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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Masala madness aint half as crazy as my kiddie-imagination!

Yesterday in book-land, I met Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer trying to get rid of their warts by burying a dead cat next to a wicked soul at midnight! Kids are soooo gullible!!! It reminded me of Kanan's cute post on childhood beliefs and my own childhood misconceptions. Here are some examples of my flagrantly filmi flights of fancy:
My earliest memories of filmi songs are of those that emanated from our tiny transistor radio. I was convinced that a miniature army of singers and musicians resided inside the radio and sang all those songs on demand! Of course, once I discovered TV, I was convinced that the same army now resided in there.
Before I discovered “playback” singing, I used to think all actors and actresses sang themselves, and could also sing without moving their lips (this, when I saw a song playing in the background with no lip-sync)! I spent ages in front of the mirror trying to sing with my mouth firmly closed before finally giving up on my ventriloquistic ambitions.

I thought playback singing involved singers and orchestra hiding behind the bushes/trees of the parks where the hero-heroine were dancing-n-singing and often craned my neck to see if I could spot them!
Loved how filmi children always left home on being scolded by their parents, leaving the latter bitterly regretting the scolding. I always wanted to do that, just to show my parents the error of their ways!
I couldnt understand how a filmi character (especially heroines) didnt recognise evil when it came in the shape of Pran or Ranjeet, when even I could see the were VILLAINS! I was also convinced that all the filmi dishoom-dishoom was real and cringed in pain for the hero when he got hit!
Wearing a fancy kathak outfit and dancing in front of paan-chewing men was wrong and made a woman a tawaif and unhappy. If they’d only be allowed to change into a saree or dance in front of women and children…
All those lost-and-found sagas gave me an abiding fear of being lost. In any crowded place I’d cling to the parents for dear life!
As a kid I measured wealth by the number of sweeping red-carpeted stairways rising in the middle of people’s living rooms. Since nobody had even one such stair, I concluded (rightly, in this case) that none of my acquaintances were rich!
This wasnt my flight of fancy, but it could so easily have been. A friend used to sing Qurbani’s famous Aap jaisa koi meri zindagi mein aaye to BAAT ban jaaye (If someone like you entered my life, it would be great) as Aap jaisa koi meri zindagi mein aaye to BAAP ban jaaye (If someone like you entered my life, he’d become a father)!!
Any crazy/funny/weird kiddie fantasies/beliefs you’d like to share? Come on, I’d like to know I wasnt the only one!


  1. Of course, I never got to see Bollywood movies as a young child, but starting at the age of 4 or so, I was watching episodes of I Dream of Jeannie, and if you look at Barbara Eden in that harem outfit, it's not a far jump to Helen in some movies, at least stylistically. Anyway, when I was in my middle single digits, Barbara Eden as Jeannie became my first TV/mass media crush.

    Now, my family was supposedly Jewish, but still my mother liked to tell me and my sister Christian myths like the story of Santa Claus. But we lived in an apartment in The Bronx, so we didn't have a fireplace with a chimney; the heat came to us from a radiator.

    So, when I heard the story of Santa Claus, I changed it in my mind from Santa Claus coming down the chimney to Santa Claus materializing from steam coming out of the radiator like Jeannie coming out of her bottle in I Dream of Jeannie.

  2. Hey there! Aaaww, nostalgia moments.

    Growing up, I always used to think that the stars sang all the songs and that was their voices. I even remember aruging with my parents about that!!

    When I used to watch dub versions of Bollywood films, I kid you not - I used to think that the stars actually spoke Thai! Hahaha! I was so shocked that it wasn't them, lol!!!

    Plus I used to think that movies were finish filming in a few days, hahaha.

    Admitedly, growing up watching Bollywood films, I used to want my prince charming to be sweet and romantic like on screen.

  3. I wanted to be Praveen, with her swishy hair. But I remember also wanting to be Hema- so that Dharam would carry me around in his arms (at 2, I demanded if someone was going to carry me around, it'd have to be dharam-fashion :D)

    "Aap Jaisa Koi" is immortal I think- dancing to it and "Lawaris" songs are my earliest bolly memories.

  4. LOL too cute! I used to think that people in commercials acted the commercial each time it aired. Apparently I didn't discover they were taped till 1st grade. Very sad, I know. ;-)

  5. I love that version of Aap jaisa koi: toooo good!

    I don't think I ever thought singers, musicians et al resided in radios or TVs or even tucked behind trees etc, but I've been told time and again of a major faux pas I made when I must've been about 2 or 3 years old. My grandmother had come to visit, and was a very religious (and orthodox) old lady, who thought films were evil. One day she'd sat me down next to her and was singing hymns to me when I piped up, "Dadi, do you know any songs from Julie?"

    Dear, oh dear. You can imagine what a tirade my mother had to listen to for introducing a toddler to films - not that I had seen Julie (I still haven't, as a matter of fact).

  6. Hey folks, thanks for sharing. I looooove all your stories!

    Richard, I didnt see Jeannie till I moved to North America as an adult but I can totally understand the need to have her come out of your radiator. If it were my kiddie-self, I'd have wanted both Jeannie and Samantha (of Bewitched) around me to do some magic and save me boring chores!

    Nicki, awww thats so sweet! And I dont think I've outgrown the need for a hero-like romantic prince charming, yet! ;-)

    Shweta, even I used to dream of having Parveen-like straight, long hair and always wanted to wear the skinny jeans she'd have on - they're in fashion once again, but I'm not a kid anymore!

    ajnabi, in some old Hollywood movies they actually show radio commercials coming on live. So in your first grade you were just a few decades behind the times!

    dustedoff, :-D Out of the mouths of babes! And Julie at that - it seems to enjoy something of a reputation (I havent seen it either). Did it result in a total ban on your listening to filmi-sangeet?

  7. I had a similar but a bit different experience as a child: For years I was convinced that the city of Buxtehude didn't really exists as it featured in one of my favourite stories about robbers and wizzards. I was ever so surprised to learn that it is a real place.

  8. Hmmm. I'll have to ask my parents next time I call.

    In the meantime, I think it is perfectly appropriate to measure wealth - and taste, obviously - by carpeted staircases, number of people who could sit on the sunken couches, number of copies of Greek sculpture or ceramic horse heads, etc.

  9. Thankfully, I think my grandmother was detached enough from filmland to not know what Julie was all about. Whew! I can imagine the consequences if she had known. But no, filmi sangeet remained an integral part of life, mostly because of my father, who's a confirmed fan! (Ironic, considering his mother's aversion to films. Even more ironic, an elder brother of my father's was a guitarist with Filmistan!)

  10. LOL on this post and all the great comments. Ah, dustedoff, to mention "Julie" of all films! So funny. I love that film and how the family is so trashy, since they're Catholics after all. Julie's short skirts and then drinking whiskey while the records spins on the record player. I need to watch that one again.:D. Like Richard, I was also deprived of Bollywood as a kid, but I too have very warm feeling still about "I Dream of Jeannie." If I ever find myself in a casino, I look for her slot machine. It has Babbara Eden's voice saying "Yeeeees master!" and the steaming bottles landing on the beach. I have an "I Dream of Jeannie" bottle that attaches to my computer that lights up. Haven't used it in a long time, it sits on my dresser for daily viewing though. I must take a photo and do a post on it! Thanks for the memories yaar!

    Here's a little reminder:

    All the best!

    p.s., Beth is completely correct on lavish home decor being a measure of wealth and taste. :) I'll have you know on my recent trip to India I was on the lookout for big, wide central staircases within homes. I didn't see any. Damn movies had me tricked!

  11. gebruss, childhood cynicism! It makes perfect sense though. If magic, and robbers dont exist then their place of abode shouldnt, either!

    Beth, I've stopped using that yardstick but it rears its head everytime I do see sweeping staircases! One case in point was my grad school interviews. I fell in love with a campus in Mumbai that had a main lobby made of Italian marble and hung with original paintings of modern Indian painters. There was even a sweeping marble staircase in the lobby which clinched the matter (not to mention a private seaside lawn that even Taj Hotel cant boast of!) - once selected I refused to check out any other place for grad school!

    dustedoff, its strange how the older generation thought films werent quite the thing yet they all loved filmi music! And your Uncle worked in Filmistan!!! Did he tell you any interesting stories about the films and filmi people there?

    Sita-ji, movies certainly are deceptive. I've lost count of how often people have told me India is a beautiful country and then went on to explain that they've 'seen' India in films! After a lifetime of seeing Mumbai in films I was severely disappointed with the reality myself - till I happened to see Marine Drive at night!

    And yes, to all the Jeannie love (I actually liked her dishy "master" a lot too!). Wish it were around in my childhood.

  12. "And your Uncle worked in Filmistan!!! Did he tell you any interesting stories about the films and filmi people there?"

    Ah, yes! Plenty - some utterly disgusting. But there's one good story regarding Anandmath, which I'm saving up for when I do my review of the film!

  13. Cant wait for the Anandmath review now, for more reasons than one! :-)

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  15. O its too bad Juhi decided to go ahead with her marriage! You need to look for her identical twin who was separated from her at the Kumbh Mela!

    lol at finding Tap Tap Tapori cute. We all had lousy taste as kids! I remember liking a lot of heroes and heroines as a kid, whom I find seriously awful nowadays.

    "a favorite Dharmendra word (beginning with 'H' and ending in 'I'), usually followed by 'Main tera khoon pi jaaonga', LOL, which I thought meant someone who does something that's 'haraam' :o)"

    I hate to admit this, but I still subscribe to your childhood views! My knowledge of Hindi swear-words is pitiably small. :-(

  16. theBollywoodFan: Your comment about the H--I word reminded me of a hilarious incident when I went to watch Sarfarosh in a theatre when it was released. Towards the climax, when Aamir Khan's character and Naseeruddin Shah's character are flinging abuses at each other, the H- word was used. The audience was utterly silent, and suddenly a child's voice rings out in the dark, loud and clear: "Mamma, what's a H--I?"

    That broke up the tension in a jiffy! Somehow I always associate Sarfarosh with that, now.

  17. Hi,
    What a cute post! It was really entertaining reading it :)
    I'm with - we are a large and growing (500,000+ visitors per month) website focused on movies and celebrities - our Bollywood homepage is at We would love to add you into our blog roll and explore more ways of tapping into your expertise if you are interested.
    Look forward to hearing from you!
    Thanks! :)

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  19. I have no idea! What beats me is why his parents brought him along; by the time we went to see the film, it'd been around for quite a while - definitely at least a week - so everybody knew what it was about, and that it was too violent for a kid that small...

    Which reminds me, we went to see The Beginning of Batman (was that what it was called? I've forgotten; Christian Bale as Batman, the first time). Two rows ahead of us was this little kid who'd come with his Dad and didn't know any English. What's more, he was taking a very active interest in the film, so Dad had to translate everything for him. And then comes this scene - very charged - in which the main character's girlfriend is driving him back from court after he's been accused of murder. There's an altercation of sorts and she slaps him. Pin drop silence in the hall, little kid gasps: "Ooooi! Thhappad maar diya!" Lots of stifled giggles all around. Another slap. Another horrified gasp from kid. "Phir maar diya!!!"

    That Batman film remains my favourite to this day! :-)

  20. dustedoff, your movie watching experiences have been hilarious. Sarfarosh is the H--i movie and Batman is the guy who gets thhapads! rofl

    Chandra Singh, thanks! You are welcome to add me to your blog roll, but, what exactly do you mean by "tapping into your expertise"?

    theBollywoodFan, my Hindi vocabulary is woefully short on swear words and the few that I do know, I dont always realise the true meaning of! Thats what comes of watching mostly old movies and speaking Hindi only with the family. :-(

  21. Couldn't hold my laugh when i was reading your post.Mind blowing.

  22. I used to love and adore Mithun, i thought he was the greatest thing since Sliced bread + i used to think it was actually the actors singing as well. And when someone died in a movie i used to wonder how come they were acting in another one, since they had been killed in one...Lol

    Little me used to feel like an Hindi speaker just cause i could say Nahinnn, and choto mujhe

    And this one really used to irritate my Aunt, i used to get up and try to do all the moves to the songs, like i really used to be on it, trying to reenact the dances at exactly the right time as the actresses

  23. bollyviewer can you please tell me what Dharmendra film the 'main tera khoon pi jaunga' is from, i'm dying to find out also what's H...I


  24. Crazy on Bollywood, thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

    bollywooddeewana, thats interesting. I thought the death scenes in the end were real but I never wondered why the actors showed up again in other movies - very willing suspension of disbelief, I guess! I never tried to dance-sync with songs but I did always want to cry and sing simultaneously. :-D

    "Kameene (or H***i), main tera khoon pi jaaonga (Scoundrel/b***d, I will drink your blood) was Dharamendra's signature dialogue and appeared in a lot of his 70s and 80s movies. It was so common that it gave rise to the joke that his kids were scared of being labeled Dracula's kids!