Because that was what we saw! We saw a part of ourselves in those Bollywood movies. We saw a part of our own homes aspects of the drama that goes on between our families in those movies.
In some ways it was even like an escape route for us for from our daily lives where we often got made fun of for being Indian at school. We all for the most part secretly loved the Indian part of us and sometimes watching those movies just let us connect with the part of ourselves in a whole new way that we were not able to do our self.
It’s like we watched American movies to stay hip with our friends we watched Indian movies to connect with ourselves.
Personally speaking I was someone who only watched Indian movies because I always felt so Indian and I just felt like I love Indian movies way more than American movies or songs. I never got into old English songs but I DEFINITELY knew all of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar! Raj Kapoor songs are evergreen.
Seeing someone brown on screen, seeing someone even if it was just a fake character on screen, whose life and situations matched even 20% of yours made a huge difference.
Growing up Indian in America we basically had a unsaid rule of categorizing the different types of Indian Americans that there are:(according to my experience)
1) The coconut, someone who wanted almost nothing to do with Indian Culture and had no issues not being Indian. They may show up to a cultural event here’n there but Indian Culture was not on their forefront!
2) The Gulab Jamun: Indian on the outside and Inside. Extremely desi, religious, smart -they were going to Harvard.
3) The Coconut Barfi: Has white friends in school, a few brown, but at home is full on Desi! Won’t eat chole baturey at school but at home full on loves everything Indian. Two lives is an accurate description.
4) The Kaju Barfi: American in mindset but Desi by lifestyle and behavior. Indian everything was the way to go, bollywood gossip, bollywood everything, dance, Bharatanatyam, classical music, filter coffee, chai , I speak in my language in school with friends. Thats the way to go!
Jokes aside identity is probably one of the biggest areas that Indian American struggle with and Bollywood has definitely played a huge part in helping Indian Americans to stay connected with their roots in terms of representation. It’s amazing to know see Indian Americans rising as a community and really making a difference to create that environment and community for the next generation here in America as Indian Americans.
It’s also equally surprising for an Indian American still go to India and finding that many Indians in India don’t even connect on that same level of Bollywood-Indian because the environment is very different there being an Indian in India. I personally have met more Indians from India who know a lot of classic English and American songs and that’s just because that’s what they resonate with.
At the end of of the day we cannot judge anyone for what they like and don’t like because we are all just trying to find ourselves in this world!
The Indian Girl
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