Now I'm sure there are some snooty film critics who claim to have seen every Bollywood movie going, but I'm not one of them. I'm about as experienced in Bollywood as Victoria Beckham is in making the tea. But when a TV opportunity came up for me to talk about Bollywood's chances for an Oscar (with the masterful "Lagaan") I threw myself into the nearest sari and dived headfirst into the Bombay mix. I was like a 14-year-old boy with a Britney Spears calendar. The emotions I felt were strange and alien - but I loved every eye-popping minute.
After "Lagaan" I rented fellow mega hit "Asoka", starring brooding Bollywood big timer Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor, a woman who is to eyes what Angelina Jolie is to lips. I loved it. Big budget and bloodthirsty, yes, but for a novice like myself it delivered in spades all that makes Bollywood so novel to a Western audience. There's ravishing colour, sparkling songs, and tragic romance-a-plenty. If you didn't like "Moulin Rouge" then it's not for you. If you're missing a willing suspension of disbelief then, frankly, save your pennies. But if Baz Luhrmann tickled your fancy with Ewan, Nicole and "Your Song" then wait till you see Shah Rukh, Kareena and "San Sanana".
I then went out and bought "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge", Bollywood's third most successful film of all time if you please. More Shah Rukh. He the man. Now I'm chomping at the bit to get hold of "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai", not only coz Shah Rukh is back but also as it's billed as a Bollywood college movie. For a man who's seen "Clueless" 31 times that sounds right up my street.
Then of course there's "Kabhi Khushi Kahbie Gham", the blockbuster that hit the top five box-office over here last year and, surprise surprise, stars Shah Rukh Khan again. You may have guessed, Shah Rukh's very popular in Bollywood.
The point to this cinematic diary I'm inflicting upon you? Just when you think you've seen it all, you really haven't. I've discovered something new, probably way behind everyone else, but new to me. And, like it was when I first got into movies, there's a whole world of new films for me to discover out there, from new stars and fresh directors. It's a journey I can't wait to take.
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