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Hyde Park Stories

So a friend of mine here at Chicago recently recommended that I see Fanaa, the 2006 Kajol-Aamir Khan vehicle that saw the stunning Bengali actress return to the screen as if no time had passed since her last appearance in 2001.  Two days ago I did happen to watch it, and I was impressed.  Once you allow for the melodrama and improbable plot devices, which are inevitable, it is possible to appreciate it as a quite decent telling of a tragic love story.  The story is one that our 24-obsessed nation could enjoy: will love win out over jihadOne of the songs has a line that is striking, and quite in keeping with what I understand to be part of a long tradition in Islamic and Indian religious and love poetry:

tere pyaar me.n ho jaa’uu.n fanaa

May your love annihilate me!

Apparently, as I discovered recently, the state of Gujarat banned the film in response to Aamir Khan’s comments on the state of some farmers displaced by a dam project.  So, while I was up tonight at the local Dunkin’ Donuts, I got to talking to the man behind the counter there, and it turned out that he was from Gujarat.  That reminded me of the story about Fanaa.  From there we launched into a discussion of the movie and Kajol (the cousin of everyone’s favourite, Rani Mukherjee), pictured just below. 

We then came around to the latest Bollywood news about the engagement of Abishek Bachchan and Aishwariya Rai, which everyone seems intent on bringing up each time I talk about Indian movies.  If the Indian popular press is as unimaginative as ours, they will have already coined some hideous name like Abishwariya or Aishshek to describe their relationship. 

It’s odd the sorts of conversations you will have in this neighbourhood, but then I suppose it is rather odd that I would have known enough about Fanaa to use it to start a conversation.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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