t started randomly for each of
Carla Levy of Boston — a fan
of world music — picked up a
CD of R D Burman’s composi-
tions. The first song she played was
Dum Maro Dum.
She played it a
couple of times, mesmerized by the
rhythm and the composition.
“I just loved it and fell in love with
Asha Bhosle.,” Levy says. “I wanted
to learn more about where the songs
were coming from and that is when
I realized these were songs from
movies that I could go and watch.”
Maria Giovanna, of Jersey City had
occasionally seen Indian news and
entertainment programs on Satur-
day mornings. But while she was vis-
iting her mother on Long Island, she
saw a commercial for Subhash Gh-
The film was playing nearby in
Hicksville. She felt she had to go,
and was “astounded” by the film.
Looking back she realizes that some
parts of the films were strange, per-
haps even objectionable, but from
then on she was addicted to Hindi
“It’s like what they describe with
heroin,” Giovanna says. “Once you
take it, the feeling is so pleasurable
that you want more and more.”
At some point thereafter she dis-
covered Govinda. “It was all over
after that,” she says with a laugh.
Beth Watkins, now a resident of
Urban-Champaign, recalls watching
occasional Hindi film songs on a
community channel while she was
student in Toronto.
“I had no idea what I was watch-
ing,” she says. “But it was a lot of fun.
That was my first concept of what
Indian cinema was like. It was very
Later Watkins found herself in the
Indian film section of an interna-
tional DVD rental store in Urbana-
Champaign. Quite randomly she
Mujhse Dosti Karoge.
“It’s not my favorite movie, but it
had songs, colorful situations,”
Watkins adds. “It was a good hook.”
Soon after Watkins watched Subh-
on a big screen at
EbertFest — a specialized film festi-
val organized by the veteran critic
Roger Ebert in Urbana-Champaign.
“It was such a spectacle,” She adds.
Also in Toronto, Irina (she only
uses her first name), a Romanian
immigrant joined a Bollywood dance class and it changed her
life. She still attends that class.
“A lot of dance classes require you to pick up a whole new
language, take your body in places you are not familiar with
and are counter-intuitive,” Irina says. “But with Bollywood
dances you just swing your hips, and shimmy your chest. It
seemed like something you could pick up and run with.”
The first song she danced to was either
. She then went on You Tube, re-discovered the songs
as they were set in the films and then started watching
Bollywood movies online.
Her first film was
and in February 2008 she found
a local theater in downtown Toronto playing
“My friend thought the film was long, but I was struck by
heroin. Beth Watkins
There is a small but
highly visible group of
North American women
who have fallen in love
with Bollywood and blog
about those films.
how they got hooked
the costumes, the spectacle,” she recalls. “It was such a grand
Levy, Giovanna, Watkins and Irina belong to a small but
highly visible group of North American women — who quite
by chance fell in love with Indian cinema — especially
Bollywood, and then started blogging about those films. Over
the years, their blogs — a way for them to understand and
express their experiences of watching Indian films — have
become popular, drawing audience from the United States,
Canada, the United Kingdom and often surprisingly from
India as well.
But before the blogs started there was still a lot of learning.
and more’ ;
in this issue
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