Many of my foreign friends are fans of Hindi film. The masala of singing and dancing, romantic love triangles and unadulterated
culture is what draws them in. They like Bollywood. They love Bollywood. Bollywood is in their blood— as Akshay Kumar in
Take Megan Nass, a Melbourne television producer. An obsession with Shah Rukh Khan led to a meeting with her hero when
India was filming down under. Erica Reddy, a mother of two, is another Bollywood afficionado. When one of her daughters bagged a part in
Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
, Erica got the chance to catch SRK and Rani Mukherjee at work in New York.
As an Oxford University student, Charlie Henniker turned Bollywood junkie when he discovered Priyanka Chopra in a dressing gown and Salman Khan in a sherwani shooting
at his doorstep. Since their initial introductions to Indian cinema, Megan, Erica and Charlie have all visited India, chasing their Bollywood dream.
Mumbai may be the centre of the industry, but Delhi has its share of shooting. Alas, I fear that Bollywood has given them unrealistic expectations about life in the Capital. Landing at the international airport, the behaviour of hi-fi fanatic firangis may raise eyebrows.
At the pre-paid taxi stand, they will settle for nothing less than Govinda as their driver; and will wait all day for him if they have to. Somebody please tell these foreign types that in real life the man is an actor. That whole taxi thing was just his character’s role in
. For Chi-Chi, driving a black-and-yellow Delhi cab (and perhaps playing at politics) is all about pretending.
find star-spotting a more filmi pursuit than temple hopping. At Delhi’s famed historical sites, they may look like regular tourists, but pay close attention. Here’s a scene at Qutab Minar: ‘Would you like a guide, Madam?’ ‘Yes, but I will settle for none other than
’s Aamir Khan.’
And, if he wants a tip, a quick serenade of
if you please. No luck with Aamir at Qutab Minar? Perhaps the Habitat Centre or India Gate may prove more successful. We may find him in his sepia-toned
Rang De Basanti
avatar, they hope. Then it’s on to Humayan’s tomb. Nice pile.
Bit like the Taj Mahal, only in brown. But what we really came here for was to naach with Preity Zinta and Abhishek Bachchan. Nothing beats a spot of
Jhoom Barabar Jhoom
. Next stop is Old Delhi. This is Chandni Chowk? Bizarre. It doesn’t look much like this in
Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham
A perfunctory glance at the Red Fort, and then on to more serious business — locating Akshay Kumar’s house. What could be more authentic than a cup of
with Deepika Padukone and the former
Chandni Chowk to China
? ‘It may take you a while’, I cry out to Megan, Erica and Charlie as they head off through Old Delhi’s crowded streets. There is a lesson to be learnt from this: don’t believe everything you see in the movies.