14 August 2011: Bollywood

Centre for Social Research, India
Report no.5


I said a lot of goodbyes last week, and realised that even though I’m still answering “How long are you in Delhi for?” with “6 months” –  I only really have 4 months left here now. I spent most of my week with other people – friends from work, friends from Scotland, friends from Delhi and made some new friends too. By Saturday I was ready for some peace and quiet and sat down to write letters home, read my book and get stuck into work that I’d been avoiding during the week.


Work Overview

I spent most of my time working on research and social media last week. The latest blog entry went live today: Broken Promises: The Dark Side of NRI Marriages.

I was introduced to ShadowLine Films on Friday and will hopefully be collaborating with them soon. Really excited about this – my love affair with China and previous work experience with a human rights film festival mean it’s right up my street. The film trailer for ‘It’s a Girl’ (which you’ll find on their website) looks fantastic. CSR helped them when they came to India to shoot the film, and some CSR staff are featured. Will be great to see if we can come up with a  project together.

Plans for the Coming Week

This week I’m working on the presentation on ‘prevention and control strategies for crimes against women in public’. It’s my main priority at the moment.

M&C has also started the ball rolling on the CSR Newsletter. My supervisor gets back to Delhi on Wednesday so I’m sure we’ll be busy with this next week.

I’m also starting work on a new series for the blog about the work that CSR interns do this week.


I went out for dinner at a wonderful restaurant in a place called the ‘Garden of Five Senses’ on Thursday night after haggling for some lanterns and flip flops in a slightly chaotic but charming market – Janpath – in South Delhi. It was a friend Shruti’s last meal before she headed home to Bangalore, and my friends Michael, Michael & Maria’s last meal before they headed back to Glasgow. The restaurant is situated in a huge green garden decorated with strings of white lights, and swinging chairs are suspended from the roof to eat your meal on. On Friday we carried lots of cushions, rugs and colourful lanterns up to our rooftop and threw a leaving party under the stars for one of the CSR interns.

I watched one of the country’s best-loved Bollywood films on Saturday called Diwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Before I came to India I shamefully hadn’t ever seen a Bollywood film… which is ironic because out of everything I’ve done here I seem to enjoy watching Indian cinema the most. This one is apparently “the” film to watch – it’s a classic Indian love story where the lead girl is destined for an arranged marriage but falls in love with someone else before her engagement. There was a lot of singing, dancing and gender stereotyping throughout.

I’d honestly been wondering what all the hype was about, but by the end of it I fully understood. Living here, you can instantly understand why Indian cinema is such an unstoppable force – it plays to the hopes and dreams of young people and gives others the drama and action they crave. More than anything, I feel that getting lost in the glitzy world of Bollywood – where the boy always gets the girl, justice is always spectacularly served against the corrupt villain, and characters break from traditional ties to do the most unthinkable acts of bravery and rebellion – is an escape for 2 or 3 hours from some of the real difficulties and problems people face in this country. Maybe that could be said for all forms of entertainment, but there’s certainly something about the mix of humour, music, colour and overall satisfaction of South Asian cinema which provides more of a release than any other film or performance I can think of. Perhaps it’s down to the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.  I like that.


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