Here’s a write up from a Koimoi Reader, who is based in Overseas. Read on:

So you ask yourself what does a middle aged Jewish woman know about Bollywood? I originally hail from Cape Town, South Africa and my only link to anything remotely Indian was the fact that we had a large population in South Africa who were brought over in the late 1800’s by the British colonials as indentured labourers to work the sugarcane fields. My interest then was in Gandhi as the first Indian who brought about the awareness of the colour divide and inequality in South Africa. Mahatma Gandhi or Gandhiji (as he is fondly known) and Nelson Mandela are my heroes for what they were able to achieve through peace and forgiveness. It is a pity that this world has not heeded and emulated their wise leadership.


I have always enjoyed watching foreign movies as I do have a background in languages, movies in Spanish, French, Hebrew and Arabic were amongst the foreign movies that I frequently watched. However I had never watched or been exposed to the Bollywood genre as yet. My daughter’s boyfriend, an American Hindustani, when watching the movie The Great Gatsby told me that the “Jew” in the movie was portrayed by none other than one of THE most famous Indians actors – Amitabh Bachchan.

Amitabh Bachchan in a still from movie 'The Great Gatsby'
Amitabh Bachchan in a still from movie ‘The Great Gatsby’

I first started watching Bollywood movies not so very long ago in 2013. My introduction was Bride and Prejudice a movie my brother had watched and said that I would enjoy. This was a Bollywood-style movie filmed primarily in English and in England, UK. I loved the movie and looked up Aishwarya Rai and found out that she was in many movies and that she had been Miss India and Miss World. I then watched GURU. I loved the epic movie and really liked Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. This catapulted me to continue watching various Bollywood movies. Refugee with Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor was wonderful too. I even succumbed to watching Kahaani on YouTube without English subtitles. I became obsessed with watching these colorful, dramatic, emotional tales with music that made you what to get up and join in the dancing and frivolity. I will not mention every movie I have watched because there are too many. Since I have been unemployed, Bollywood movies and music have kept me sane and given me the will to continue each day. I will however mention the movies and actors that I love the most. SRK (Shah Rukh Khan) is my most favourite but I will leave my interest in him for my last comments.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan in a 'GURU' movie poster
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan in a ‘GURU’ movie poster

Movies that I have loved are: New York – John Abraham and Katrina Kaif – I enjoyed this take on post 9/11 profiling and how a perfectly Americanized Hindustani becomes a terrorist; Madras Café – John Abraham – based on a true story this movie really brings home the tremendous amount of terrorism that India deals with constantly; Dhoom 2 – Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan – loved the James Bondian style that they both portrayed; Dhoom 3 – Aamir Khan & Katrina Kaif – the tremendous physical action and ability of both of these actors was absolutely superb. Loved the story line and the fact that it was filmed in Chicago; PK – Aamir Khan – this movie so aptly portrayed that religion today is being abused by as what PK calls – the agents of God. It was funny, but drove home the message of love and peace and belief in the one and only God Himself.; Guzaarish – Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai – Hrithik Roshan was absolutely amazing portraying a paraplegic in this moving drama; Rani Mukerji delivered a very powerful message in the movie Mardaani. There are many more, but I think that for this article these are my most favourite of non SRK movies.

Uday Chopra, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan and Bipasha Basu in a still from 'Dhoom 2' movie poster
Uday Chopra, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan and Bipasha Basu in a still from ‘Dhoom 2’ movie poster

Now on to my favourite hero – SRK – Sharukhji, if I may be so bold as to call you that or Sharukh Bhai: I have tried to watch as many SRK movies as possible since I am catching up. If Bollywood was considered a religion and Sharukhji its agent, it’s no wonder that so many people follow him. As its agent Sharukhji you spread love and tolerance. We are blinded by how much love you give your fans world over.

Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in a still from movie 'Chennai Express'
Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in a still from movie ‘Chennai Express’

For the most part what started off as a passing interest for me, blossomed into a desire, a passion so strong to see as much of SRK as possible. I used to scour YouTube at night while lying in bed, not being able to sleep and see what was available to watch on SRK. I watched all of his interviews, his performances at the various award ceremonies, the funny takes with Farah Khan and Priyanka Chopra etc. I just couldn’t get enough of him and it didn’t matter if I didn’t understand – just seeing him was good enough to make me feel better. His message to the ordinary person is so powerful – “don’t underestimate the power of the common man”! (Chennai Express). But what has attracted me most is his simplicity and intelligence as a normal human being. His goodness and humility – being such a huge star has not affected him as many Hollywood stars are affected. As SRK says in his autobiography – Stars spend the first half of their careers trying to get noticed and the second half hiding from the public. He says he loves been noticed and he loves bringing smiles to people’s faces. That’s the motto of his acting career and it shows.

Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan in a still from 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge' movie poster
Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan in a still from ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ movie poster

SRK is criticized for everything that he does, but one must realize that many people are jealous of his success and stardom. He came from nothing and built himself to be the biggest star in Bollywood. I would love nothing more than to help continue to spread his stardom to the world, who I feel will be much richer by getting to know him and seeing all of his movies. He is one of the most versatile actors I have ever seen. He can melt your heart just by that one look – like the one he gives Meera in Jab Tak Hai Jaan from across the dance floor, egging her on to go dance and let go. He makes you want to be in his arms too when holding Kajol in DDLJ. You know that his strength of character will protect you with his undying love forever. Playing a person with Asperger’s syndrome in My Name Is Khan is one of his most moving and poignantly acted role I have seen him in. It must have been extremely difficult for him to portray this role and yet he did it with aplomb and strength of pure acting. He says that Kajol is so beautiful (which she is and undoubtedly I agree with him), that she does not have to do much and she gets the message across powerfully. He says that he overacts, but in this role he was superb! Not only did he brilliantly portray the character with Asperger’s syndrome but the way he delivered the message – “My name is Khan – Kh – from the epiglottis – and I’m not a terrorist!” with such conviction. To me as a Jew in this day and age when we thought that one Holocaust was enough, the world does not learn from history and many Holocausts are being perpetuated around the world in the name of religion and giving Islam a reputation that is hard to reverse. Here comes SRK with the message that Islam is a peaceful religion as long as it is used correctly and not violently. Ashoka was another incredibly beautifully made movie – SRK and Kareena Kapoor. The scene of the song San Sanana is so incredibly sexy when he is watching her and the part where he is eyeing her in the water. SRK does not need to strip or show any nudity to feel that he is making love to you. He does it with his touch and his eyes. He is wonderfully expressive and I just want him to take me in his arms and hug me so that I know I will be loved forever by this man. In Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi his dual role shows his versatility. The patience he shows with his wife who eventually falls in love with him for who he is, shows again that an ordinary man can get the love of the woman he desires. I enjoy his movies so much that I often watch them over and over. They reduce me to tears or make me laugh so that my tummy aches or my heart swell with love. After watching one of his movies, I feel I can tackle the world. He gives power back to the common man/woman.

Even in his many interviews he shows his extreme humility, intelligence and humour which I have come to enjoy very much.

In conclusion, SRK has become my obsession and I can’t wait for his next movie FAN to come out. His ability to be funny, romantic, a fighter for love or just a common man is what I love about Shah Rukh Khan.

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