Bollywood Dreams

I just bought Bollywood Dreams by Jonathan Torgovnik. I had earlier posted a link to some of the photographs from the book.

This picture shows a huge cut-out of the Tamil film star Vikaykant. I've never found Vijaykant appealing, even when he was in his prime (see below), but I had a maid at one point who was crazy about him. I said to her, "How can you like Vijaykant? He's ugly, like a raakshas (demon)." She said, "Well, I'm also like a raakshas. That's why I like him." I still don't have a reply to that. Instead I laughed, and so did she.

Which reminds me of Louis Malle's wonderful series of documentary films, Phantom India. One of the segments was called 'Things Seen in Madras.' It included a visit to a studio where a scene from a Tamil film was being shot. It was in fact the late Shivaji Ganesan, and a female star I didn't recognise. He played the nadaswaram -- a kind of squeaky, whiny clarinet -- while he and the heroine exchanged meaningful glances. They both looked quite fat, and were heavily painted with pink make-up. Malle's comment was (approximately): The people here are so beautiful; why are their film stars so ugly?

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