How can I become a Bollywood hero?
In a Bollywood film you don't need dogs sniffing under the hood for explosives, because in the film the villain always reveals himself. The viewer recognizes him by the sinister figure, the white shoes, the lustful look, the sinister mustache and the bushy eyebrows. Of course, the police would still be in the dark.
But there is always a beautiful hero who grabs the villain by the sleeper and pulls a dagger, bomb or poisoned chocolates out of his checked jacket. In such a black and white world, the viewer feels safe. In real Bombay or Mumbai, as the Indians call it, the fear of attacks is so great that wealthy guests lock themselves away in hotels as if in safes.
A golden cage like the JW Marriott Bombay is not the dream accommodation for travel romantics who want to immerse themselves in the hustle and bustle of India. For Bollywood fans, however, there is no better area to hunt for their stars. Nobody can say exactly when, but once a week Amitabh Bachchan, for example, comes here from his villa in the neighborhood.
Anyone who gets up at five o'clock can see the dignified gentleman in the hotel spa like a ghost soaring through the steam into the pool. You can swim alongside the "greatest actor of the millennium" (BBC), the James Dean of India, who is now 68 years old and has a mottled beard reminiscent of Sean Connery.
The employees of the house like to say that the Marriott is the social and business center of the largest film industry in the world. 250 Hindi films are made in Bombay every year - and here in the hotel the contracts are signed and the closing parties are celebrated. In the evening in the dining hall with the 30-meter glass front facing the ocean, you simply follow the flashing lights, stand at the buffet next to a made-up man with a low-buttoned silk shirt and let yourself be photographed with him - the waiter will tell you afterwards which up-and-coming young star is there Has acted as a model.
"We know more about you than you do about us"
Without the art of Vaibhavi Merchant, a classic Bollywood work would be unthinkable: five or six times per film, the characters suddenly begin to dance out of reality for minutes. For Indians this is quite normal: "We dance when we get married, when we don't get married, when we get divorced - we dance for every occasion," says Vaibhavi Merchant, who no longer dances in films herself.
As a choreographer, she won the Bollywood Movie Award in 2006 and 2007. As a judge on the world's most important TV dance show, Nach Baliye, she watched 15 million Indians every week, and now, at 30, her life provides the plot for the stage musical she choreographed, Bollywood - The Show, that is currently touring Europe. Vaibhavi's great-grandfather danced St. Kathak in front of the royal couple, her grandfather Shri B. Hiralal brought dance to film and was a co-founder of Bollywood cinema, and she too prevailed, now making ten films a year with the superstars. In 2007 she was nominated for a Hollywood Oscar for "Lagaan". "Now there is finally a cultural exchange," she says, "but we still know a lot more about you than you do about us."
That is changing right now. Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp will play leading roles in Indian films in 2009 and will not only attract the fanatical supporters of the RTL II Bollywood nights to the cinema. When Shahrukh Khan, who waved every second poster in India, came to Paris last year to open a "megastore" for records, the television canceled an interview with Tom Cruise and only filmed the "greatest star in the world", who is said to be 3, Has 6 billion fans in Asia.
Because they want to see the screen favorites in real life, more and more fans travel to Bombay. The Marriott is ideally located for celebrity stalking: in the middle of Juhu Beach, the Beverly Hills of Bombay, where most of the actors live, recognizable by the fans lingering in front of their villas. In Juhu there are many villas by the standards of the 13 million city of Bombay. But the stars also see the poorest people and their camps in sewers and ditches from the windows under their images reproduced a thousand times over on the cinema posters. Here, too, in the realm of the rich, a beggar child is plucking at the elbow.
Oases of silence in noisy Bombay
If you want to protect yourself from sad looks and hot, humid air on the star safari, join a bus group. Yamini from the tourist office, who lived in Bremen and learned German, knows all the hiding places. "The actors are coming out," she says, "but nobody knows when." A Swiss woman came to Bombay because of her great love, Shahrukh. Yamini led them to his garden gate.
The star was not seen for a week. As a consolation, the lively tour guide gave the disappointed one a poster. Yamini makes possible what actually no longer works because the stars feel disturbed by the curious while working: visiting a film studio. The Yash Ray Films do not offer tourist entertainment like the Universal Studios - but you really look through open doors where Air India is shooting an advertisement in an airplane torso, or you can see the McDonald's from the new Khan- in the studio bistro. Stripes.
At night, the Marriott lobby becomes an entertainment hub for wealthy neighbors who eat, drink, see, and be seen here. To dance, they step through metal detectors into the Marriott Disco Enigma, a dark room with a three-meter-high crystal chandelier and booths for the VIPs. Muscle men pose on the dance floor, next to them Akshay Khanna, also a young star, moves elegantly and quickly in a tricky rhythm.
Long-haired machos hit blondes faster than DJ Pearl, a pretty young woman who changes records: She mixes folk from Rajasthan with Bangra-Pop, old film hits and club hits from the West.
At half past two in the morning, a slag with designer glasses appears, looks at the dancers, rocks the moccasins. Salim Merchant likes to hear when they play his music here, the 33-year-old composes for Bollywood together with his older brother Sulaiman. Indian film hits always land on the radio and the disco, a film without a hit is usually a box office flop. Salim quickly drinks a gin and tonic, the DJane nods, then he moves on.
Cinemas like the Metro or the Galaxy, the last Art Deco buildings from the heyday of Indian film, are oases of silence in noisy Bombay. Until the demonstration begins. As soon as the Indian flag flutters on the canvas framed by a chain of lights and a ribbon drags down the hymn, the guests jump up, sing and can no longer be calmed down. When Sharhukh Khan in "Chakde!" ("Let's go!") When the coach leads the Indian hockey ladies to Olympic victory, they scream as if they were there live in the stadium.
With all the kitsch - something about this sports film is different from the Bollywood cliché that is widespread in the West: Nobody sings, nobody dances, there is no love affair. Here Bollywood is copying modern Hollywood. Not an isolated case, for a long time and more often, films have dealt with stock market turmoil, the Pakistani-Indian conflict, poverty and human rights - with no guarantee of a happy ending. Bollywood is no longer an ideal world either.
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