Bollywood churns out about 800 ‘masala movies’ a year. That’s about 2.5 films a day.

A Bollywood film is like fried rice. The prototype is the same – rice cooked and spiced in a certain way. The unique flavours come from the additional ingredients – veggies, eggs, meat or seafood.

In university, I spent several late nights with my non-Indian friends decoding Bollywood for them. Most of their questions revolved around the song-and-dance ‘numbers’.

99% of Bollywood films have them – a guy and a girl, running around (together or solo), often with ‘moral support’ (a melange of dancers in the background) to cheer them on as they are making out. A Bollywood film without three or four song-and-dance routines is considered a freak show.

I wish I had this ready reckoner with me when my non-Indian friends were parading their appalling ignorance about one of the world’s great cinematic institutions. Well, better late than never.

BOLLYWOOD 101

This is the basic formula.

Each era came with its unique flavours.

The ’50s. Men wore a tub of vaseline in the hair. The women flitted around in sarees saying “Don’t be angry with meeeeeee, oh male of the speeecieees.”

The ’60s – A lot of running through valleys and meadows with beehive hairdos and clothes bursting at the seams. Plus stilettos. And small ‘arses’.

Asha Parekh and Nanda stood, hands folded in prayer before a statue, saying, “Bhagwan, mein tumhare paas choti si arse lekar aayi hoon.” (Translation: “Lord, I come to you with a small arse.”)

For a long time, I didn’t know that in Hindi “arse” means “request”. I simply thought it referred to a part of the anatomy. Well, I’m no Hindi expert. It’s not even my third language.

The ’70s. The era of bell bottoms and guitars. Scary times.

The ’80s. The earrings get bigger. The problem of clothes bursting at the seams is solved by simply doing away with them. And everything went “Ding Dong Ding”.

The ’90s – The era of beating around the bush is over. The lyrics get straight to the point: “What’s behind your blouse?” Ethnic Indian clothes are back. The big earrings get transferred to the nose.

The 21st century. The guys start going topless, sleeveless or buttonless to struff their stuff. Biceps are in. So are amazing revelations like “My father’s daughter calls me ‘brother’!!!

However, like a good bowl of fried rice, despite tweaking with the ingredients, the essence of the dish never changes.

ANNOYING QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK

What happens before the song?

Boy meets girl. He’s rich, she’s poor. He wants to marry her but his parents won’t let him. His perpetually-coughing mom threates to kill herself if he marries that slut.

What are they saying during the song?

He: “I love you. Hope you love me, ‘cos I want to marry you.”

She: “And what’s in it for me?”

He: “You get to press my feet, cook me dinner and have my bahhhhbieees.”

She: “Is your dad rich?”

He: “Yeah.”

She: “Hmmmm….”

Why do they have to run around trees to have this conversation? Is this satire? Or are they dead serious.

They are dead serious. They run around ‘cos they need exercise. Often, in villages, there are no gyms. And in cities, getting to the gym involves a long commute. In the ’80s, the effects of global warming were becoming evident. As there were fewer trees to run around, the action moved from land to sea. Now, even the seas are polluted. They’ve start dancing on top of running trains.

Why do they keep changing outfits every few minutes? And why do they need other folks dancing in the background?

We Indians are clothes horses with huge stunning wardrobes. Stop being so damn jealous.

We like to make out with an audience. Dances and drumbeats get us in the ‘mood’. We’re not prudes like you folks.

What happens after the song?

There are many songs – anything from four to a dozen. After all (or most) of them, they get married. She changes to a saree and grows her hair. They have some babies, he hands them over to this mommy to raise. To shut his wife up, he dips into daddy’s bank account to buy her a mansion and a fleet of cars. And they all live happily ever after.

Why do they need three hours to tell this story?

Are you kidding me? I wish a Bollywood movie was six hours. You commute for a hour in the heat to get to the damn theatre. Then you buy a ticket in the black market. You settle down with popcorn and get a bit sleepy. John Abraham starts dancing and singing in the rain with some woman. You catch a glimpse of his 8-pack. You doze off in the air-conditioned ambience. You wake up to the loud drumbeats when they start singing again.

By then the plot gets all convoluted. When the heroine starts dressing in a saree and pressing her mother-in-law’s feet, you know the movie’s about to end. Damn ….!!! I’d sit there for three more hours if he stays with his shirt off and gets rid of that stupid woman who’s always in the frame.

Are there other films in India besides these?

Yeah, there are films in Indian regional languages. Bollywood copies from them – lyrics, scripts, tunes, the kitchen sink, everything. So there’s no need to watch the regional language films. It’s a brilliant concept – like an RSS aggregator.

You get everything at one place, and you don’t even need to understand Hindi to know what’s going on. Only the faces change. The story more or less remains the same.

Which is your favourite Bollywood number?

THIS ONE

Who is she and why the heck is she screaming ‘My Boob’?

That’s Sushmita Sen. ‘Mehboob’ means lover, I think. The rest sounds like:

“Don’t show me attitude, dude. I’ll keep a boy toy on the side, but forget about getting hitched.”

Smart gal.

Umm… okay. And what’s the connection with Pineapple Fried Rice?

Meeta wants a Bollywood dish for her Monthly Mingle event. She wants it to be ekdum dhinchak, like Hrithik in overdrive.

So here’s our Indo-Chinese fusion dish. It’s like Bollywood – crazy, but never boring.

PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE

Quick, fast, easy. A great way to use up odds and ends from the fridge. We had asparagus, carrots and peas.

Fresh, frozen or canned in juice – all types of pineapple work well in this dish.

We usually add scrambled eggs to fried rice. When we made this, we didn’t have any.

Any hot sauce like Sriracha or Tabasco will work for this recipe. We like Frank’s Red Hot sauce.

1.5 cups brown (or white) basmati rice.

Soak for 1 hour, add 2.5 cups of water and pressure cook for 1 whistle. Or cook on the stovetop until the grains are cooked, but separate and firm.

Cool and refrigerate, preferably overnight.

Heat
1 tbsp vegetable oil
and
2 tsps dark sesame oil

until smoking hot in a wok

Add
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 cup chopped spring onions (the white part)

Lower heat to medium and stir for a couple of minutes.

Add
2 cups chopped pineapple (if using canned, use 1/4 cup of the juice as well)

Cook until the pineapple begins to caramelise.

Add
the cold cooked rice
1.5 cups chopped asparagus
1/2 cup carrots diced small
2-3 tablespoons tamari (or low-sodium soy sauce)
chilli sauce (like Sriracha or Tabasco) to taste

Toss and cook until the rice is heated through well and the asparagus has softened just a bit.

Check seasonings and add salt and pepper if you need to.

Thaw
1 cup frozen peas

in the microwave for a couple of minutes and add in the end.

Garnish with 1/2 cup spring onion greens and serve immediately.

Hope you like it, dear Meeta.

- Bee

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47 Comments

  1. Chennette says:

    ahhh, Bollywood movies were the norm for majority of households on a Sunday, Indo-trini or not. We only had one tv station, and that was the Sunday midday- afternoon fare.
    My mother cut down on our watching when my brother started jumping over furniture yelling “You Bastard!” (apologies for the language)
    Here in Guyana, there is a plethora of local stations, and half of them seem to always have an Indian movie on. I see more now than I ever did, whether I want to or not.
    My favourite times were when they decided to sing in English – one memorable lyric- I am in love…you is in love…we is in love…
    :-) Great post. And delicious rice.

  2. Shibani says:

    Wow so interesting and hilarious Bee.

    The pineapple rice is awesome with a beautiful picture!!!!!!!!

    It feels so great after visting ur blog.U are simply Rocking and very inspirational.

  3. shilpa says:

    Hmmmm…..looks like someone really hates bollywood here. You should watch movies like TZP, lagaan, lakshya once in a while Bee(Yeah I agree they make such movies very rarely).

    Loved your pineapple rice. Looks like it will be another perfect lunchbox item for me.

  4. Cham says:

    I like the way you describe from 50′s till date :) Great , beautiful rice looks like Hawai beauty :)

  5. indosungod says:

    Bee, you are hilarious especially like the no gym, running around trees part. The perfect side dish for the Bollywood 101 :) looks awesome.

  6. Arundathi says:

    nice job – and the presentation looks like it came straight out of a restaurant menu.

  7. TBC says:

    An absolutely hilarious read! :-) Loved your post though I am a die-hard Bollywood fan. They’re not all as bad as you make them out to be, you know. :D

  8. sreelu says:

    Imagine me as Anupama rai persistent mother with all the wordly troubles possible coughing and wiping my tears saying ” accha dish hai beti akhon me pani bhar ayai ” :)

  9. sra says:

    Thanks for linking to the Ek Do Teen song – loved that beat :-D

    I remember someone saying that if the movie-maker/lyricist were really courageous, they should have said ‘Choli ke andar kya hai’ rather than ‘peeche’ – apparently that’s grammatically correct.

    And I never seem to have noticed the ‘arse’! :)

  10. Ruchika says:

    Your bollywood post is hilarious! LOL @ the “arse”! The pineapple rice looks yumm and I love the idea of serving it in the pineapple boat!
    –Ruchika

  11. Meeta says:

    this is really Hrithik-like!! Dhamaka hai! (I hope my hindi/english spelling there is comprehensible. Simply fabulous recipe and hope you have a huge fork for me because I want some now!

  12. sushma says:

    This is really hilarious. and nice entry for the event

  13. Mamatha says:

    So there’s no need to watch the regional language films. It’s a brilliant concept – like an RSS aggregator.

    LOL! That was a fab read first thing Saturday morning. Here’s a site a that talks about Indian
    (B/K/T/M/*)ollywood music that is copied, errr… inspired from world music.

    http://www.itwofs.com/

  14. Srivalli says:

    hohohoho…my god…this is too hilarious!….loved everything!

  15. What I love is how everyone in the audience will weep real tears at the “boy and girl break up” part of the movie. The occasional bollywood movie comes here, and I love to go and see them.

  16. Rajitha says:

    what a fun read..also in the 80′s movies..once the hero becomes a manager..he has a huuuge mansion with ramu kaka and a lady servant who is perpectually sad..and a boring mom to boot ;D

  17. musical says:

    Very funny :-D

    Love the way you served the pineapple rice, that’s a super-duper hit now :) .

    Btw, its arz and not ar** ;)

  18. Smita says:

    Hiliarious! The guy in the top video somehow reminds me of Mr Bean :-) That Hritik is trouble for women all over the world – I can swear my aerobics instructor watches and practises those exact moves!

  19. Mansi says:

    hahahahaa…what a take on bollywood! but I agree, most of it is true:) loved the pineapple rice:)

  20. sandeepa says:

    Really “arse” means request, I always thought “hope”

    And come on 70′s weren’t that bad. Wasn’t there Bawarchi, Abhimaan, Sholay, Golmaal, Kabhie-Kabhie….

    but they still had bell bottoms. :D

  21. RedChillies says:

    ROFL.. that was hilarious. Bollywood is a part of for lives..love it or hate it. Call me old fashioned but with the stuff going on in today’s movies, the 80′s and 90′s seemed so much better. I feel so out of touch.

    Soy sauce and pineapple in rice? now that is cool and new.

  22. Johanna says:

    fried rice in a pineapple always looks very exotic – as do bollywood movies – thanks for the lowdown on both!

  23. pauaprincess says:

    How have I missed this cultural experience? I endeavored to discuss the subject of Bollywood movies with my Indian friend at the local dairy, we know each other well and usually we confine our discussion to why my daughter who is the same age group as his, is more respectful of my husband than his little girl is of him. Which sounds as if it could turn into a Bollywood movie plot by itself. Anyway I digress, he said I should probably confine myself to Star Wars because if I start watching Bollywood movies, I might never leave the house? Is this true Bee?

    i wouldn’t recommend typical bollywood movies, but there are a few cool movies about bollywood, and some by mira nair (like ‘the namesake’) that i would recommend. they give you a bit of the bollywood flavour without making you wonder if you’re going nuts. nagesh kukunoor is another director i love. he has a spoof on bollywood which is hilarious.

  24. arfi says:

    there’s a big market of bollywood movies in indonesia. it seems that everyone knows aamir khan or the goddess beauty aishawarya rai… oh, she is just stunning. kuch kuch hota hae was a box office and everyone knows how to sing it. and everytime i watch indian movie, i am fascinated by the colours of sari and how fast they dance. i just love traditional dance which the dancers are tattoed with what is it called… henna? we have that kind of tradition to put the ground plants which its colour remains on the nails for months. brides from Java usually uses that to mark that they’re taken. things about traditional values, i always love!

    dear arfi, most of the bollywood dances are western-style dances in Indian clothes.

  25. Purnima says:

    :D ROFWL, LOL, for B.W! The rice looks great! Loved the way you scraped the meat of p.a and filled it with this beauty!

  26. I am not much of a movie person..I have my fav. though like aamir and kamal and go to watch only when a movie is declared a hit or has earned great reviews. I am not that old, but I seem to have worn our of those usual running behind trees, usual rich girl poor boy stuff…My college friends used to think I am probably from some other planet who does like to go to theaters and watch a movie. I love music though and can listen a lot but no patience with movies with same concept….

    I agree wholeheartedly with the changing schemas of old times to new. Right now our films seem to have become downright bold…Thats so sad!

    One good thing out of this is , We get to see some fab pineapple rice :) I loved your idea of rice in a pineapple. Wonderful concept for bollywood 101. Its so classy and elegant.

    But ( I may be totally wrong! or probably am!) i see a change in the pic style. Something seems to be different..cant place a finger..but this (last )pic of urs does not carry the usual trademark of you guyz..changed camera or something? different tech?

    we have a different picture now.

  27. sunita says:

    That was a very fun read…and yes, as musi mentioned, it’s ‘arz’;-)…I’ve watched them all, probably even before the fifties :-)

  28. Vani says:

    Bollywood 101 was hilarious! Loved the “arse” translation & with Asha Parekh & Nanda, who’s “requests” were the biggest in the industry barring maybe, Tun-tun! :)
    Pineapple fried rice looks yum & beautifully presented too!

  29. shub says:

    “Translation: “Lord, I come to you with a small arse.” I’m laughing my arse off here! hilarious :D

  30. Ivy says:

    I have never seen Bollywood film before but I’ve seen all this in the Greek movies of the 60s and 70s who seemed to be copying the Indian movies. Lots of tears shed, rich guy, poor girl or vice versa and even Indian songs were written with Greek lyrics and were a huge success. ?he recipe sounds Great, I love pineapple in recipes.

  31. Elizabeth says:

    This Bollywood post was hysterical, especially your Q&A.

  32. nandita says:

    funny but…
    “You commute for a hour in the heat to get to the damn theatre. Then you buy a ticket in the black market.” this says you’ve been away from here for ages!
    :)

    yeah. more than a decade. – b.

  33. Maya says:

    Had fun reading this post :) ..Loved the presentation of the rice. Cool recipe.

  34. Miri says:

    Growing up we were kept well away from Bollywood movies – yes even the one Sunday evening movie on DD! So, I was quite out of touch with Bollywood till I reached college. It took me quite sometime to understand when people alluded to dialogues and songs….
    Even now I watch two Hindi movies a year and this might go up considering there are more and more thinking people making movies on small budgets for the “multiplex” crowd. Life in a Metro, Iqbal and Dor were really good attempts at doing something out of the ordinary….

    Thanks for the 101 – the “arse” joke I have been cracking for the past decade and it never seems to go out of fashion! :)

    I hate pineapple in my food except for dessert! So, does it taste like a Hawaiian salad?!

    Miri

    i haven’t tasted a hawaiian salad

  35. Kalai says:

    Gorgeous fried rice!! :)

  36. P says:

    link also to the good songs & movies of Bollywood, yaar ..

  37. dee says:

    Wow this recipe is truly a bollywood dish!! Looks amazing .. I am still thinking if im a movie buff.. cant sit through a movie for even 2 hrs , have to get up atleast 3 times… I watch them like a watch a soap , 45 min of a movie everyday .. takes me about 3-4 days to watch one!!

  38. Namratha says:

    “My Boob”…LOL can’t stop laughing at the one! Love the pineapple fried rice, this was one dish my Dad loved to order every time we went to our fav chinese restaurant back in India.

  39. soumya says:

    Amazing blog..simply hilarious.I am visiting the jugalbandi.info for the first time and this one makes me a frequent visitor now.
    The pineapple fried rice looks tasty.Will Try it soon!!

    Soumya

  40. Bharti says:

    What a fun blog! Will be regular now!

  41. Cynthia says:

    You had me laughing so hard and then I felt sad, I can’t remember when last I saw a Bollywood Film :(

  42. Nabeela says:

    Just last night an Amercan friend of mine was asking about Indian movies. I thought of sending her this link…then realized she might not get the jokes!
    I loved the ‘my boob’ part……lol

  43. manju says:

    I’m never sure if I’m going to learn something, laugh at something, or marvel at something when I come here…usually, like with this post, it’s all 3!!

  44. Meg Wolff says:

    Hi Bee,
    I enjoyed this post about Bollywood. I also liked your favorite Bollywood number! I think the 60′s and seventies would probably be good too. I liked your analogy of Bollywood and fried rice. Thanks for the 101!

  45. Kiran says:

    Hey, Great Site!
    I love this post and now I’m craving some pineapple rice!

    You and your readers might like this video that a friend sent me. It’s a Bollywood version of an iTunes spot.
    Keep up the good work blogging!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNhBwA7BLho

    - Kiran

  46. bhavani says:

    awesome post. just browsing thru for a good recipe. unusual recipe, great summary of bollywood and gorgeous pictures.



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