Born in Iran, emigrated to Canada, dreaming of of India. Lila Ghobady's "movie review" of recent Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire for Feminist Review is more than a review...it's the story of her life. And how India (or her imagining of India) played a huge role in her childhood daydreams, her young adult self-examinations and her grown-up realization of the shades of gray behind the vivid, colorful impression India had made on Lila since youth.
We start by understanding exactly how Lila fell in love with India...as portrayed in Bollywood films...as a very young girl:
As a little girl growing up in Iran, and like millions of others living in Eastern countries, I loved Bollywood movies. They were all colour and glamour and rosy pictures of India, that heaven on earth; the country of love and flowers.
In my childish imagination, Bollywood’s India was the best place on the planet to live and be in love. For hours, my cousins and I would sit watching Bollywood movies and later try to imitate those gorgeous Indian actresses.
We all wanted to steal the heart of the main actor, Amitabh Bachchan. He was the most gorgeous man ever: tall, handsome, and an amazing dancer, he was our superbly passionate romantic hero who would do anything for love and justice—at the same time! A true prince charming. I would have done anything (and I mean anything) to get his attention if he ever showed up in my neighbourhood in Tehran!
In that way, I was just like little Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire.
We continue on to see how these Bollywood films were worth risking great punishment for after the Islamic revolution:
Although owning a video player was a crime with a harsh punishment, we continued to keep our player and watch Bollywood movies in our basements. But this couldn’t help us to forget the cruel realities taking place outside our doors. Thousands of young Iranian revolutionaries were massacred by the new Islamic regime, which conducted a never-ending war with neighbouring Iraq, using the war as a tool to quell internal political dissent.
My childhood became nothing more than blood and hopelessness. Even Bollywood movies were powerless to bring the colour back to the dark reality that Iran had become.
Lila's journey takes her to Canada, and to a spiritual examination of many of the gods of Indian origin. She is always searching, but never quite settling, never quite finding the answer. She becomes more of an observer, a muser, and eventually (and finally) an actual visitor to India, land of her youthful daydreams.
The conflict. The extremes. The contradictions. The beauty within. The poverty without. Lila lets us see it all through her eyes, through the eyes of someone who once turned to the promise of India to get through tough childhood times, and who now wonders how we can all change the tough childhoods of so many Indian children.
It's a movie review that is so much more, and that is why Lila Ghobady from Feminist Review is our BlogHer of the Week!
Thanks to everyone for continuing to send in your nominated posts. Remember to nominate individual posts, not entire blogs, and keep them coming!
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