This story took place in October/November 2003. It marks the discovery of Indian films for me, but not the beginning of a more active obsession; the first year after this, I didn't watch all that many movies, less than ten in fact. It obviously describes the feelings I had as an utter newbie, not how I see Indian films nowadays (or even how I see K3G nowadays!).
NEVER SKIP CLASS - OR, A FATEFUL BRUSH WITH K3G
It all started in music class - the only compulsory music course we had in high school. It was a Friday morning in autumn; the mornings were dark and getting colder. I remember thinking about staying at home, to skip the morning class. Music class was pretty pointless, since there was no exam; missing a lesson would hardly harm me.
But skipping lessons is bad and so I dragged myself to school. Our lessons were held in the school hall, where there was musical equipment, a video projector and a screen. Our teacher told us that since we'd been learning about Indian music, and Indian classical music at that, today she'd show us "Indian film music", which was basically Indian popular music. The lights went off and she started the film, using the video projector and the screen.
What appeared in front of our eyes was a scene from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham: a woman and man speaking about family values. The quality of the film wasn't the best; it seemed to have been taped from some TV network because there were these odd commercials at one corner of the screen. They bugged me for the first 10 minutes, then I focused on the story.
To be honest, it made no sense. First they show this guy, who's really good at cricket and then he visits some grannies and then there's this other guy, who comes home and meets his family, makes fun of his fat brother, the usual. I heard snickering around me. This girl I was sitting next to was really amused at people dancing. I guess I was pretty amused at that point, too. During the scene where Kajol dances after finding out India has won the cricket match, she whispered in my ear, "What pills have these people taken?" I don't think I'll ever forget that, because it describes so well what people who see Bollywood for the first time and don't fall in love with it, think.
I'm not sure if other people have certain scenes that were turning points for their Bollywood obsession - something that kicked it off, that made them think, "I want to see more of this." For me, however, it must've been all the Kajol/SRK scenes in the first hour of K3G. They could create these unforgettable scenes that were hilarious, cute, romantic, hot, anything really. It was like nothing I'd seen in any romantic film ever. The character interaction just stunned me. I didn't even care when the narrative became suddenly and completely illogical - abruptly transitioning to Egypt for a song, with Kajol's sari colour changing nearly every time I blinked.
Our class ended in 75 minutes, so I had no idea what the cricket player had to do with the plot, but I knew I had to get more of it, see the end of the film. I raved about this clip to all my friends during lunch. By the same time next week, I had seen all of K3G. I hadn't liked the ending so much, the disco scenes and everything were kind of boring to me, but by that time I had already found BollyWHAT.com and read the site's list of recommendations. So by then I wanted to see Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (and the list goes on and on). Since this is Bollywood, I've still got loads of films to see - loads of crucial, classic films and plenty of new ones to look forward to.
It's funny, to think though, if I'd just stayed in bed that morning...
One of my eventual goals is to give the music teacher a Bollywood DVD as a thanks and to make sure future students won't have to watch as crappy a copy as our class did! Any tips on what films you think would a) showcase Indian popular filmi music really well and b) hook future fans?