Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bollywood Books!

I was thinking the other day, my son would go 'uh oh'!. Maybe all you out there would appreciate a couple of books that help me decide what movies to watch, or not watch.!!

Well, one of the first books I got that gave me an idea of which movies to choose and why--if they were big hits, pathbreakers--was a slim little book "The Essential Guide to Bollywood" by Subhash K. Jha. This little book gives a timeline of movies, the big actors, directors, playback singers. It not only has historical information about the movie industry, it gives great little reviews that tell you why a movie he mentions is worth the watching, what to look for, and many other great bits of information. I am not sure if this was the very first Bollywood book I ever purchased, but I have found it very useful--I often thumb thru it and find new information at each successive reading.

One of the other important books I use to choose movies, not only because I respect as a scholar of films as well as history, is "100 Bollywood Films" by Rachel Dwyer. She lists movies alphabetically, gives historical information as well and gives her opinion. I love the fact that she lists "Dil Chata Hai" as her guilty pleasure movie and then proceeds to give all sorts of information as to why this movie is so very different. I do believe I got this book after I read her book on the social implications of Hindi films "All you want is money, all you need is love: Sex and romance in modern India". This book seems bit of stretch from film study, but it discusses how film has influenced many parts of modern Indian society--but more on this and other scholarly books on Hindi film on a later posting!!

My newest acquisition, a book I have lusted after for some time, but was able to purchase for Rs 150 from an Indian bookdealer!! (that is about $3 and with shipping from India with a bunch of other books, was not too bad!) This book, by Penguin India has the best cover--which is not why I bought it, the cover that is shown on Amazon is pretty mundane, is a lovely photo of a stall that has paintings of Bollywood movie posters for sale--this nifty street art is very popular in India and has been studied by scholars as a way to look at how art and religion and culture is desciminated to the masses(oops sorry, starting to sound like a class). Back to the book--it is simply called "Bollywood" by Ashok Banker who is a well respected movie critic. His chatty style does remind you of reviews, but his scholarship and insight is wonderful. He groups the movies in catagories--chapter headings give all away! "Silent Screamers, Singing in the Train,The Sound of Masti, The Poetry of Pain" . I could give them all away--but that would keep you from wanting to read about them!!

From these books, reviews on various Bollywood websites, Times of India reviews and lots of other places, I then decide what to rent-what to find in a theater near me--what to own. What to own usually involves Shahrukh Khan!!! But that is an entirely other blog entry!!

When I give reviews of movies here, these are some of the resources I rely on--as well as Wikipedia entries on their Bollywood film list--from these places I get information and translation of titles etc. When I want translations of lyrics to the songs--for I have become as obsessive about the music as the Indian movie going public, I rely on the website Bollywhat? for that information.
When I do a posting on websites, I will go into more detail, but let it be said--this site was one of the first I found and have grown to respect. I have finally stopped 'lurking' on the outskirts of this sites forum, and have begun to comment and ask questions as the "Bollyenabler"! In this format, I may request translation of lyrics from native speakers, information on cultural references and just dream about the next Shahrukh Khan movie!

Well, this post has gotten way too long--so, I will contemplate a post about websites for my next entry-until that time, Namaste and 'come fall in love' with Bollywood!


  1. I (Misstanbul) have found your blog through Ravelry and LOVE reading what you have to say. I think we have very similar tastes (anything SRK please ;) and seem to read/watch things along the same lines. The Jha and Dwyer books are musts. I newly acquired "Bollywood: a guidebook to popular Hindi Cinema" by Tejaswini Ganti, "Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire" by Vijay Mishra, and "Indian Popular Cinema: a narrative of cultural change" by Gokulsing and Dissanayake. I have started them yet and was wondering if you have read any of them? ~Namaste~

  2. charbar137-I have plenty of Bollywood books to dicuss later! Including books on the music, the internationality of the films, social impact! I did not want to get too heavy too soon. More to come!