Mumbai to LA….. flying back home again! Having lived the local life these last few months, in this little bubble of gentrified Bombay suburbia aka Bandra, it has now forever become just as much a part of my system as the little slice of paradise I am lucky to call home for the last sixteen years. I know I will thrill at the familiar sight of the much photographed Santa Monica Pier lit up against the night sky even as I miss a glimpse of the jagged Bombay skyline viewed from a moving car with the serpentine bend of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link across the water, on a clear day. A glorious Southern California sunset over Malibu while navigating the endless crawl of traffic on Pacific Coast Highway beside crashing waves, may bring back memory of the early morning glow of a languid sun slowly rising above the sea-face of a smoggy Mumbai in mid-winter. And just like that, one might begin to wonder – having lived, by most standards, a rootless existence, without much room for attachment – about the meaning of a little word called “Home”…. wherever that may be.
/ Tags: LA
[Statutory Warning - The following may be inflammable in nature]
Had the most interesting conversation with a taxi driver as he drove me through Bombay traffic. While on the single most popular subject in this town – cinema – he classified one of the most influential stars in mainstream Bollywood today, one who commands rarefied salaries – as no more than a “performing monkey” !!… (his words, not mine). This from “the man on the street”……
It is understood the stars make these films because they do not wish to re-invent the wheel of supply and demand dictated by the average Indian movie goer – the man on the street – who apparently alleviates his seven day work week and the soul-crushing burden of a thing called life in this city, with a little taste of heaven. The star transports him/her to a fantasy dual life by enabling connection to a piece of aspirational magic woven by a larger than life character on the giant screen before the little people in the theater. That little man (or woman) evidently sets the trend of Bollywood masala films year after year and ensures astronomical box office receipts that reinforce this established truth. But this comment from my “man on the street” had me thinking. What makes him dare to run contrary to “universal taste” and express his undisguised disgust at what he perceives as lack of talent on the part of one of the reigning monarchs of Bollywood? Is he the lone one swimming against the current, OR is he the emerging face of discerning taste in a jungle of creative mayhem, I like to call Mumbai Masala? I wonder….