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Posts Tagged ‘SU Bollywood’

Mumbai is a city replete with treasures wherever you may look. One such treasure is Linking Road, a road that is well renowned because of the plethora of shops that dot the entirety of the road. I had a chance to go to Linking Road earlier this week, which reminded me greatly of the little hole in the wall shops that I had encountered when I went to China four years ago.

In fact, some of the best things that I was able to pick up from China came from those little shops. Mumbai has not been exception to that rule. On a deeper level, I think I really got more a glimpse of the real shopping culture that constitutes Mumbai, rather than the ersatz edifices that are the malls in this city. In a lot of ways, those malls remind me of home, rather than representing something that is truly Indian in nature.

On my excursion to the shops on Linking Road, I was able to obtain a nice shirt and really comfortable shoes for myself, and nice shoes for my mom. All in all, I really enjoyed my time perusing the various vendors up and down Linking Road. I think I gained a greater sense of what really makes up Mumbai.

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Over the course of two weeks in India, I have seen immeasurable sights, ranging from the incredibly grandiose to sights that exemplify the exact opposite. I have written before about the dichotomy of the rich and poor that exists here in Mumbai, but in this post, I wanted to pay particular attention to a certain issue that is rampant in Mumbai: a large stray dog population.

According to “The Welfare of Stray Dogs,” an organization in Mumbai which has dedicated itself to reducing the stray dog population, exposed garbage and slums are the two primary sources for the reason why the stray dog population is so large.

I was actually quite heartened when I did a cursory glance on the Internet for organizations that are dedicated towards helping improve the stray dog population. As an avid animal lover, and dog owner, it breaks my heart to see random dogs walking around the streets with no home, and no indication of help coming to them. I hope something tangible will be reached in order to solve this problem.

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Let me start this post by saying how a casual day in India turned into a phenomenal one just by arriving to one scheduled meeting. Entering one building and taking a few steps was all it took to be in awe.

To clarify our internship and speak with Dinaz, the woman taking us under her wing, my professor (TG) took Shauna and I to Amitabh Bachchan’s office. It makes me giddy just thinking about it. Unfortunately, you probably don’t feel the same way, so I’ll give you a little taste of who this man is.

Amitabh Bachchan

  • Amitabh Bachchan jump started his acting career in the 70’s and since then has become extremely popular. He’s won numerous awards and is seen on billboards and in commercials all over India.

I’ve tried to think of an American actor equivalent to Amitabh Bachchan but no one can compare to this man. Denzel and Tom Hanks come close, but even my peers here agree that no one can match Amitabh’s accomplishments within the Indian film industry.

  • Here’s a clip from Slumdog Millionaire, winner of Best Picture in 2009, to reaffirm Amitabh’s fame:

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWEx5gACui8]

Once we stepped foot into the building, we were immediately surrounded by Amitabh Bachchan. Not the actual man, but representations of him through a variety of artwork. At first I thought, he seems full of himself. Later I learned all of the artwork was done by fans!

After a flight of stairs, we knocked on a door and were greeted by Dinaz AND Mira Nair, both of whom are good friends with TG. Yep, my professor has some really awesome friends. However, while I’m getting all giddy again, you’re asking, who is she?

Mira Nair

Mira Nair is a well-known Indian filmmaker based in NYC. A few of her films include Salaam Bombay! (1988), Monsoon Wedding (2001), and The Namesake (2006). Her latest project, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, features Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Hudson, and Liev Schreiber. Our first task actually required us to find actors and actresses for voice-overs for the film.

The biggest smile grew across my face as I reached out my hand to introduce myself to Mira. I was truly pleased to meet her and could only hope to one day be as successful as she. I hope she remembers my name!!!

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And like that, a week has passed; seemingly removing the notion that our stay here in India is a perpetual experience that will last forever; time wise that is. There is no doubt that the collective experiences and memories that we will make over the course of the trip will withstand the one-month time constraint.

And with each passing day, my eyes are continuously opened to new sights and sounds that have expanded my cultural understanding of India. Yesterday (Sunday), all of us took in a showing of “The Avengers,” quite possibly the most dyed in the wool American film currently in theatres at the moment. Heck, one of the heroes in the aforementioned superhero team is named Captain America!

Even though our movie was supposed to begin at 3:45, we actually did not enter the theatre at that exact appointed time. We actually entered around 3:55 or so. This somewhat minor moment serves a cultural demarcation between American and Indian sensibilities. The notion of “Indian Standard Time,” which is an indication of how relaxed in some ways Indian culture can appear to be. The idea of being rigid in regards to starting things on time is somehow not a necessity like it is America.

Once we all ambled into the immense theater (we saw the film on an IMAX screen), we nestled into our plush, comfortable seats, eagerly anticipating being enthralled to what was about to unfold on the massive screen for the next two and a half hours. However, before the movie began, we received even more of a cultural education.

First, we saw a series of advertisements that captured some of the mores and quirks associated with India. For example, we saw a Pepsi ad pitting two crickets against one another in order to obtain the thirst-quenching beverage.

Second, another cultural experience was having the Indian National Anthem play before the film. The video accompanying the anthem was very well produced and showed how much pride Indians have in their country. It was quite illuminating to see a great display of nationalism in a place as mundane as a movie theatre.

Another cultural aberration that separates the U.S. and Indian movie going experience was having an intermission during the film. Of course, there was a time where having intermissions during American films was not unusual. But, as time has worn on, that has fallen out of favor, eschewing that model in order to show the movie completely without a break. I think having a break during the course of a movie in India is somehow an extension of how laid back the culture can be. An afternoon at the movies should last a prolonged amount of time, rather than just existing as an affair that shuffles people in and people out so quickly.

In sum, it’s quite amazing how our experience at the movie theater yesterday served as a cultural barometer. So many different things were on display, showing a different facet of what constitutes Indian mores. Yesterday was proof positive of how going to the movies can serve as an educational experience.

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