The French writer and film scholar Ophelie Wiel has recently unveiled her book Rendezvous about Hindi Cinema taking the readers to the Bollywood’s backstage. The book in total contains 20 interviews of people, who work in different capacities of the Hindi film industry. As per Wiel, the first Hindi film she watched while in France was Devdas, back in the year 2003.
At its best, the Hindi film industry, or Bollywood, is a land of endless promises; at its worst, an undemocratic space characterised by nepotism and prejudice. Undoing this elusive middle-path, the French writer and film scholar Ophelie Wiel has taken onto a recent book release, Rendezvous with Hindi Cinema, transporting the readers to Bollywood’s backstage.
In a series of 20 interviews conducted with a number of well-known names in the Indian cinema — including the music composer Sneha Khanwalkar, directors Dibakar Banerjee and Onir, film critic Mayank Shekhar, casting director Atul Mongia, writer Anjum Rajabali, actresses Kalki Koechlin and Richa Chadha — Wiel has painted a complete holistic picture of the modern-day Bollywood that seems accommodating both- the insiders and the outliers in the similar form.
Ophelie Wiel, in an interview with a media platform shared her reason of picking Hindi cinema, Bollywood as her subject, she said, “I saw Devdas by pure chance in 2003. A friend of mine, who was a big fan of musicals like me, asked me whether I would like to go watch it with her at the theatre in Lille, the city where I was studying. I knew nothing about this film or where it came from, only that there was music and dance in the movie – something I’ve always loved. And I fell in love with the whole experience, I was amazed that even as a movie-buff, I had never heard of an industry which had so many fans around the globe and made so many films! I started to watch whichever Indian movie I could find (mostly pirated DVDs, since most Indian movies didn’t get a release in France).”
Wiel further added, “I worked in Italy for the Florence Indian Film Festival, discovered even more Indian films from all parts of India, and then decided I wanted to write about it, since there was not much to find, even in France, the country where film criticism is like a religion. In 2005 I went to India for a month, did my research, fell in love with the country, and then for four years, I went back and forth until I could find a job in Mumbai, working as a teacher. That’s when my first book about Indian cinema happened. It was published in 2011. I used to say that at the end, this was all because of Shah Rukh Khan.”
Are you ready to check this book to get the insights of Bollywood?