Bollywood is seductive, epic, magical, profoundly Indian and yet somehow also universal. Once you've been sucked into this gaudy, glorious world, you can never leave. I didn't grow up wanting to write about Hindi films. After finishing college, I was stumbling around, trying to find a passion when a professor suggested that I join a film magazine she was working with. It was supposed to be a stop-gap arrangement, something to fill in the hours while I found a real job. Nineteen years later, I'm still here.
I know all sides of this world. I've partied with glamorous film stars; keenly observed directors and technicians wrestle with material; lived with armed body-guards because my director husband faced mafia threats; and seen famous faces fade into oblivion. It's a strange, surreal business, brimming with fiercely talented people, outrageous ideas, dashed hopes and corruption. Bollywood is the ultimate dream factory, churning out fantasies for an estimated 3.6 billion people around the globe.
Bollywood stars are venerated as modern day Gods. For lovers of Hindi film, Shah Rukh Khan is bigger than Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt combined. I was once doing a telephone interview with him as he strolled down Oxford Street in London. Suddenly he said, "I've got to go?..I'm being mobbed." I've seen middle-aged women become giddy fans around him and adult men prostrate themselves before him. He sometimes gets love letters written in blood and once he had a woman show up at his door accompanied by her husband - she said she wanted only to wash his feet and drink the water. Bollywood arouses a passion and reverence that is unique. It isn't just a style of filmmaking. It's a culture and a religion. In my book, King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema, I've attempted to paint a portrait of this incredible, super sized cinematic world. I love Bollywood and I hope you will too.