• Artwork by Fahad Faizal and Sunaina Coelho
  • Artwork by Fahad Faizal and Sunaina Coelho

In Six Conversations,

By Kuzhali Manickavel


Conversation 1

D: Why don’t you write about a Bollywood movie and make a lot of references to obscure Japanese cinema and use words like ‘post-colonialism’ and ‘gender tropes’?


K: I don’t know what a ‘trope’ is.


D: I don’t think you need to know what it means to write about it. What movie have you seen recently?


K: Bal Brahmachari, Maa, Kangan and Krodh.  At the same time.


D: Ok. So maybe not that.


K: It was superintense and there was dancing.


D: It’s weird that you’re watching these movies when you can’t actually understand Hindi.


K: How is that weird?


D: You know when they say something in Hindi? And you can’t understand what they’re saying because it’s in Hindi? And you watch the whole movie anyway?


K: Yeah?


D: Yeah, that.


K: How about I write something like ‘Why I Love Bollywood Even Though I Can’t Understand Hindi and Don’t Really Know What Anyone is Saying’.


D: I think you can only do that if you’re white.


K: So now what?


D: I think you should write something called ‘Bollywood Post-Colonial Perspectives Kurosawa Gender Tropes’.


K: But I don’t know what a trope is!!


D: Then write something mean about white people but with Bollywood and colloquial Tamil and ‘yougaiz’.


K: You’re not helping.


D: Write a story then.Your usual what-the-fuck stuff but in Bollywood.


K: I’m going to talk to someone else who isn’t you.


D: Write about a dead girl watching a Bollywood movie. And there are insects. Eating her left eye. AND IT’S RAINING BABIES!!! Hello?



Conversation 2

R: Write about how you deleted all the Bon Iver I gave you to make room for your Munni Badnaam remixes. Write about how you told me that you thought Bon Iver was Bon Jovi.


K: They are both Bon-Bon, it’s an honest mistake!


R: Your taste in music is gross.


K: Why are you so racist against Bollywood?


R: Why are you the only person on the planet looking for a remix version of Don’t Touch My Ghaghariya?


K: Did I mention that I found this Trini-chutney remix of Show Me Your Jalwa? I can send—


R: Good-bye.



Conversation 3

A: You should write about that time on Masterchef when Dalvinder won something and then everyone did that dance and they said it was a Bollywood dance and it made us feel embarrassed for them.


K: And they made that noise.


A: Right, that weird falsetto police siren thing.


K: I actually thought they were doing a cultural Australian dance. Then they said it was a Bollywood dance and now I want to know what movie it’s from.


A: I think it’s from Alice in Wonderland. The 1999 version. The cook does something similar when the Duchess sings that song about beating her boy when he sneezes. By the by, have you seen the So You Think You Can Dance Bollywood segments?


K: No.


A: You should.


K: I’m scared to.


A: Dude, you should totally watch them. Open a clip now on YouTube.


K: Ok, hang on, let me just— aw man.


A: Whatwhatwhat?


K: There is a dude with a big blue bindi on his forehead and he’s dressed like Aladdin.


A: Ok don’t watch that. Close it and don’t watch it.


K: Maybe I should just find out what a trope is and write that Gender Bollywood Post-Colonial Kurosawa thing.


A: A trope is a kind of fish, no? I think it is. I think I ate some once.



Conversation 4

S: You HAVE to write about how some people in this one number country watch Bollywood ironically. Write about how that’s a thing.


K: That’s when you act like you like Bollywood but you actually don’t but you act like you do to prove how much you don’t. Right?


S: Kinda.


K: Why isn’t that called lying?


S: Actually you should write about how some people really do like Bollywood and act like they don’t and then act like they do to prove that they don’t. When they actually do.


K: What does irony mean anyway? Is it like a trope?


S: Or you could write about how when you’re watching Hum and enjoying like anything some asshole will ask if you’re really watching it.


K: As opposed to artificially watching it?


S: As opposed to watching “something good”. Like Slumdog Millionaire.


K: You wouldn’t know what a trope is, would you?


S: It’s a riddle, isn’t it? Or a cave made of tarpaulin.



Conversation Five

N: I read with great interest your recent post on the actress Jayanthi.


K: I wrote a post on the actress Jayanthi?


N: I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but when I was in India—


K: You’ve mentioned it. Repeatedly.


N: And I was such a great fan of the cinema there. Great food, great people. Really loved the energy.


K: Who is actress Jayanthi?


N: You just wrote about her.


K: I wrote about Gandhi Jayanthi.


N: Ok. And is that someone different?


K: Little bit, yah.


N: Member of the Gandhi family perhaps?


K: I should go before I say something really mean.




K: Okbai.



Conversation 6

K: So a trope is, and I quote from the indisputable Wikipedia, “the use of figurative language in literature, or a figure of speech in which words are used in a sense different from their literal meaning”.


S: So what’s a gender trope then?


K: It’s all what I just said except with genders in it.


S: What does that mean?


K: I don’t know. I felt a lot better when I thought a trope was a fish.


S: So how are you going to link this to Bollywood?


K: Well I thought about it a lot and I’ve decided to call the piece ‘Post-colonial Perspectives and Gender Tropes in Bollywood and Also Kurosawa Yougaiz HAHA White People are so White’.


S: And?


K: And the actual piece will be about this dead girl watching a Bollywood movie and there are insects eating her left eye and it’s raining babies.


S: This will make everyone like you.


K: Really?


S: No, I just thought I’d say something nice to you today.


K: Aw, thanks.


S: Don’t mention.


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Son of a handpump, what the Fakhri?

Why I Can’t Think of Anything to Write on Bollywood

December 2012
By Kuzhali Manickavel

Kuzhali Manickavel is the author of a short story collection called Insects Are Just like You and Me except Some of Them Have Wings and an echapbook called Eating Sugar, Telling Lies, both of which are available from Blaft Publications. While she has watched Bal Brahmachari, Maa, Kangan and Krodh at the same time, she only did that once.