel the stings of the whip as it cracks against raw flesh, experience the fervor of the protestors and in the end rejoice with the victors after seeing the mighty determination they possess.

Narendra Jadhav breaths life into his father’s diaries and endless family stories and shares them so that we may come to understand a world much different from our own. . . Or is it?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Kahani, a US magazine for South Asian children

The following information was given to me from SAJA news.

Newspapers in metros with large South Asian populations could take several angles with the Kahani profile.

They could talk about why two women in Boston were motivated to start a magazine for South Asian children.

We started Kahani because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of South Asian children. There is plenty of good children's literature that reflects the mainstream American experience. And there is plenty of literature available in India about Indian culture and folklore, but there is not enough literature for our children that reflects their multicultural experience growing up here.

Our children go through a fascinating bi-cultural experience. They go for soccer and ballet classes, but they also go for Indian music and dance classes; they eat pizza and burgers, but they also enjoy Indian food; they listen to music by Britney Spears but they also listen to Hindi songs from Bollywood movies; they get embarrassed if grandma comes to school in a sari; and they go for long vacations to their native country to meet extended family. In most public libraries and book stores, there are very few stories about brown-skinned children, with names like Anju and Ahmed, who go through experiences like these. The few books available are typically about our festivals - Diwali, Holi and Eid. We started Kahani to fill this vacuum.

They could talk about the amazing quality of the magazine…

Kahani is the first magazine of its kind in the children’s market. We work hard to produce a quality product. There are no ads in the magazine. All the stories and all the art in Kahani are original and have been especially produced for us. A number of well-known South Asian children’s writers and illustrators have contributed to Kahani, including Uma Krishnaswami, Mitali Perkins, Ruth Jayaveeran, Pooja Makhijani, Rukhsana Khan and Anjali Bannerjee. The stories are complemented by non-fiction articles: a regular column by renowned linguist Anu Garg; a science and math column by T.V. Padma; A “Spotlight” on a successful South Asian role model; Rreviews of South Asian books; and a fun cartoon strip! Librarians across the country have loved the depth and quality of the magazine.

South Asian children deserve a quality product, tailored just for them!

They could talk about Kahani’s upcoming story-writing contest….

We are launching Kahani’s First Annual Young Writer’s Contest in November. We want kids to use their creativity and write a short story which includes the words, “mango,” “elephant” and “rikshaw.” In January we will launch an Art Contest, in which kids will be called on to illustrate the winning story. The winning combination will be published in the magazine. There will be cash prizes and several winning stories will be published on our website. The kids will have fun.

We want South Asian children to have a platform to express their unique talents. We want as many kids as possible to find out about the contest and participate. It would be great if mainstream newspapers could find out about the Contest and write about it to inform their readership.

For more information, our website is: Kahani.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

One Year Anniversary of Tsunami

In honor of the one-year anniversary of the tsunami, we give you these two articles by veteran international journalist Ken Moritsugu. You can also listen to interviews conducted by Sandeep Junnarkar with Mr. Moritsugu on the corresponding pages.

Tsunami aid distributed unevenly between India's fishing and farming villages
SAJA 1

A Rush to Rebuild Leads to Wasted Effort
SAJA 2

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Indian baby born with external heart dies

I cried while ready this article. It is a shame that she died when it could have been prevented.

Infant girl developed infection; parents couldn't afford surgery

MSNBC

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Book Review - The Speech Of Angels

Not your average rags-to-riches story!

Sharon Maas uses ‘The Speech of Angels’ to capture the vivid sights, the cacophony of sounds and the pungent smells of the darkest backstreets in Bombay, India, while taking you to the elite and elaborate dwellings in Germany and London in the same breath.

Her writing style excites the reader and draws them into a world, which may be different from their own, yet allows them to wholly relate to the story and empathize with the characters portrayed. It is a book that cannot easily be put down without devouring every page, right to the very last. The rich details and striking descriptions she utilizes paint an intense picture that becomes embedded in the reader’s mind and is not soon forgotten.

Jyothi is a five-year-old street child from Bombay, whose eyes are a mirror into her soul. A shy little girl who doesn’t fit in anywhere in her own country, let alone a strange new Western one, until the day when it is discovered that she possesses a rare musical talent. With the urgings and encouragement from her adopted family and few close friends, Jyothi, in time, transforms into the international musical phenomenon - Jade.

Music becomes her life, her very being; conveying everything her words cannot. So what happens when her beloved music is taken away? How will she survive the turmoil raging within her? When she does, will it be as Jyothi or Jade?

Her soul-searching journey begins with the confrontation of shadows, fears and the images of a world she so desperately tries to leave behind. Follow Jyothi as she wraps herself in a cocoon and with time and nurturing emerges a beautiful butterfly.

You can find The Speech of Angels and Sharon’s other books - Of Marriageable Age and Peacocks Dancing at Amazon.com.

Sharon's site can be found here/

Talking To Your Teen

Many parents Indian and otherwise find it difficult to talk with their teens about the issues that they face everyday - peer pressure, smoking, drugs, dating, sex, etc. I found it just as difficult getting any teens to agree to talk with me about these for an interview. But one young girl steppped up to the plate and spoke candidly with me. Here is the article that was published in India New England Newspaper last week.


YOUTH LIFESTYLE: Teen Talk
By Simran Silva

Editor’s Note: This project was to evolve as a conversation with a few South Asian teens about everyday issues they face. Unfortunately, getting teens to talk on record was quite a challenge. This article therefore looks only at one teen’s views. It is by no means meant to encompass all teens’ views on the topics discussed. If you are a teen and would like to contribute to the conversation, please send a letter to the editor at papte@indianewengland.com with relevant contact information. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Today’s youth don’t have it as easy as they did years ago. They are not only dealing with routine things such as life with family, friends and school but also the pressures and situations that some may not realize.

As adults, talking with them is essential but equally important is listening to them, hear what they have to say.

They may surprise or embarrass us with their questions and answers. Nonetheless, if we are to help them, we need to know exactly what they are facing, how it affects them and how they feel about it. It is normal that the embarrassment is there when discussing delicate matters. However, if we don’t have meaningful discussions and leave it to chance, we are asking for trouble.

Peer pressure has taken on a whole new meaning — not subtle for the most part, it entails issues that we sometimes don’t want to discuss. Yet, these issues are real and need to be addressed if we are going to keep our youth safe and help them become healthy adults. None are immune to the stresses and pressures thrown on us by life but with definite support groups in place and professional help they can be victorious.

Parents are not the only ones who feel uncomfortable discussing certain subjects openly; the teens are equally uncomfortable going to their parents or other adults, which is why they turn to each other, creating a recipe for disaster as it becomes a situation where the blind are leading the blind.

Issues like binge drinking, smoking, depression, drugs, dating and teen pregnancy are some of the main concerns facing our youth today, but talking about them and getting help still remains taboo in many instances.

Case in point, there were several teens that were asked to join in this discussion and they agreed to do so, until they read the questions. Many asked if their names had to be mentioned others came right out and said that the questions were too personal and embarrassing and decided not to contribute. However, a courageous young girl of 13, Natasha Sharma did answer them candidly. Speaking on the subjects of parents, peer pressure, dating, spirituality, school and drugs/drinking, this is the essence of what she had to say.

“I believe that honoring your parents is important. I mean they are the ones that work hard to put a roof over your head and food on the table. One of the things you can do for the things they have done for you is to respect and honor them.

They are wise, they have been in certain situations that might be very new to you and I believe that they deserve to know and they might be able to help you out. I look for guidance in my parents when I don’t know what to do and they advice me to do things that make my situations better. C’mon they’re parents they just know much more. Because they love you, they don’t want their kids getting in trouble or getting hurt. And it’s important for them to know where you are because then they aren’t worried that much and they know where to look for you if there’s an emergency.

How do I make real friends? You just do. It just happens. You might find someone who shares your interests and has good morals like you do. It just happens.

As far as peer pressure, someone I knew once said ‘what’s right isn’t always popular, and what’s popular isn’t always right’. That’s what I live by in terms of peer pressure. I am mature enough to tell what’s right and what’s wrong and I know I wouldn’t do anything stupid or things that might be hurtful and cause harm to people.

Teenagers want to be like others their age, have the things that others have, the cute boys like the popular girls, but being someone else is not always cool, the best person to be is just you. What does it say about a person if they like you for your looks and not who you really are? Don’t try to be someone you’re not; the world wouldn’t be exciting if all the people were the same, that’s why God made us all unique in our own way. Some may have negative feelings about themselves because of the things or situations they have gone through in life. A good way to build self-esteem would be to follow good morals, do good, be kind and learn to forgive; life is too short to be spent in hatred. Give the world the best you can, be proud of who you are.

Spirituality is important for youth but it also depends on what the person has been taught.

I think school has its pros and cons. You learn a lot, academically and gain experience. But then again you learn things that you might not like. Grades are important. Everything you do in life is somehow connected to the opportunities you get in the future.

If you had good grades and your friend has bad grades, you might be the one getting the higher position in a job. When you study hard early in life it pays off later. My goal is to get a good education. Education is very important in life and it is the one thing that people can’t take away from you. In your teenage years your mind is like clay, it’s taking shape and what you learn now is going to stay with you in the future. Also to get a good job that I like, and that I’m proud of doing.

I feel that dating means going out with someone that you have special feeling for. But you have to be careful because sometimes people make you do things that you might regret later. It’s important to know who you’re dating because you wouldn’t want to spend your life with someone that had things they never told you.

Kids get involved with drugs and alcohol partly because of stress and peer pressure. They try to do things that their friends think are ‘cool’. The dangers of drinking and driving are serious. If your friend or the person that is giving you a ride has been drinking, stop them from driving and don’t get into the car with them. You can get in an accident and end up in a hospital or even worse — dead.”

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

NaNoWriMo

Well, I didn't reach the 50k mark to complete NaNoWriMo last month but I did get to 30k. Not bad for a month of writing. But I'm working on finishing the book and sending it out for publication as soon as it's done. My author page -
NaNoWriMo.org/userinfo.php?uid=74304

Here is the blogspace of one of my fellow NaNoWriMo/Absolute Write authors who did cross the finish line and kindly offered to help with some questions/translations for my story. What a gal!

Sanyuja

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Indian Humor

Melvin Durai is an India-born, North America-based humorist, writer and occasional stand-up comedian and he is hilarious. Check out his website at Melvin Durai to see what I mean. You can even sign up to get his weekly newsletter in your mailbox.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ugly Family Secrets

Ugly Family Secrets is an article written by another of my fellow writers at the Writing in India Yahoo group, Jane Henry.

It reveals the startling prevalence of child sexual abuse in Indian families and the importance of addressing it. Please read her article at Ugly Family Secrets

Jane also would like you to know that there are currently24-hour national child helplines in well over 50 cities in India. Last year alone the Bangalore helpline(1098) was able to intervene in about 120 cases of child abuse.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Goin' To Goa!

One of my favorite sayings is - "I'm goin' to Goa!" And someday I'll actually get there. In the meantime, my friend and fellow co-writer and I have written a Bollywood script. We are now in the process of adapting it into a novel. The title is My India Passages Through Time. The script is in the possession of a Bollywood director and the novel will soon be published.

Since it has to do with the state of Goa, I think we've researched every Goan site on the Internet or we're at least very close to it in order to get our facts straight. Here are some which we have found and enjoy. Hope you will too.

Goa Net

Goa World

Goa Com

Goan Cultural Society Events and G.M.S.

Travel to Goa - Goa Tourism, Goa2u and Tourism of India

Goa Sudharop

Amy's Indian Food Products

I just discovered Amy's Kitchen - specifically her Indian food products. (her parents actually met in India) If you're on a vegetarian or gluten-free diet these meals are for you. Besides buying them in your grocery and health food stores, hundreds of college and university campuses are now selling Amy’s great tasting organic vegetarian food in their convenience stores too.

Tonight I had the Mattar Paneer and boy was it great! Tender organic peas and Indian cheese in an authentic delicately spiced sauce. Golden carrots, onions and cumin add flavor and color to the organic basmati rice. Curried chana masala round out this delicious meal that will appeal to all who appreciate fine Indian cooking.

Are you hungry yet? lol

I'm looking forward to trying the Palak Paneer, Samosa Wraps, Mattar Tofu and Vegetable Korma.

Check out her site here

You can also vote for Amy's Kitchen here

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lovemarks for things Indian

Lovemarks is a site where you can nominate and leave comments for brand name items and now for people and places you love. Here are a few from India:

India

Shah Rukh Khan

Kajol

Taj Mahal

The Ashram

The Indian Express

Matheran - Hill Stations of India

Kerala, India

Writing Contests and Such

I've entered my share of writing contests in my time. (my time? wow that makes me feel old - lol) Anyway, here are the links to a two of them. Unfortunately, I didn't win with either of them. : (

A Lasting Impression - India Smiles Contest

A Mind Brewing Experience - (See if you can find the Indian connection)
Caffeine Society Stories

Writing Forums/Groups

Here is the very first writing group I signed up with, which just happens to be based in India.

It's called Writing In India and used to be a Topica list. It has recently moved to Yahoo and here is the link - Writing In India/

I've also met many wonderful people from this group and would like to share their blogs with you too.

Alfred's Thinking Without A Box

International Freelance Writer and Author - Mridu Khullar

Hasmita's Blog

Amrit Hallan

Paritosh Shuttam

Mangesh Ghogre

The Power of Vedic Mathematics

Janani's Blogspot

Manoj's Website Marketing Designs

Bollywood and EBAY

Here are the links to my two favorite Bollywood stores on EBAY. Check them out for yourself and tell them Simran sent you. : )

The Absolute Indian Store and bollywood-international-fan-shop

Happy shopping!

New Diaspora Forum

This is one of the forums I'm affiliated with. Some of its members have even helped with ideas and questions I had concerning my novel. This forum is run by my friend Eddie D'SA.

NewDiaspora

New Disapora serves as an independent forum for general discourse by South Asians, including Goans settled in the West and elsewhere. Commentaries have already been presented and views exchanged on a host of subjects including the Arts, language, literature, history, politics, race, culture, religion, gender issues, community projects. Asian diaspora are invited to assess their situation within the host country, and explore relations between host, homeland and the wider world. (courtesy of New Diaspora)


Some of the members have their own websites too. Here are the links to some of the sites:

Vaibhav Gangan/

Frederick Noronha

Ben Antao

Cliff Pereira

Ruth DeSouza's New Book - 'Walking upright here' and her website

Domestic Violence Awareness

Two weekends ago, I went on a walk that encourages all to Stop Domestic Violence with the group dedicated to helping South Asian women, called Saheli

The article about the walk appears here - Saheli Walk

I've also written an article on the abuse against women too, which you can find under my articles link in the sidebar.

Mit Gayin Dooriyan

This article is about a year old but it was published in Little India magazine. In fact, this is the article I interviewed Aswin for at the time.

MIT Gayin Dooriyan

Turning the tables

My friend and fellow journalist Aswin turned the tables on me by making me the interviewee instead of the interviewer. But it was a lot of fun. If you'd like to read the interview, please go to the following link.

Bollyspace


Also, please check out my Shah Rukh Khan website

Not just writing!

Besides all the writing, there has to be time to read too. I try to fit this in wherever possible, which explains the backpack with books and journals (to take important notes for future use) I carry everywhere. If I have to wait somewhere like in the doctor's office or in the parking lot of my daughters' workplace until they come out, there is almost always a book in my hands.

The lastest novel that I just finished reading was 'Speech of Angels' by Sharon Maas. You can find the review I wrote on it above.

'The Ashram' by Sattar Memon is a novel you will want to read, especially if you like mysteries, romance and spirituality, as it encompasses all of those and more. You can find my review and interview with Dr. Memon under My Article Link in the sidebar.

The next novel that is on the list (and still somewhere in the mail) is 'Untouchables : My Family's Triumphant Journey Out of the Caste System in Modern India by Narendra Jadhav

Vikram Seth 's new novel 'Two Lives' is also on my reading list. Yesterday, SAJA had a live Web Cast interview with this famous author, who is best known for his novel 'A Suitable Boy'. Here is the link to the interview, if you would like to hear it. SAJA

Writing, writing and more writing

I've been writing so many things, assignments, my novel, website updates and e-mails that I haven't been able to sit down and get this blog writing started. But here I am - finally!

My job as copy editor and contributing writer for Bollyvista, besides maintaining my Shah Rukh Khan page and writing articles and posts for Shah Rukh's Official Home/Forum Asian Outlook keeps me busy during the late night hours.

Writing for various India periodicals such as Namaskar India(online soon), Lokvani and India New England , content writing, along with participating in NaNoWriMo to write a novel in a month's time and doing the PR work for 'The Ashram' (please see my articles link) and various volunteer efforts and meetings keep my daytime hours filled.

When do I sleep you ask? Sleep is a precious commodity, which I don't receive enough of, but I'm trying to fit that into my life as well.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

MIT Gayin Dooriyan


MIT Gayin Dooriyan

(Published in Little India Magazine on Sunday December 05, 2004)

Bollywood is gaining respect in the halls of academe.

Nothing quite erases the distance (mit gayin dooriyan) for the 20 million NRIs worldwide than Bollywood.

"Indian cinema has for some peculiar reason, thankfully for us, got into the hearts and minds of people outside Indian shores, and that's why we are all here," says Amitabh Bachchan, the legendary film star who has acted in more than 160 Indian movies.

Increasingly now U.S. universities are beginning to pay attention to the unrelenting Bollywood phenomenon. Shanti Kumar conducts a graduate-level seminar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as part of its Media and Cultural Studies program. Priya Joshi teaches a Bollywood course at the University of California at Berkeley and Vamsee Jaluri at the University of San Francisco. The University of Wisconsin-Madison also convenes an annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference on South Asia.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, the Department of Comparative Media Studies offers two Bollywood courses taught by Tina Klein and Tuli Banerjee, whose favorite Bollywood actor is without a doubt, Amitabh Bachchan.

Klein says she developed an interest in Bollywood from her work in transnational cinema and the Diaspora. Banerjee, who was exposed to Indian cinema from an early age, says Bollywood was integral to her course on Indian popular culture. She says students in her courses learn and understand the relationship between pop culture and the social imaginary of India as a nation through this medium.

While Bollywood fans may be surprised to learn that their trivial pursuits are treated with such gravity by academics at prestigious universities, Klein says: "American academics have been studying popular film and popular culture more generally for a long time now. As Asian film becomes better known in the U.S., academics become more interested in studying it. I think as more young people with family ties to South Asia become professors, they are bringing it into the classroom as well."

Banerjee's course examines the elements of the formulaic "masala movie, music and melodrama, the ideas of nostalgia and incumbent change in youth culture, as well as shifting questions of gender and sexuality. Using various Bollywood films, we come to grasp how the film industry is organized and how it shapes what we see on the screen."

Aswin Punathembekar, an MIT alumnus, currently pursuing his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says "The most important thing to do here is to get away from the idea that the Hollywood mode of film production and aesthetics is the 'right' way and that all other cinemas are somehow not the norm. Most journalists writing in the West make this assumption that Indian cinema is little more than a poor imitation of Hollywood. The fact of the matter is Indian cinema has evolved its own aesthetic system, derived from a range of influences (Sanskrit and Parsi theatre, mythologies such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, folk performance/music, etc.).

"Indian cinema, like cinemas in other nations, is best understood in relation to the socio-cultural and political contexts within which it operates, to which it responds. It should be studied because as a culture industry, it has enormous influence on various individual, social and political levels.

"It plays an extremely crucial role in constructing identity (national, regional, religious, gender, sexual, linguistic, and so on). Think about all the ways in which Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, etc. are dealt with in Hindi cinema, or gender stereotypes, questions of sexuality...the list is endless!"

In the MIT Bollywood classes, elements of Indian cinema are dissected, examined under the microscope, and serve as grist for term papers. Students argue over their favorite stars - Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Vivek Oberoi, Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta and Zayed Khan - and films - Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Dil Se, Kal Ho Naa Ho and Main Hoon Na.

At one particular class they could come to an agreement on their worst film. LOC (Line of Control) bombed as far as everyone was concerned. Bad plot, bad songs and bad acting was their consensus, notwithstanding the fact that the movie had an all-star line-up.

"Some of my non-Asian friends have a hard time figuring out Bollywood. They even ask if the songs are a 'break' in the film, rather than coming to understand how much of an integral part they are of the film," notes senior Akhil Narang.

"If, for instance, the couple in question are in the house in the scene of the film and the song takes place in the kitchen, chances are it's in 'real time' and should be seen as such. If the song changes from the present place/situation totally, to some exotic lands, well then, it's now the 'fantasy aspect' of the film, but it still relates to the plot itself. Then there are the songs you internalize with, like Dil Se," says graduate student Parmesh Shanai.

Actor/producer Shahrukh Khan once explained Bollywood to novices: "The Hindi film is like Titanic, everything is told to you. This is going to happen, the ship will hit an iceberg and just in case you don't know it, let me show you at the beginning of the film how it happened. Everything is explained, you don't have to think too hard, just enjoy the moments. Films are very basic. You follow the story, you enjoy it, it's full of emotion and whenever you get a little bogged down, a song will come.

"A Hindi film is a complete variety entertainment show and you don't have to worry about whether you'll understand the film or not. I think films should not give social messages, or pass value judgments, or tell you what's right and what's wrong. Films should make you laugh, cry, sing, dance, have a good time and come back home, that's all."

Now what could be simpler than that folks?

Students and faculty alike are clearly having a blast.

"What I like most about the class is how the information we gain can be interwoven into many aspects of life, literature, etc.," says senior Neil Sengupta.

Tracy Daniel's enthusiasm bubbles forth as she explains how the class enlightened her on Indian culture, ideals, as well as the color and splendor of the sets and costumes. In a paper entitled, "Bollywood Dreams: Visions of a Wet Sari", she writes, "The sari is draped with numerous connotations of life, love, and sorrow, yet never is it more provocative than when drenched by Bollywood Cinema. The “wet sari” sequence was popularized in the 1970's and 80's films of Raj Kapoor, who shrewdly exploited gratuitous titillation in the face of the importunate censorship looming over Indian filmmakers at the time. Pooja Kaul re-appropriates the sari in a manner that is equally suggestive, yet diverts itself from the seemingly gratuitous nature of Bollywood by grounding it in classical traditions of expression and emotion."

Commenting on the films themselves, she says, "I love the songs and even though I don't understand Hindi, the themes break the language barrier. It's easy to understand that two people are in love or see the turmoil between families."

Graduate student Sajan Saini, who has a growing personal interest in documentary filmmaking and script-writing, reminisces, "I grew up watching Hindi movies every weekend at a rented theatre where my parents ran the shows for local Indians living in Montreal. I thought Amitabh was “The Man”.

"During my teens, I went through a long phase of disenchantment with Bollywood. Since the time of DDLJ, I've found myself returning to a Bollywood, that's been dynamically improving its narrative trends... and as a moviegoer, I'm beginning to appreciate and respect more the spectacle-driven entertainment value and technical proficiency of the Bollywood pot-boiler.

"Film makers like Mani Ratnam, Farhan Akhtar, and the super-cool Ram Gopal Varma have gotten me excited about Bollywood's growing levels of narrative maturity, or at the very least character-intensive plots. And what I find particularly interesting, is how the aged Amitabh Bachchan has begun opening up new plot structures for Bollywood: stories about older characters and the personal struggles they are enduring, as opposed to college-based youthful love stories."

Film scholar and MIT alumnus, Sangita Shresthova, who now finds herself living in Prague, Czechoslovakia, wasn't leaving Bollywood behind when she moved. She not only teaches traditional Indian and Bollywood dance there, but also recently organized a festival of Bollywood films with a Czech film maker who's very interested in Bollywood films and an Indology scholar, who studied with her at Charles University.

She told Radio Prague, "Our objective really was to bring Bollywood to Prague, and I think we've succeeded in doing that. We also really wanted to motivate the South Asian community here to be more active, and I think maybe we've succeeded in that."

The Bollywood juggernaut rolls on.