I’m going to post on this blog a number of excerpts from my new book, Living and Working in India, which I co-authored with my best friend Ian Beadham. The book, a product of our visit to India in 2001, will ease the transition between Western and Indian cultures, giving a wealth of advice in terms of language, culture, lifestyle, education, health, housing, immigration, working practices and regulations.
A typical Bollywood plot
At first, Indian movies may be a little difficult to appreciate, resembling western pantomimes and musicals as much as they do mainstream English language films. Often the characters’ qualities are well exaggerated, with sugary-sweet heroines, glaringly evil baddies and kindly mothers. Family values are paramount and typically a young man (who may be from a poor background) has to struggle to prove his worthiness for the hand of a girl whose rich parents disapprove of him. In the process Gods must be worshipped, villains must be vanquished, friendships and love triangles formed, and birthday parties may be held for children, with a sprinkling of funerals and weddings thrown in for good measure. The action may be set in a college, a historical setting, the criminal underworld of Bombay or an affluent western country, but the formula for a successful movie or ‘super-hit’ should not stray too far from these conventions. The one indispensable part of the equation is to include a number of catchy song-and-dance routines in the movie, with a beautiful heroine and a dashing hero (occasionally the hero may still sometimes be too old and overweight in a South Indian movie!).