‘How Pakistan fell in Love with Bollywood’

How Pakistan Fell in Love With Bollywood This article by Anuj Chopra originally appeared here


Last month, just before the release of the Bollywood film My Name Is Khan, a message generated in Pakistan on the microblogging site Twitter was massively retweeted in Mumbai, India: “You might want to come to Karachi to catch MNIK’s first day, first show!”

The release of My Name Is Khan, or MNIK, as it is popularly known, had to be scaled back in Mumbai, India’s film capital, because of a political controversy. Just days before the premier, its lead actor, Shah Rukh Khan, had lamented the exclusion of Pakistani cricketers from the Indian Premier League cricket auction. This infuriated Shiv Sena, a Hindu ultranationalist group that advocates snapping all sporting and cultural ties with Pakistan. It launched a campaign against Khan, threatening to stall his film’s release until he apologized and retracted his statement, which he refused to do. Placard-wielding protesters besieged his mansion in suburban Mumbai, burning his effigy and bellowing slogans like “Shah Rukh Khan, go away to Pakistan!” One of the protesters clutched in his hands a dummy airline ticket emblazoned with the words: “Mumbai to Pakistan.” Mumbaistationed police officers at movie theaters and rounded up 2,000 people in advance of the opening as a cautionary measure. Continue reading


‘A Hindi Film 20 Years in the Making’

This article was originally published here in the New York Times.

In the hit Hindi film of this season, three Indian bachelors and a Hermès handbag, which they have named Bagwati, go on a road trip in Spain. Their objective is to endure three extreme adventure sports. On the way they meet a beautiful Indian-British diving instructor, a Spanish girl who apparently will let any man into her bath as long as he asks “May I enter?” in Spanish and the artist father of one of the bachelors who had abandoned the boy when he was still in the womb.

Directed by Zoya Akhtar, this joyous film, titled “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You Only Live Once),” is set against a backdrop of affluence, easy sex and relentless reminders that life is meant to be fun. Such ideas and protagonists in a mainstream commercial Hindi film would have been unthinkable in an earlier time. Which is one reason the film was 20 years in the making, almost exactly 20 years. Continue reading