Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tehelka on non-Indian fans of Bollywood

Tehelka, a magazine devoted to Indian news and culture, has published a really delightful story by Nisha Susan on Western fans of Bollywood films. "The Mems and Saabs of Berlin" (and the US, and Korea, and the web) justly devotes most of its space to true Bollywood experts like Beth Loves Bollywood and Memsaab. In the final paragraph Susan included a quote from my post Why I love Bollywood; I'm honored to be included in such company, but I feel a bit out of place. Memsaab reports seeing over 600 Indian films; we're approaching 100, and I feel like we've barely scratched the surface (simply to see Shah Rukh Khan's entire body of work you'd have to watch 60 movies, and we've only seen 35 of them).

Before this, I was unfamiliar with Tehelka (whose name is apparently an Urdu word signifying "the tumult provoked by a daring act"). But its website banner offers supportive quotes from writers Khushwant Singh (Train to Pakistan) and Arundhati Roy (God of Small Things), which would be recommendation enough. If you need any more encouragement, the Wikipedia article on Tehelka mentions that it was shut down by the government after it reported on corruption in the awarding of arms contracts, and that another investigative series has shown the complicity of the state government of Gujurat in the mass killings of Muslims there in 2002. If you're interested in the culture and politics of India--home of something like 1 out of every 6 people on the planet--it looks like essential reading. I know I'll be bookmarking it.


  1. Truly a great name for a publication. Their coverage of the Gujurat killings was already recommended to me elsewhere. A lovely - if strange - honor to be in their umbrella.

  2. It is a great magazine, I've been reading it for a few weeks now. Very good journalism!

    And a fun article!

    Pessimisissimo, two things:
    1) if you have a full life you probably don't have TIME to watch the number of films I have :-D (also, it has taken me almost 6 years to do so) and
    2) that quote of yours is sublime. I always fear that Indians will think I'm making fun of them/their films (and in fact some do ask me if I am) and the way you address that is just perfect.

  3. Beth, very well put. I too feel honored to be associated (even tangentially) with this courageous publication.

    Memsaab, as for 1), since I work nearly full-time and attend school nearly full-time, my life is a bit too full these days. (And we'd make more progress in investigating Bollywood classics if I didn't re-watch my favorite films over and over...) Regarding 2), your kind words are deeply appreciated.