I’m Afraid He’s Gone Bollywood… Spotting Symptoms of Indian Cinema Frenzy
By Annie Cooper
If you’ve been living in Los Angeles for any reasonable amount of time, say, longer than it takes to visit the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum or drive through an In-N-Out Burger, you have surely been witness to at least one of your friends succumbing to the upsetting phenomenon knows as “Going Hollywood”.
This occurs when an otherwise normal individual begins to consider quarterly Botox injections a reasonable investment, regularly attends exclusive nightclub events sponsored by vodka companies on Wednesdays, and becomes virtually unreachable via telephone unless the caller is an agent or psychic advisor.
As unsettling as “Going Hollywood” is, an even more disturbing trend has begun to surface: Going Bollywood. If you know anyone slipping into this condition, you’re in good company. The employees at Fair Trade Bank, the endearingly dysfunctional workplace featured in KoldCast’s TV comedy series That’s So Awesome, are in dire need of understanding what’s happening to their sweet cowowker, Asim.
You are watching Episode 1 of That’s So Awesome, “Holy Cow”
For all his earnest trying, Asim (pronounced “Ah-sim”, like The Sims game, with a satisfied “Aaaah” in front of it), a recent immigrant from Pakistan, is having a rough time adjusting to life in the U.S. of A. He finds his only respite in the Bollywood movies from his youth. All would be well and good if their sweeping romances, curveball storylines, and over-the-top musical numbers weren’t permeating his less-than-stellar real life.
Perhaps you have a friend, loved one, or psychic advisor who has been caught covertly watching Mohammad Rafi clips during Sunday Night Football or overheard humming Slumdog Millionaire’s “Jai Ho” while clipping their toenails. Stay vigilant, keep your local multiplex on speed dial, and commit the following list of Indian Cinema Frenzy Symptoms to memory:
They Spontaneously Burst Into Song
As a general rule, all Bollywood films are musicals. The music is so popular that the soundtrack is often released and played on commercial radio well before the film itself. Sometimes, the musical numbers serve to help move the plot along, to build exposition, or provide background. Other times, they just… happen.
It might be a dream sequence or hallucination, maybe some sort of inner soliloquy, or it might just be an elaborate production that happens apropos of nothing, often couched as a stage show or cabaret act. At any rate, if your friend begins to look wistfully out the window while you’re having lunch, and then suddenly pops up from the table and commences to shake her thang this-wise, you might want to be concerned about more than who’s going to pick up the check.
When They Open their Mouth, Someone Else’s Voice Comes Out
Bollywood stars very, very rarely sing for themselves. More often, their songs are recorded by “playback singers”, with the film actors then lip-synching their performances. Far from being a source of shame for studios or actors, playback artists are featured in film credits along with actors, and are considered stars in their own right, with fan bases and successful recording careers in addition to their film work. So, you might have serious cause for concern if your loved one sounds like he looks like this but actually looks like this:
Facial Hair and General Chest-Baring
These two symptoms often go hand in hand. Regardless of the degree, they’re staples of any far east machismo Bollywood star. For a while, it looked like moustaches were part of a downward trend, but now they’re thankfully coming back in style. That’s preferable in Bollywood, but unless your friend is contemplating a career in law enforcement or pornography, chest baring and ‘stache sporting is a no-go. Time to call his mother.
It Takes 3 1/2 hours, Plus Intermission, to Tell a Fairly Simple Story
Bollywood audiences insist on getting their money’s worth. A decent, well-received movie is expected to have it all: action, comedy, music, romance, intrigue, fantasy, and usually a well-choreographed fight, like the one below from the great Adhisaya Piravi. You can’t fit all that into 90 minutes, people! If your half-day brunch convos are suddenly making you reconsider ever asking your friend how her day went again, acute Bollywood exposure might be the culprit.
They’re Suddenly Involved with Bandits and Love Triangles
Bandits. You may think they went out of style when train robbery fell out of fashion in the late 1800s, but you would be wrong. Indian bandits have been around for decades and are currently living in Bollywood films, waiting to complicate the lives of star-crossed lovers, hapless villagers, and well-meaning heroes across the subcontinent.
And love triangles? Fuhgettaboudit. Audiences wouldn’t have wept nearly as hard at Kal Ho Naa Ho, were it not for the heartbreaking plight of Naina-Aman-Rohit. And what would Lagaan, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, and described as an “epic sports romance drama musical”, have been without Bhuvan-Ghauri-Elizabeth? Nothing but an epic sports drama musical, that’s what. But that doesn’t make triangular love acceptable or practical in daily life.
Call Dr. Drew, and also maybe Tim Gunn, Gordon Ramsay, and the judges from So You Think You Can Dance: it’s time for an intervention.
Annie Cooper is a writer, armchair public transportation advocate, and aspiring taco critic. She has written columns and specialized training materials related to children with special needs, parenting issues, and early childhood development. Her writings are geared toward therapists, social workers, and teachers of young children with complex medical and developmental issues. She recently left her job in social services in an effort to become part of the problem, rather than the solution. Annie lives in Los Angeles, but she’s not from there – nobody’s from there.