<%-- Page Title--%> Musings <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 130 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

November 14, 2003

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All Things Bollywood

Nadia Kabir Barb

In the last couple of years, the west seems to have fallen in love with everything Bollywood especially in Britain. Nowadays wherever you look there is definitely an “ethnic” flavour to almost everything. The shops on the high street are filled with our short Kurtas, deshi jewellery, and even bindis and bangles are found with relative ease. The advent of films such as Lagaan, Bend it Like Beckham, The Guru, and Devdas have truly whetted the appetite of the British population with the highly charged drama, vibrancy of colour and even the tongue in cheek humour that is prevalent in many of these films. “Bombay Dreams” a musical on stage is a joint collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and A. R. Rahman has proved to be an immense success.

The latest of these films to hit the big screen was “Bollywood Queen”. Starring Priya Kalidas (Bombay Dreams) and directed by James Wooding. Working in their East End sari shop, 19 year old Geena (Priya Kalidas) wishes she was a Bollywood movie star. Meanwhile, Jay (James McAvoy) appears on the scene - sent to work for a rival company by his racist brother. It is a well-worn tale of star-crossed lovers, hampered by their different cultures and family opposition, but it is all delivered with a light touch. The lead performances are charming and the musical interludes (in true Bollywood style) keep the story lively.

Having been invited to the post launch party for Bollywood Queen, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to accept the invitation. The dress code for the party was “Bollywood Glam”. The exact meaning of this was a total mystery to me. Was it Devdas style saris with heavy work and jewellery or Kareena Kapoor hipsters and sequinned top! Did the men have to go in a white suit and shoes Jeetendra style or sherwani and dopatta draped casually around their necks? However, we just played it safe and I opted for an embroidered kurta and trousers (glitzy enough for me) and my husband went in everyday shirt and trousers (no glitz or glam there for sure!). There were nine of us in our group and we congregated in front of the Yatra Club where the launch was being held. The process of getting in was a bit laborious as only four people at a time were allowed in and the lady at the desk checked the list for our names and ticked them off having identified each person as they entered.

Set in the heart of Mayfair, the Yatra is somewhat of a “trendy” Indian restaurant. From what I could gather from the low and atmospheric lighting, the Yatra manages to create a pleasant ambience with its orange walls, granite surfaces, a choice of high or low seating and a feng-shuically correct waterfall in the middle of the restaurant. Despite arriving at 10 o'clock, we were still early enough to commandeer a table and settle in for the rest of the evening and observe and absorb the atmosphere around us. This was strategically an ideal situation as we were later privy to a Bollywood dance routine performed by dance instructor Vandana Alimchandani and two of her students. We had a very good view (they were right next to us) and were suitably impressed with the perfectly timed “jhatkas” and “matkas” and fluid hand and body movements made by the trio.

There was Indian music blaring from the speaker which was at times very filmi and at times more eclectic. The crowd was also a very mixed one a nice blend of deshi and non deshi guests. Around 11 o'clock, Priya Kalidas made an appearance accompanied by co-star Raza Jaffery from “Bombay Dreams”. Dressed in a black suit, it was almost possible to miss the actress amidst the colourfully clad sea of women around her. However that was only briefly as the photographers compensated for our lack of recognition. A VJ from Zee Music was then pointed out as well a few new actors from television drama serials broadcast in the UK. The rest of the evening was spent “mingling” and then finally just sitting at our table enjoying the company of friends. On our way out, ladies were given a CD of the new soundtrack from Bollywood Queen. The night had been a less formal event than I had envisaged but for that reason probably a more enjoyable one.


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