Aviral YouTube video of a policeman lip-syncing and dancing to the song “Chaiyya Chaiyya” by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan not only turned officer Norman Kamaru into an instant celebrity, but has also renewed the country’s love affair with Bollywood.
While Norman insists he is ready to return to his life as a Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officer in Gorontalo, Sulawesi, at the moment he is busy getting a taste of what life is like for a Bollywood star — hobnobbing with celebrities on TV and being mobbed by fans eager for an autograph. He is also working on producing his first single at the unfortunately named Big Knob Studio in Jakarta.
Indonesia’s Bollywood enthusiasts are waiting to see if the song — tentatively titled “Farhat’s Love,” after the song’s producer, attorney Farhat Abbas — can live up to the real thing and give the country its first homegrown Bollywood hit.
Bollywood is the informal name for India’s massive Hindi film industry. While Bollywood movies have always been wildly popular in India, in the last decade or so their appeal has spread well beyond the subcontinent. Bollywood actors such as Khan and Aishwariya Rai have become international celebrities. Even the makers of Hollywood musicals such as “Moulin Rouge” and the more recent “Burlesque” say they have been greatly influenced by the spectacle and staging of Bollywood dance numbers.
Indonesia is one of many countries in Asia with a thriving community of Bollywood film fanatics, who have been by Norman’s rise to fame.
Housewife Mely Dharmawan, a member of Indonesia’s Bollywood Fan Club, said Norman’s notoriety had generated a lot of buzz among local Bollywood fans. Members of different fan clubs have been meeting up to watch him during his recent television appearances.
“Some of us even went to watch and meet him after his performance on [the TV show] ‘Dahsyat’ a few weeks ago,” Mely said.
While Norman represents one aspect of Indonesia’s Bollywood crush, most local fans have been infatuated with the films long before YouTube even existed. They are a loyal bunch, with many of them belonging to clubs dedicated to specific Bollywood stars.
Jihan Sashira Usma runs the official Indonesian Shah Rukh Khan fan club. She said the inspiration for the fan club, as well as her obsession with Bollywood and Khan in particular, came from the movie “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,” one of Khan’s most popular films.
In fact, the movie was so famous here that if you were to mention its title to most Indonesians, they would almost certainly recognize it.
“At the time of its release [in 1998], the film completely changed my perception of Bollywood. It felt like they made it with their heart, with real sincerity,” Jihan said. In contrast, she described Indonesia’s current films as little more than “monotonous stories and horror flicks.”
Housewife Majarani Banyuaji is the head of a fan club dedicated to Bollywood actress Rani Mukerji. She said she was born into a Bollywood-loving family, which is how she first got into the genre.
“The variety of actors and actresses and the way they display their emotions through songs is what makes the films beautiful for me,” she said.
Then there is Desy Krisdianty, an IT student who prefers to go by her Bollywood-esque nickname, Dhesy Chie Bebo. She heads the country’s fan club for Mumbai-born actress Kareena Kapoor, who became wildly popular for her role in the 2004 film “Dev.”
Like her peers, Desy’s love for Bollywood’s films is rooted in their ability to evoke strong emotional reactions.
“When they cry [on screen], we automatically shed a tear. When they are rejoicing, we can’t help but get carried away in the same euphoria,” she said.
Of course, these aren’t fan clubs in name only. They engage in various Bollywood-themed activities. While the members’ personal lives keep them busy, Facebook and other social networking sites allow them to discuss the latest news about their favorite stars.
Jihan said she and her fellow “Rukhsters” gather every few months to organize Indian dance events or run Shah Rukh Khan-themed stands at bazaars. Naturally, they also attend every newly released Khan film together.
The piece of memorabilia Jihan is proudest of is her signed copy of Khan’s biography, “Loves Unlimited.”
“I got this book from a local Bollywood tabloid journalist who went to an award show and met Khan,” she said.
Majarani and her fellow “Ranians” all collect Mukerji merchandise such as films, posters and pins.
“A lot of us are also members of Bollywood theaters and dance studios,” she said. “Our club even has an official membership ID.”
Many Bollywood fans say their favorite films are usually not given a fair shake due to a belief that they are inherently inferior to Hollywood productions. It’s a stigma they are eager to change.
“[Bollywood films] have gone through a lot very positive changes,” Majarani said. “Since 1999, there has been a dramatic increase in their quality. The perception that these films are somehow of a lesser quality — made to be watched by the poor or less educated — has shifted.”
As Majarani points out, the variety of stories and genres in modern Bollywood cinema goes far beyond the simple love stories and over-the-top musicals of the past. The comedy “3 Idiots,” for example, became a huge hit here as well as in other countries around Asia.
There have also been other well-received Bollywood films, including “My Name is Khan” and “No One Killed Jessica,” which was inspired by the murder of New Delhi model Jessica Lall by a wealthy politician.
Jihan says that the global success of those films proves that, while their budgets are still far smaller than those of Hollywood movies, “[Bollywood films] are not the tacky productions many make them out to be.”
However, despite the industry’s growing influence, there are still many local film lovers who are dismissive of Bollywood fare.
Simone, who runs a local Web site dedicated to action-oriented Hollywood stars such as Jason Statham, said the few good Bollywood flicks were anomalies in a sea of shoddy productions.
“It’s all about long-winded dance sequences, which are fine on their own, but I don’t think they add anything to the films,” Simone said. “It’s certainly not necessary and, if I remember correctly from watching those films on TV years ago, really a chore to sit through.”
Similarly, Benito, who often reviews films on local Web sites, said he had trouble enjoying Bollywood movies due to their “indistinguishable storylines and boring music.” Like Simone, Benito said that, as a frequent club-goer, he had nothing against dancing and singing, but “the songs just aren’t good.” “They’re like dangdut — just trashy,” he said.
And that is perhaps where Norman comes back into play. With his much-beloved dance routine generating so much public interest, maybe — just maybe — non-Bollywood film fans will start to take the genre more seriously.
Jihan said the Bollywood fan community was thankful to Norman for allowing local fans to hold their heads a little higher. And, in an act of appreciation, Jihan said she and her fellow Khan fans gave Norman a Bollywood-themed package after meeting him at one his media appearances.
“We gave him two Shah Rukh Khan biographies, as well as a Khan ‘best of’ DVD with around 100 video clips of Khan,” she said
For Mely, Norman’s popularity raises the hope of seeing another one of her Bollywood dreams come true.
“Hopefully, producers here will see the potential for Bollywood in Indonesia, and maybe bring some Bolly artists to perform concerts here,” she said.
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post by : Liznia Energen Ai