DURING MY TWENTIES AND THIRTIES, I enjoyed slow moving, European ‘art house’ movies, in which little or nothing happened. Good examples of these included “Claire’s Knee” and “Kings of the Road”.
After marrying my Indian wife in 1993, my tastes in film changed radically. She introduced me to Bollywood films. These visually dazzling productions are brilliant. Most of them incorporate moral and political messages; romance; religion; adventure; tragedy; comedy; music and song; dancing; daredevil acts; and much more. As they are designed to be seen all over India by people who speak a wide variety of differing languages, they are produced in such a way that they can be followed by audiences who cannot understand even one word of Hindustani. In fact, because of this and their visual appeal, they are popular all over the world.
Recently, we saw the new Bollywood film PATHAAN in Bhuj. It is one of the most exciting action films I have ever seen; it makes James Bond films seem static in comparison. The audience in the Surmandir cinema screamed and yelled at every possible moment, especially when the principal male star Shah Rukh Khan appeared on the screen. Both the film and the audience were fun to experience. The film was so gripping that we left the cinema feeling exhausted.
My late mother lost two front teeth in a car crash in South Africa during the 1930s. Ever since then, she was both a nervous driver and an apprehensive passenger.
In the early 1960s, my mother was one of the first drivers in the UK to have seat belts installed in our car, which, like all other cars at the time, was sold without seat belts.
When I used to go on holidays with my parents, we used taxis wherever we were: water taxis in Venice and automobiles elsewhere. The places we visited most often were Italy and Greece. In both places, drivers manoeuvred at higher speeds than in the UK and far more adventurously. I remember one occasion in Milan (Italy) in the 1960s where our taxi driver drove along the tram lines on the wrong side of the road, so that trams headed straight towards us. And, in Athens (Greece), if a driver saw a space on the road some hundred yards ahead, he would take all kinds of risks to reach it. In all the years that I travelled with my parents in taxis we were only involved in one accident – no injuries, fortunately.
Well, all this dangerous dashing about in dare-devil taxis did not do anything positive for my mother’s nerves. Consequently, wherever we went she made sure that she knew how to say ‘slow down’ in the local language. Whenever I am being driven in India, where traffic is very exciting to say the least, I often think that had my mother experienced it, she would have died of fright. Oh, by the way, the Hindustani word for ‘slow down’ is ‘aasthe‘.