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Mahesh Bhatt, Dr. Ouma Seebaluck and Rahul Vora at the book launch

By Rajeev Mokashi

Call this Dr. Ouma Seebaluck‘s dedicated love affair with Indian cinema in general and Bollywood in particular. This is a delightful book recommendation from my side, which makes compelling reading by celebrating the genesis of Indian cinema. Very poignant and meticulous.

Book releases are the highlight of a writer’s endeavor — an exciting opportunity to showcase countless hours of hard work and determination with their research, friends, dear beloved ones, and their overall support groups. (Over and beyond a modest way to generate book sales!)

Continuing the celebration of Mauritius’s 55th Independence Day, Air Mauritius and Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority presented the exclusive launch event of Dr Ouma Seebaluck‘s book ‘Bollywood and Its Global Impact.’ The author was joined by ace director Mahesh Bhatt, who added the extra heft, and actor/producer Rahul Vora, who summed up as a moderator and speaker for an evening of in-person excerpt readings at Some Place Else in Mumbai.

Bollywood and its global impact
The book “Bollywood And Its Global Impact”

“I’m awestruck by her devotion; the book is like a textbook. A child born in Mauritius and brought up by her father with a fascination for Indian cinema — the sound, images, and characters that blend into her unconscious — then to come do research and then write a book is truly terrific.” This book deserves to sit on our table as a treasure, which we will keep with us locked and refer to whenever we feel the need. – Mahesh Bhatt

The playful onstage banter shared between the author and speakers was refreshingly tart. The evening unfolded with Rahul reading a few passages from the book. Dr. Ouma has chronically recorded the entire evolution of Bollywood from its inception—from the silent era to the recent celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema. She has painstakingly researched the interesting link by tracing the genesis of cinema. Surprisingly, cinema, when it was first shown by the Lumiére Brothers at the Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris, coincidentally carried with it a reference to India.

She delves further into detail about how movies first came to India in 1896, when a ship sailing to Australia across the Indian Ocean carrying the Lumière Brothers movie hit a slight snag mid-way and was diverted to Bombay (now Mumbai) in India. During that docked time, and making up for the lost time (and money), Hotel Watson was hired for a month, and thus began the never-ending association of Indian cinema.

Mahesh Bhatt’s infectiously ebullient personality seemed intact. He went about dropping pearls on how priviledged he felt belonging to this fraternity called “Bollywood” and his 53-year-long working relationship with this industry, where both his parents were a part of it. He revealed how sound was responsible for his birth and how the evolution of cinema contributed to his personal life.

In his words, ‘my father was a shipman and worked as a sound engineer on the ship. One day his brother called him and said, “Why don’t you come to Bombay as sound has come to movies and you may have a glorious future?” And that brought him to Bombay, and that’s how he met my mother. Similar to the narrative of the first screening taking place at Watson being purely accidental, likewise, my birth was purely accidental.

He further remarked that the story of a nation is the story of its people. From a fraternity that has gone through the highs and lows, the phenomenal heights Indian cinema has reached, citing Keeravani winning the Oscar to Deepika presenting one, the global impact is colossal. Our culture already has the vitality, and all that we need to do to is bring India back into Indian movies, and that’s what RRR did.

Summing up very aptly, Mahesh lauded Ouma for launching her book on a day when Indian cinema had finally made a global impact. “And I’d say that these are the kinds of miracles that take place, and I think we are the stories that we tell each other. A generation that has lived through its story hands over the baton to the next generation. Storytellers will keep on coming and telling their own stories, and I think each one of us must sing a song and be gracious enough to step aside and let the next generation sing their songs; that’s how nations evolve, cultures evolve, and the world evolves.”

Guests at the book launch
Guests at the book launch

On her part, author Ouma shared how the book is a product of her PhD research on the role of Bollywood in promoting India’s cultural diplomacy and soft power. And while researching, she realized that the softest of the soft powers of India was Bollywood. After reading the book, we will all agree with her. TheGlitz.Media wishes Dr. Ouma and book all success!

Three anecdotes stirred up in the discussion of Bollywood’s global impact are worth mentioning.

1. China awarded the ‘Best Singer’ award to Mithun Chabraborty for the song “I’m a Disco Dancer.” That was super hilarious!

2. Despite being the US President, Barrack Obama wasn’t too alien to Bollywood and its theatrics. On his trip to India, he once crooned Shah Rukh Khan’s dialogue, “Bade bade deshon mein aisi chotti chotti baatein… hoti rehti hai.” It goes to show how Bollywood has deeply influenced even the up-and-coming.

3. Finally, how an Indian journalist working for “Time” magazine covering the Iraq war was on the verge of being shot, but a coincidental mention of Shammi Kapoor saved his skin and sanity as the Iraqi Army General who was to shoot him happened to be a huge Shammi fan.

The Mauritian Muse

Words can’t express the beautiful expanse of the island nation of Mauritius. Called the melting pot of cultures, Mauritius is known for its pleasant tropical climate and spectacular living conditions. All this has bolstered the country’s tourism status to the next level. Mauritius is like a prized truffle that everyone wants to devour. Visit Mauritius! Fly Air Mauritius!

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