Home Products: the filmi connection

Having temporarily rebelled against the required reading for certain pieces  to come, I’ve been devouring Amitava Kumar’s  2007 novel Home Products.      The protagonist is a writer from Bihar (hey, wait a minute…) who comes to Bombay and works as a film journalist, and then gets involved in writing a screenplay.   As if it were not already a great read (with unexpected humor and much expected beautiful turns of phrase), Home Products  is also bursting with filmi references and commentary:

Ajay was less interested in telling you whether Hindi films are good or bad; instead he tried hard to make his readers aware of the enormous importance these films had in their lives.   In one piece, he had challenged his readers to deny that every one of them had a favorite Hindi film song.   By way of example, he had offered that many Indian men, in the late seventies and eighties, looking for the first time at their bride’s face on their wedding night, recalled the scene from Kabhi Kabhie when Amitabh lifts the veil and looks at Rakhee.   Kabhi kabhie mere dil mein khayal aata hai

More than once, Ajay had said that no one in India has as much influence as the Indian film hero: he runs the barber’s shop simply by smiling from a photograph on the wall, he tells a woman what a man wants by looking into her eyes from the screen, he teaches a man how to cry when his mother dies, he gets voted into office and runs the country from his seat in the parliament, and, as was clear during the textile strike, even Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on a visit to Bombay cared enough for the filmstar lying in a hospital bed at Breach Candy but not for the thousands of workers and their families starving because of lost wages and lost jobs.

One thought on “Home Products: the filmi connection

  1. Thanks for reading the book, Filmi. I was wondering when you were going to get around to doing it. Excellent.

    The portion that you’ve quoted is lifted nearly verbatim from my interview with a journalist-friendin Mumbai, Ajay Brahmatmaj. Yes, the filmi journalist in the book has the same name. He’s also got a Hindi blog, where just over the past few days he’s interviewed the film-star mentioned above, his son, and his daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai.

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