Seventy-nine years before I was born, the world as I would come to know it changed completely. Amidst all the seasons, weather, humans, animals, developed worlds, developing worlds, first worlds, third worlds emerged a new world: my world. They named this world Bollywood. And here I am a hundred odd years later, gushing over cinema, new and old alike. Bollywood isn’t only about well-choreographed songs, clichéd love stories or sons going to war with their neighbouring countries, no; it is a lot more. A lot more than you or I or anyone can even fathom, let alone grasp.
I keep hearing people tell me how useless the world of Bollywood is. How it’s unrealistic and unreal. Most of all, how it’s illogical. But here I am, telling you and everyone else who thinks Bollywood doesn’t offer anything more than scantily clothed women and soppy he-loves-my-girl-even-though-he-is-my-best-friend stories, that you’re wrong.
While I do admit that Bollywood has put out a few unbearable movies in her hundred years, she has still given me more life lessons than I ever got in my Character Building classes at school.
I have watched countless movies in the twenty one years of my life, but they are just not enough. There’s a plethora of movies waiting, out there for me to watch, to explore, to feel, to love; to love my family, my friends, that one special someone, Ranbir Kapoor and everyone around me.
I am not someone who watches Veer-Zaara and wonders what Courts allow just about anyone to enter whenever they want to, to speak whenever and where in the world does the Judge apologize to the man on trial, that too an Indian man. I’m not someone who watches Dharam-Veer and wonders how someone can jump off of a building and land straight on their beloved horse. I’m not someone who watches Anand and ponders over how a person suffering from lymphocercoma of the intestine can run around the beach and sing *Zindagi Kesi Ye Paheli Haye…Kabhi Yeh Hassaye…Kabhi Yeh Rulaaye.*
I’m someone who cries every single time the doors of the Courts open in Veer-Zaara and a much older Zaara is standing there with the same love she had for Veer twenty-two years ago, in her eyes. I bawl out every time Rajesh Khanna, as Anand, screams out his last Babumushai. I cringe in pain when the police are taking Jordan away from the hospital and he tells them no.
While I’m someone who laughs like crazy when the trio, Amar Akbar Anthony, donates blood to their mother…from the same pipe…directly from one bloodstream to another, I understand the bond of brotherhood, of family because that’s what Bollywood taught me. It taught me how the ties of blood and family are stronger than any other. That true friendships withstand everything that gets thrown their way.
While on one hand, I’m not the biggest fan of slapstick comedies like the Golmaal series, the Yamla Pagla Deewana terror or the Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan types; flip the hand over and you will see me shedding floods of tears watching Ethan Mascarenas laugh his beautiful laugh at the end of Guzaarish or Rahul Jaykar making an appearance in the last few scenes at the stadium in Aashiqui 2 or Arun Mehra breathing his last in Kal Ho Naa Ho or just last night, watching the beautiful Bunny, in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, standing there to Kabira playing in the background.
Bollywood taught me how to value the little things in life. Things like the prick of an injection, being able to brush off a fly bugging you, taking a shower, breathing, dancing, loving, holding the person you love. Guzaarish taught me to pay special attention to the minute details that life throws your way. Ethan Mascerenas also taught me that you’re not just meant to smile, you’re meant to smile through your tears.
Bollywood made me realize that songs aren’t meant to only make you dance, they’re meant to make you cringe with pain, to hide your pain and show the world that you’re fine…that you’re just fine.
I learnt how to get back up no matter what anyone said and to show the world that I could do it all along. That my failures weren’t failures, they were practice runs. I learnt how absolutely nothing is worth giving up your life and dreams over. Nothing.
It taught me acceptance. Of people from different castes, races, colours, professions and sexualities. it taught me how to respect other people. How there is absolutely nothing wrong with a change in perspective.
It taught me how to wipe my tears secretly before getting off of that chair at the cinema, and how to tell people that I’m okay when I’m not because the man I fell in love with in the first half of the movie is no longer there. That it actually isn’t okay if you lose someone you love. That you’re only human to mourn the loss. Even if the other person is alive. Even if the other person is sitting in front of you. And sometimes, it’s okay to drown your sorrows in substances. But that if you start replacing your dependence with the person you once loved, you’re in trouble.
Among the cornucopia of things that Bollywood taught me, it taught me the importance of people. Those around me and those I have no relation to. Those who live in the same house as I do and those who are out on the streets. Those living in the house next to mine and those who I have never seen in my life.
Bollywood taught me that revenge isn’t always the best option. Sometimes, you just need to sit back and take things one at a time. Discard what you don’t like and hold on to what you do.
It gave me lessons that no single human ever could. To get over your disabilities, of the obstacles you face in life. It taught me that Thakur could function perfectly well without his arms. That Barfi could convey more emotion than anyone ever could without uttering a single word.
It taught me the importance of people, of losses and gains. Of parents, of siblings, of love, of lovers, of possessions, of God, of His people, of hate, of children, of elders and most of all, of life.
Bollywood gave me the strength to apologize for any wrong that I’ve done, to admit my mistakes. It gave me the will to go out there and do what I want to. What I love. It told me to go follow my dreams and never step out of their shadows. It taught me that this world is a cruel place but you have to create your own tiny world and as long as you live in it, no harm can come to you. It told me to never cause harm to anyone.
And I did. I created my own world and they called it Bollywood.
Happy Birthday, Beautiful!