On my recent vacation that just concluded, one of the main items in my agenda was to meet my cousin. She is happily married, has three kids; and her only complaint was that I did not go to her house in Mumbai the last seven years. It was true that I was flying via Mumbai most of the time, but the problem was managing time. Normally, I take the flight from the Gulf to Mumbai and my onward flight to Mangalore was four hours after reaching Mumbai. My cousin’s place was far off from the International airport and I needed minimum of five hours to visit her. Invariably I end up calling her from the Airport and not visiting her. While coming back, normally I traveled alone leaving my family behind to enjoy longer holidays in India and as any other relative, my cousin wanted me to visit her with my entire family!
This time it was a surprise. She was in Bangalore as her husband had recently retired. They went to Bangalore six months ago and were trying to settle down in Bangalore. "Do not tell me stories… come down with the family" that was her order. Naturally so. She had seen me from childhood. She knew all pranks I could play. I had no alternative but to obey. When I was small boy, she was like my second mother – my mother used to leave me in her custody whenever she could not take me along.
We dropped in at her place, she was very happy. Her husband was always a busy person. He was successful in building a group of retired people like him, and busy trying to fix the local issue of garbage piling. "Today, garbage is more important for me than you. I will try to get back as soon as possible" said the retired judge in a jovial mood, begged my pardon and went away.
My cousin had married off her daughter, first son was studying engineering at Mumbai and the second son was studying plus one. Her second son was at home when we visited. He was too old for my kids to play with and my kids anyway play on their own in any place. My cousin was talking to my wife in the kitchen and both were also busy cooking in tandem.
I was left with no company and so was my cousin’s son. I had seen him as a cute little seven year old boy long back, but now he is a grown up. While I had nothing to do, he was made to sit with me even though, may be, he had many things to do had we not visited.
I am used to this kind of situation almost on each vacation. I would be going to meet somebody, but since that person is stuck with some important work, end up talking to somebody else in his house. Most of the time, people around are good in keeping company and we are never short of issues – price rise, politics, corruption, Iraq and US – everyone is an expert in their own right. Some of them talk as if they could be advisors to Manmohan Singh or George Bush. Occasionally, I get into situations like this – sitting with someone without knowing likely issue of common interest.
We both tried to get used to one another. I asked about his hobbies, his friends, about his new school in Bangalore.. All questions got me prompt reply but the conversation ended then and there. There has to be an issue of common interest and I thought I found one.
"You think we could win first Twenty20 cup?"
"Please… no cricket, I hate cricket… I hate our cricketers… they do not win, do not allow others to play…" my new found nephew straightaway put an end to my sincere efforts to keep it going by uttering a few words which our Cricket Board will never digest.
I had one more thought. How about films? Amitabh Bachchan… But may be Amitabh is a bit old for him. May be Sharukh or Hrithik should be fine I thought. I was about to open the topic.
"Do you get to see Hindi films in Dubai?" The boy asked me. May be he was tired of sitting with me without a conversation. May be he pitied my situation. May be he was curious to know?
That was it. We had at least one common topic!
"Yes. We get mainly English and Hindi films there" I told
"So you can see a lot of Hindi movies"
"I do not watch Hindi movies." I told him the fact.
"Why?" the boy found it perplexing
"For three reasons – I have no time, it’s quite expensive and I do not enjoy them" I replied.
"I can understand the first two? but don’t tell me you can not enjoy. Tell me you want to see only English movies, I can understand. All those Indians abroad want to show that they are modern" the boy got into a complaining mood.
I looked at myself and looked at him. I was wearing the white dhoti and a long shirt (jubba). I was wearing this as I intended to be so, at least when I was in India. He was in a bermuda and Nike T-shirt; had all sorts of chains around his neck and a tattoo in his arm. Going by the looks, he looked more like someone who had just landed from the US. More than all these, he was about fifteen and I was about thrice his age and without any inhibitions, he is taking the entire NRI fraternity to task!
"Look at me, look at yourself? Your dress? It is not us who want to be like westerners… You guys in India want to be so?" I wanted to shout at him but didn’t. I did not want to lose his company at any cost!
He caught me silent. "Tell me what I told is true? isn’t it? That is the truth and sach hamesha kadvaa lagtha hai, haina?" he delivered a standard Hindi film dialogue as well!
I felt amused. I remembered the debate competitions during my college days. The arguments we used to make so convincingly on any subject – both in favour and against! I thought I will have a debate on this issue with him. Anyway I do not have any other job you see!
"Given a chance, I would rather watch an English movie" I started off in style. "There is quality. They use the best of the technology, equipments and locations. The best of the actors will be hired. You feel that it’s happening right in front of your eyes. What is there in Hindi cinema? Same old stories… hero and heroine singing in park, in beach in Goa, in Srinagar, trouble in getting married, fights, and then finally, happy ending. Mostly all copied from Hollywood"
I followed the same old debating principle – praise your side first and then pull down the opposite side.
He did not expect this from me. For a second, he looked surprised but he recovered quickly.
"Uncle? I do not know which time you are referring to. Probably you are assuming that the things are same as you saw two decades back when you left India. You have not seen the recent movies. Things have changed long back. Do you know these days the movies made in Hindi are copied by others? Celebrated Hollywood actors are longing to act in Hindi movies? Do you know Hollywood directors are begging our Hindi actors like Amitabh, Aishvarya, and Shilpa Shetty to act in their movies?" He shot back.
?Not bad’ I thought. He has mastered the debating style very well. Show as if your opponent is not up to date with facts. Show that you have facts and figures to prove your credentials. He has done exactly that!
"Hollywood people want to get into bollywood because they want to capture huge Indian market. They want to use a few Indians so that our film crazy people flock to the theatres" I told something I had read as my own authoritative research statement.
"Exactly? they want our people to see English movies? they want Hindi movie industry to suffer but, we Indians should not allow that to happen"
I appreciated his concern. I wanted him to feel that he has won. So I decided to take it easy, but did not want to give up completely.
"I agree on that point…but Hindi film industry has to improve further if it wants to take on Hollywood" I put up a soft comment.
"Uncle I would like to show you how things have improved. Tell my mom that you want to take me for the movie ?Chak de India’ in the afternoon. She will say no first, but you insist. I hope she will agree and we can have a nice time." In his eyes I could see him hoping that his plan succeeds!
I liked the way he was trying to put the trap around me and decided to yield to his simple "support bollywood" request!
About the Author:
Author: Gopinath Rao- UAE