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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bless You Bollywood!

Mention Bollywood, today the first thing that comes to mind is the Bolly-dance. It is this phenomenon that makes Bollywood and cinema in India so very unique. 99% of the films Bollywood turns out are musicals full of incredibly imaginative, loud, vibrant and exciting scenes of song and dance. Bollywood song and dance numbers do not only provide the most popular entertainment to the people, they are also contributing in a big way to convert over 300 million people in India from weak-literacy to functional literacy through Same Language Subtitling (SLS). SLS simply suggests subtitling the lyrics of existing film songs and music-videos on TV, in the ‘same’ language as the audio. In other words, Bollywood film songs marry Karaoke to produce mass literacy. “Karaoke” approach to literacy provides automatic and regular reading practice to the early-literate in India. In addition, nearly 300 million illiterate people are motivated to become literate.

Bollywood dance scene is a piece of art, and it is the costume designer who adds to the art it's color. As the slow and steady progress of western culture imposes itself onto the East it is nice to see that somethings are being returned. Bolly-dance is starting to subtly but undoubtedly influence Western dance, specifically Hip-Hop and Pop. It cannot be over emphasized how special Bolly-dance really is to India's, and even world's culture. A small but significant example is when America's NBC show Smash goes Bollywood. NBC's musical drama pays homage to Indian movies with an elaborate performance airing April 23. It's a dream sequence, set to the original song ''A Thousand and One Nights'' written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and is ­triggered by the strained relationship between Karen (Katharine McPhee, pictured) and Dev (Raza Jaffrey). ''They have dinner in an Indian restaurant and there are Bollywood numbers playing in the videos on the wall,'' says Smash creator Theresa Rebeck.

However, Bollywood's biggest contribution is in India's cultural unite. There was a time when Indians were fanatically divided for speaking different language in different states to the extent that non-Hindi speaking people literally hated Hindi language. However, their lifelong passion for Bollywood films, particularly the songs, has totally changed the scenario. Now the people from Maharashtra to Mizoram and Kashmir to Kanyakumari cannot wait to watch the latest Hindi language film from Bollywood and repeatedly listen to its hit songs and even remember the lyrics of the songs they like. Thanks to Bollywood, the language barrier, particularly the hate wave against Hindi, is long over and passed into history. Not only Bollywood has helped non-Hindi speaking people leave their hate against Hindi language far behind, it has also contributed in a big way to bring together people belonging to different cultural background. Bollywood fosters the spirit of brotherhood which is displayed by filmgoers every day in every show. While enjoying a film, one never thinks to which caste and religion the next person in the theatre belongs to. In fact, everybody sit together in one place and enjoy the film together. They cry for the same reason, laugh at the same joke and sing the same songs.

Bollywood movies have time and again shown that they are immune to economic turmoil. Even during the worst of economic depression Bollywood blockbusters have made thousands throng to the theaters. When people are depressed due to inflation they want to watch a movie, when they are happy with elation they want to watch movies. Amid the continuing poverty and frustrating period that came in the aftermath of partition, Indians looked to Bollywood to provide the messages of their best hope. In the beginning era of Bollywood, what was then an extremely conservative society, Bollywood gently pressed back boundaries by portraying relations between the sexes as those between companions and equals. The radicals of Indian cinema sought to rebel without causing outrage. In V. Shantaram's “Duniya Na Mane” Shanta Apte was cast as Nirmala, a young girl marri­ed to a man old enough to be her father. Instead of accepting the marriage as a ‘failed accomplishment” she revolts, refusing to have conjugal relations with her hus­band and making him realize his mistake. Dev Anand's film, Guide, was a tale of love between a single man and a married woman – an extremely taboo subject that was nonetheless finessed into a popular and perennially beloved hit. The tacit Bollywood ethic helped to familiarize its audience with the possibility of Hindus, Muslims and others living in amity in a plural India. Bollywood has given Indians an inspiring image and narratives of integrity and decency, giving them an optimism that, until recently, the circumstances of the country rarely gave cause for.

As Bollywood celebrates its centenary there is no better way to congratulate it than to continue counting its countless blessings. Bollywood seems to be one of the reasons why India is so prominent on the global map. True, there are other reasons for it but none of them are as glamorous as the movies made by great Bollywood moviemakers. Bollywood has nowadays become synonymous with instant celebrityhood. Bollywood has witnessed a lot of progress from its nascent years. It has been continuously evolving for the better. Bollywood fascinates one and all; it has captivated the hearts of millions of viewers in India and abroad. Hindi cinema had humble beginnings. Raja Hrishchandra was the first silent feature film made way back in 1913. Ardeshir Irani’s Alam Ara (1931) was the first sound film. This was just the beginning of what would later become revered as Bollywood. It has seen a monstrous growth ever since. Bollywood has come a long way, seen a lot, shown a lot and it marches ahead without faltering much. Now the time has come when Bollywood industry is touching the height of sky. The great Indian Bollywood saga is more enchanting than a fairy tale, spicier than Indian food. Bollywood’s evolution with time can provide enough fodder for a million books to be written or odes to be sung. On its auspicious centenary celebrations let us wish Bollywood the best and an immortal life :
Tum jiyo hazaron saal, har saal ke din hon hazaar!
Bless you Bollywood!!


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