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  Field Notes From
Bollywood



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Suketu Mehta



Bollywood On Assignment

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William Albert Allard



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph by Jerry Bauer (top) and Rebecca Hale


 

Bollywood On Assignment Author Bollywood On Assignment Author
Bollywood

Field Notes From Author
Suketu Mehta

Best Worst Quirkiest
    Hanging out with Shah Rukh Khan was great fun. He told me about the kind of bizarre scripts people propose to him. In one story idea given to him by a politician, Shah Rukh's character dies. But there is no human body available for reincarnation. So he is born again as a dog. After nine months, he falls in love with a woman.
    The politician had spent hundreds of thousands of rupees buying puppies and training them. He had many books about dogs on his table. I asked Shah Rukh if he was expected to act as the dog. In answer, he scratched his ear rapidly with his paw.

    Getting a visa to go to Pakistan from India was most annoying. I had to travel to New Delhi from Mumbai, or Bombay, to get the visa because the Pakistani consulate hasn't opened in India's biggest city. A Pakistani High Commission clerk told me—after looking at my American passport—that I would have to get an official letter of reference from the U.S. Embassy.
    I dutifully trudged to the embassy where, after a thorough frisking, I was given a stamped letter stating that the U.S. Embassy had stopped issuing such letters years ago; my passport should be sufficient proof of my citizenship.
    I hurried back to the High Commission before it closed and gave the letter to the clerk, who seemed placated by any sort of paper with the United States seal on it. I received my visa that evening.
    It was a nonsensical ritual, but it pales in comparison to the ordeal citizens of India and Pakistan face in order to visit their relatives across the border or see the Taj Mahal or the Badshami Mosque in Lahore. Both governments do their utmost to make it as difficult as possible for their citizens to travel across the border.

    A Pakistani starlet was being introduced at a press conference in a Lahore hotel. "With this film," she declared, "I have made a U-turn in my career."
    "That would mean," the master of ceremonies noted, "that you're back where you started."


   


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