When I watch Indian movies…oh, wait. I don’t.

The popular website PostSecret featured a brown-tinged confession this week (Thanks, Niki):

another brown secret

So far, three of you have sent this postcard in as a tip, which is hardly surprising; you mutineers love to discuss these secrets which have been expressed as art.

For those who are unfamiliar with the site:

PostSecret is an ongoing community mail art project, created by Frank Warren, in which people mail their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. Select secrets are then posted on the PostSecret website, or used for PostSecret’s books or museum exhibits.
The simple concept of the project was that completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they had never previously revealed. No restrictions are made on the content of the secret; only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before. Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams. [wiki]

When I first saw this, I oddly wondered if a non-Desi might have submitted it. I think my guess was inspired by the artist choosing to use the term “Indian” movies instead of “Bollywood”. Then again, maybe this secret-poster watches Tollywood, Mollywood or Kollywood fill-ums, but didn’t bother getting so specific, since they’re relatively obscure in the U.S. Part of me also thought “Bolly” because of the image used (is that Aamir Khan?). That’s all I’ve got. ;)

Meanwhile, the person peering over my shoulder hypothesized that whoever sent it in might be a second-gen American who is being pressured in to an arranged alliance. What do all of you think? Interestingly enough, in at least one instance, the person who created the postcard we wrote about was a reader who later de-lurked to debunk assumptions. I’m cool with that happening, too. Let the idle conjecture begin…

56 thoughts on “When I watch Indian movies…oh, wait. I don’t.

  1. It could be a non-desi, as you mentioned, since Bolly movies are huge all over, especially in Russia and the far east – maybe an eastern orthodox woman, a jewish gal, or a serbian siren is also fearful of being set up by her well intentioned parents. The concept of ‘arranged marriage’ (or at least being introduced by family) is not a desi only phenomenon.

    Do you think it is a visual poem – more fiction than reality ? I can see this format being used by the creative to express their talents in a new format – emotions can be very lyrical.

  2. Meanwhile, the person peering over my shoulder hypothesized that whoever sent it in might be a second-gen American who is being pressured in to an arranged alliance. What do all of you think?

    You are hypothesis is completely backwards.

    In India, the film industry as a whole is referred as “Indian film industry“, be it from Bombay, Madras or Calcutta, since, they (right from actors to technicians) cross cities and language all the time – work on project where they are. Satyajit Ray directed a movie in Hindi (Shatranj Ka Khilari) but he would give all the directions, and all the notes in English.

    The term “Bollywood” did not even existed 10-15 years ago, it is a term that arose with western media taking note of mainstream film industry (other than Satyajit Ray, and other art house movie makers, and Raj Kapoor too), and advent of internet (B = Bombay + ollywood from Hollywood) where suddenly Indian films were being discussed and all. You will never see any older director or actor use the term Bollywood. For that matter, 90% of Indians would never heard the term Bollywood. For them, a Hindi film is just a Hindi film or film from Bombay.

    In my place in Sakotithanda (near Meerut Railway Crossing), if you used the word “Bollywood“, they would not even know what you are talking about, and go into uncontrolled laughing and hysteria. A common man or woman in India never uses the term Bollywood in their lingua franca.

    Now to the card, I do cannot comment anything insightful.

  3. I meant: You hypothesis is completely backwards.

    Also, per se, there is no Bollywood image, even though the picture above is from Lagaan.

    It could easily been from Marathi, Bhojpuri, Bengali film.

    Again, the card picture or words do not give any clue about origins.

  4. 1 · GurMando said

    Do you think it is a visual poem – more fiction than reality ?

    Well if they adhere to the guidelines on PostSecret, they’re supposed to be true. :) The wiki entry I quoted in the post said:

    No restrictions are made on the content of the secret; only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before.

    Having pasted that, I have occasionally wondered if some of the secrets really are true, which I don’t think is all that rare a reaction to the site. Some of the submissions…you almost hope they aren’t true.

    2 · Kush Tandon said

    For that matter, 90% of Indians would never heard the term Bollywood. For them, a Hindi film is just a Hindi film or film from Bombay.

    Well, I learned something today! I’m not Indian, I’m of Indian descent, so I don’t know the things you or others do. :)

    I guess this bolsters the idea that the person might be first-gen, then. I never hear MY peers refer to “Indian movies”; they always get specific, i.e. “Tamil movies” etc. I do the same thing unless I’m referring to movies from…Bollywood. I think of movies like “Little Zizou” or “Amal” or “Pather Panchali” as “Indian”, since they are art-house vs. from Bombay. Okay this is confusing. I know, all of the above are Indian, technically. I now know that real Indian people apparently don’t call it Bollywood. I also know that my decision to avoid such films is probably a good one, since I clearly don’t understand even the nomenclature for them.

  5. Outside of India, it’s not really known that some South Indian actors make more than their northern “Bolly” counterparts. Southern Indians love their local movies actors sometimes more than the northern heroes. Some places are like Quebec – they only want their local-language movies played and celebrated. No white American would think of the darker skinned, larger moustacheod movie heroes of the South when they think of Bollywood, even though they may be bigger stars or earn more.

    Even if it is a first-gen, I really hope they don’t feel ‘forced’ into an arranged marriage. Maybe slightly goaded / guilted into thinking about it, but in the end, following their heart (which doesn’t preclude the introduced suitor).

  6. GurMando, I kind of get the Quebec comparison, but I’d also say that Tamizh cinema crosses over to all the Southern states. Not to the extent that Hindi cinema does where it has pretty much erased any of the other Northern industries, but Tamil stars are stars in AP, Kerala, and Karnataka too, which makes sense since the Tamil industry is the second biggest in India. It also has crossover appeal because of the way it takes in talent from all over the country.

  7. To me this seems like it is supposed be funny.

    the phrase “Before I am forced into an arranged marriage” means that the person is not yet being forced into any marriage and is just thinking about the future.

  8. artist choosing to use the term “Indian” movies instead of “Bollywood”.

    amir khan is quite well known among india’s neighbors y’know and it aint burma that i speek of.

  9. for that matter, why should all conjectures be heteronormative. i think this is a young pakistani lady of the gay. an arranged marriage will be an abomination twice over. :-) rastafarugula.

  10. If it wasn’t clear from the post, I’m more interested in hearing what you guys think of the postcard/what your theories are, than having you address mine. We all know mine suck. :) But what do YOU think when you see this? Who do YOU think sent it, etc.

  11. I interpreted it as a white person wishing they had some ethnic flavor in a liberal multicultural way. The embarrassing secret or whatever comes from the realization that this fantasy is perverse in that it both collapses a culture into something shallow like movies and it takes something serious that some people actually have to deal with, like arranged marriages, as the object of desire.

    The whole postsecret thing seems too angsty and quirky for it to be real for me. As visual poems they work a lot better and can even be provocative like this one.

  12. oh. and it’s definitely a female hand. thiss ornate floral rendering didnt come from a guy. for instance, i write in courier bold font and no linkage among letters, much.the.way.william.shatner.speeks. the paw is somewhat childish though. either someone who’s still in high school or… wait a minute. i am revealing my age. i actually used to write essays in school. never mind. that said, my spidey sense tells me this was written on a long boring commute where one actually has space to sit and doodle. another reason why i think the lady is young. probably doesnt have a drivers’ license and took public transit. i think this was BART. give me a couple more minutes and i’ll tell you her name and where she lives

  13. It does almost sound like someone writing as a character – if it is really from the author – I feel it is more of a melancholy statement – not a real fear of ‘arranged marriage’ – more of a boring life without love, or of never finding a real love. A 1st or even 2nd gen-er in their 30s, who keeps getting reminded of her age, with relatives and parents offering to fix her up.

  14. 7 · Lea said

    GurMando, I kind of get the Quebec comparison, but I’d also say that Tamizh cinema crosses over to all the Southern states. Not to the extent that Hindi cinema does where it has pretty much erased any of the other Northern industries, but Tamil stars are stars in AP, Kerala, and Karnataka too, which makes sense since the Tamil industry is the second biggest in India. It also has crossover appeal because of the way it takes in talent from all over the country.

    Lea, actually, I’m not sure if the crossover analogy applies to Tamil cinema and the South. For example, Telugu cinema produces more films than the Tamil Film industry, and has greater box office receipts if you exclude Malaysia. If you’re talking about global appeal, however, then we’re looking at a diff story: apparently Rajnikanth is huge in japan

    Either way, I think with his new party, Chiranjeevi just might have edged out Rajnikanth in the obsessed fan sweepstakes…heh

    Shatranj ke Khiladi is a money movie though

  15. I live in NYC. I’m not Indian. I watch a lot of Indian movies. (Hindi and other, old and new.)

    I think the postcard writer is a young woman, maybe African-American, maybe “Caucasian,” who has the whole fantasy of arranged marriage/saviour when she watches a Bollywood movie. I say African-American because of the lettering, which I think might be a cousin of a kind of tagging style [graffiti].

  16. I say African-American because of the lettering, which I think might be a cousin of a kind of tagging style [graffiti].

    . . .

    Really?

  17. She came to US to work as a project manager. She has not watched any ‘indian movie’, other than Bollywood. Her intended audience is mainstream america. she is afraid whether people here would connect to her, if she used ‘Bollywood’. Bollywood was not a term she was familiar with during her younger years. Hence the term ‘Indian movies’ and ‘main Charecter’. She watched Lagaan in a movie theater in India(2001, when she was 20) during her college days. She never had a boyfriend in India, she is not that interested in arranged marriage. She is also not involved in typical US DBD seen at all. By now, She is 28 and married to a white guy. The card was her feeling at the age of 26(4 years of life in US) I know this girl. She was a friend of mine and I am sure she is not reading SM.

    Would non desi girls think of Aamir Khan as sexy?

  18. I too think this is a non-desi. I agree that the handwriting suggests a female, and the t is indeed quite graffiti-esque. Maybe the artist is simply saying that when she watches an Indian movie, she instinctively puts herself in the female lead’s shoes and while watching the movie, prays that the hero come and rescue the female lead before a forced arranged marriage.

    Also in India, we may not say Bollywood, but we do not say “Indian film” either. Where I come from, the adjective would definitely be “Hindi” or the language rather than “Indian”. Also, Bollywood is in fact quite a common term these days since all the TV channels use it.

  19. amir khan is quite well known among india’s neighbors y’know and it aint burma that i speek of.

    I am sure it feeds the vanity of pakistani (and perhaps also afghani) pathans/pashtuns that from Dilip Kumar (aka Yusuf Khan) to Sharukh Khan (aka “King of Bollywood”), muslim pathans have dominated Bollyhood.

  20. When I watch Indian movies…oh, wait. I don’t.

    I never was really exposed to many indian movies growing up, but there one that I can remember my mom watched a few times. It was the movie where the poor guy fell in love with the rich girl and and the girl father didn’t approve. So he sent 8 of his thugs after the poor guy, but the poor guy was able to beat them all up by himself and the girl father at the end of the movie was ok with the relationship after he saw how much the poor guy loved his daughter. Does anybody know what movie that was.

    I can also recall a movie where some guy sliced off some other guys 2 arms with swords but at the end the guys with no arms had his buddy who was Aishwarya Rai father in law kill the guy who had the 2 swords. I saw this movie a couple times has a kid.

  21. What do you mean non-desis wouldn’t be attracted to Aamir Khan? Well, the younger Aamir Khan. I’ve watched Raja Hindustani eight times. I skip over the stupid parts.

    Right now, I’d prefer to be rescued from [anything] by Hrithik Roshan. Imraan Khan would do as well. Oh, or Ranbir Kapoor. Boredom, that’s it. I’d like to be rescued from boredom by any of the aforementioned :)

  22. My 3 cents: Definitely not from India. We always always say Hero :-) . Even today I say Hindi film or Tamil movies. And forced arranged marriages are certainly on the wan. Anybody who would have access to the wiki site would most probably be working and they would most probably be not forced into marriage. It would have to be somebody who watches Hindi movies and also note it is Lagaan, a movie easily available in Blockbuster and Hollywood Videos :-) .

  23. What is this? A rohrschach test. My 8 cents is definitely Indian–not even South Asian–second gen. As I said before,this is a rohrschach test.

    Would non desi girls think of Aamir Khan as sexy?

    Personally, I’d drool over Aamir just as long as he doesn’t open his mouth. Stupidity spoils everything and, well, I do think most of them are kinda stupid. I think non-Indians have fewer reservations about Indian guys than I do– so this is my long-winded response.

    khan sahab:

    that from Dilip Kumar (aka Yusuf Khan) to Sharukh Khan (aka “King of Bollywood”), muslim pathans have dominated Bollyhood.

    It is the outliers, though, Rajesh Khannna and Dharmendra come to mind, who were the dishiest.

  24. “What do you mean non-desis wouldn’t be attracted to Aamir Khan? “

    When I got a nose job, I gave them Aamir Khan’s picture and said make it like this. Not the best move in the world.

  25. “…probably doesnt have a drivers’ license and took public transit. i think this was BART. give me a couple more minutes and i’ll tell you her name and where she lives.”

    Good work Sherlock. I still don’t know what we’re supposed to find out here.

  26. I think the author of the secret is clearly female and she wrote “Indian movies” because she knew the intended PostSecret audience would be diverse. When I talk to my non-Indian friends, I refer to Bollywood movies as Indian. So it makes sense to me.

  27. Squaws these days have no respect for culture and tradition. The community is getting diluted and is on the verge of disappearing, and the youngsters don’t give a damn. Enough is enough! No more screenings of Pocahontas on the reservation from now on!

    (BTW what is this ‘Bollywood’ thing that Anna keeps talking about?)

  28. That is Aamir Khan and Gracy Singh as Bhuvan and Gauri from ‘Lagaan’ – which, ironically, contains no arranged marriage plot element whatsoever. This suggests non-desi, as Lagaan is often the first “Indian movie” most non-desis ever see. Plus, while its ludicrous to draw any connection between the handwriting and graffiti art and an african-american writer (it’s more jr. high notebook-doodling font than anything else) I do agree that the writer is not actually going into an arranged marriage. It’s totally an exotic damsel-in-distress fantasy like any other – like being rescued from a dragon, or a castle tower, or being rescued from kidnappers. She just has the good taste to fantasize about desis. ;)

  29. I can also recall a movie where some guy sliced off some other guys 2 arms with swords but at the end the guys with no arms had his buddy who was Aishwarya Rai father in law kill the guy who had the 2 swords. I saw this movie a couple times has a kid.

    That would be Sholay. Probably THE most iconic film from the Hindi film industry/bollywood – whatever you choose to call it. It’s a personal favourite. :)

    Wait, or were you being sarcastic?

  30. My theory is that someone wanted their own special spotlight on SM – probably Manju! He’s just dying to talk about his pretty handwriting and all.

  31. Wait, or were you being sarcastic?

    No, I had no idea what the name of the movie was?

  32. 39 · bess said

    My theory is that someone wanted their own special spotlight on SM – probably Manju! He’s just dying to talk about his pretty handwriting and all.

    The ladies do love my strokes, Bess.

  33. I can also recall a movie where some guy sliced off some other guys 2 arms with swords but at the end the guys with no arms had his buddy who was Aishwarya Rai father in law kill the guy who had the 2 swords. I saw this movie a couple times has a kid.

    Yeah, I saw that one.

  34. at first i thought it was a secret longing to be rescued by the opposite sex in general, something one might not admit to out loud because that’s arguably pathetic and/or degrading, but then i read the bottom arranged marriage part…

    my first thought was that it was a second generationer trying to be artistic, but it might not be. Indian movies sounds a bit non-intimate to me, but the alternatives are Bollywood or Hindi. Bollywood also sounds un-intimate and the writer might not have wanted to say Hindi because it would make it less universal.

  35. It is obvious what is going on here. The girl is dreaming of getting married to a handsome bollywood khan like Aamir who will rescue her from an arranged marriage to some desi dork.

  36. I agree with this comment above:

    “Maybe the artist is simply saying that when she watches an Indian movie, she instinctively puts herself in the female lead’s shoes and while watching the movie, prays that the hero come and rescue the female lead before a forced arranged marriage.”

    Kind of like when I imagine I am the one dancing with Fred Astaire in Funny Face, or something. Okay, I never do that, that would make me a loser.

    *I think a bunch of those post secrets are made up. People never follow the rules.

  37. 27·Suki Dillon said

    It was the movie where the poor guy fell in love with the rich girl and and the girl father didn’t approve. So he sent 8 of his thugs after the poor guy, but the poor guy was able to beat them all up by himself and the girl father at the end of the movie was ok with the relationship after he saw how much the poor guy loved his daughter. Does anybody know what movie that was.

    That sounds like almost every Bollywood movie ever made.

    I find it hilarious that there are some parents who let their young (under 13) kids watch Hindi movies but won’t let them watch Hollywood movies because they have too much sex and violence. Hindi movies are just as violent as Hollywood movies. I wonder if those parents cover their kids eyes whenever there’s violence or nudity in a Hindi movie. When I was about 10, I saw a bit of a Hindi movie my mom was watching; one of the scenes had showed the villain breaking into the heroine’s room, pushing her on the bed, and the screen fades while she screams. Imagine having to explain that to a young kid.

  38. It sounds like a non-desi who’s tired of the dating world, and fantasizes about the non-commitmentphobe guys in Indian movies, because she seems to keep running into the “He’s Just Not That Into You” types.

    I find it hilarious that there are some parents who let their young (under 13) kids watch Hindi movies but won’t let them watch Hollywood movies because they have too much sex and violence….Imagine having to explain that to a young kid.

    That’s bad, but I think I might have had it worse. Imagine the actress doing “item girl numbers”, usually involving floor-humping, being your cousin.

    No white American would think of the darker skinned, larger moustacheod movie heroes of the South when they think of Bollywood, even though they may be bigger stars or earn more.

    I think the person who reposted this video does.

  39. 45 · onparkstreet said

    *I think a bunch of those post secrets are made up. People never follow the rules.

    Bingo. This is 2009. Who would send hand-written postcards to a blog? Plus, nobody writes like that anyway: the style is not natural at all, it’s all totally made up. A sort of True Confessions for the Internet Age, written by a blogger with a lame imagination.

  40. When I watch Indian movies, I pray that…. the freaking movie self destructs midway. Most of them are unwatchable to me other than small clips to make fun of them. It’s like being sentenced to watch Boy Bands and Britney Spears act in movies. And each song sequence has a hero on steroids who competes with his backup dancers as to who can gyrate faster.