Developing and preserving the city

Being foreigner 

Last Sunday, we went to Gateway of India that is built during the colonial period in Colaba, and something interesting happened. A crowd of people in Gate of India surrounds us and takes photo of us. Similarly, when we went to a school of Abyudaya for shooting, children in the school asked us to write down our names and email addresses on a piece of paper. This probably is because these people didn’t have chance to go to overseas, and they barely saw foreigners in their towns. Therefore, I’ve realized that I’m living in a country where has already gone through a globalization. I usually live half a year in the United States and in Korea for the rest of the year. While foreigners are often considered as norms in the U.S. since diverse ethnicities reside in the country, Koreans don’t show much attention to foreigners as much as Indians do. Therefore, being a foreigner in India gives me an impression of being a star in India because local people try to leave the evidence of seeing us by having photos or signatures.

Cultural gap

Along with contrasting reactions of different countries to foreigners, I’ve noticed that there are some cultural differences between Korea and India. Indeed, even though India and Korea are both Asian countries, there is a much more cultural gap between Korea and India than the United States. There are numerous American brands like Cheesecake Factory and Jamba Juice in Korea, and Koreans never wear traditional clothes except holidays. This shows that Korea is much more westernized than India. Korea has economically become affluent through westernization, so the standard of Korean economy may be higher than that of Indian. However, I believe Indian cultural value is more appreciable than Korean because India is developing the country while preserving its tradition. For example, many Indians still wear traditional customs like Saree or Lungi for casual clothing, and there are always vegetarian and non-vegetarian options in American restaurants like Pizza Hut or McDonald. In contrast to what I think, Indians can think their country has already been westernized. In my point of view as a foreigner, I believe India is not underdeveloped but less westernized than the countries I come from, and I admire the way India maintains its identity.

Mumbai, the city of economy

Indeed, India economy is drastically increasing, and Mumbai is an economic capital city. Colaba is one of the rich areas in Mumbai, and two grandiose buildings we saw last Sunday literally represent the wealth of Colaba: Taj Palace Hotel and Ambani’s Mumbai residence. The two biggest companies in India are TaTa Group and Reliance Industries that built those buildings. First, TaTa Group has seven business sectors ranging from engineering to energy. Jamsetji Tata, the founder of TaTa Group, ordered to build Taj Palace Hotel responding to racial discrimination. Tata was once refused to enter a hotel during the colonial period because he was not European. Some people claim that he first banned Europeans to stay in Taj Palace Hotel in order to revenge them. Moreover, Reliance Industries operates five major segments including retail and telecommunications. The chairman of Reliance Industries is Mukesh Ambani, and his house named Antilia is reputed for being the most expensive house in the world. The magnificence of Antilia can be predicted by the fact that his family is living in a private 27-storey building. Reliance Company has relationship with Bollywood because Anil Ambani, younger brother of Mukesh Ambani and the chairman of Reliance Group, is one of the largest producers in Bollywood film industry. Furthermore, there is an Indian biographical film Guru based on the founder of Reliance Group, Dhirubhai Ambani. Hence, I recommend this movie to people who would like to find out how Mumbai has become an economical capital city.

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The poster of Guru

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Being responsible

Lungi Dance is still lingering in my mind, but we’ve started our second project from the beginning of week two. The project aims to film a documentary of local NGO in India, so we’ve been divided into three groups shooting different NGOs or topics. Documentary is my favorite genre of media, so I’m thrilled to film an aspect of reality in other country. India is well-known for competitive education environment, but not all of Indian children are being educated because of poverty. The poverty is one of major social issues in India, and there is a strong correlation between lack of education and poverty. Poor people aren’t usually educated because they can’t afford studying, so they are less likely to get hired and again they don’t make much money. Therefore, poverty is passed to next generation and it is being continuous. In order to solve this big problem, SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai (SPJIMR) has a unique social intervention program called Abyudaya. Students from SPJIMR are required to mentor one child each from Municipal Schools in the vicinity. Recognizing Abyudaya‘s effort to encourage children’s talents and dreams, I’ve chosen Abyudaya among other NGOs for the documentary project. After gathering into groups and having a discussion, our team has decided to film about the impact of Abyudaya on children’s lives in general.

The shooting began with the interviews of mentors and mentees on Thursday, and I was in charge of sound design. It was my first time dealing with audio, and I thought it would be easy. Turn on the recorder and hold the boom mike. That’s it. However, as the shooting started, I realized that I’d looked on sound design. No matter how I pose to hold the mike, the muscle pain penetrated  my shoulder quickly. Moreover, a natural feature of documentary, uncontrolled environment, made the shooting harder. Since documentary is non-fiction and based on originality, we tried to shoot the place as it was. Unfortunately, the noises of car, airplane, bird, wind and construction hindered recording the clear and loud voice of interviewers. Therefore, we closed all the windows and turned off the fans in the classroom to block off the noise. Standing to hold the boom mike for more than four hours in the classroom of hot temperature, I was sweating from head to toe and get like burning. After the shooting, I suffered from muscle pains and heat exhaustion. Also, the recorder didn’t last more than one hour, so I was worried about it running out of battery. Hence, I couldn’t relax any moment during the shooting.

Despite the harsh condition of shooting, I enjoyed the filming because there were ‘sitaras’ who are students in Abyudaya. We interviewed sitaras of Vandana and Manisha who waited half a day for their turns but never complained. They were rather smiling and even willing to help us during the shooting. Although they don’t live in affluence, they study hard and they’ve been selected as the mentees of Abyudaya. The stories of their interviewers were mostly heartbreaking, and I’ve realized how much I’d been privileged. After spending a day with these sitaras, I felt responsible for producing this documentary for sitaras who live in hope and dream.

 

 

Survival Week

Dancing with Delhi Belly

On Thursday night, I started to have a fever and fell asleep. When I woke up on the next day, my stomach felt uncomfortable and I kept going to bathroom. I realized that Delhi Belly has started. Delhi Belly is a common illness affecting traveller’s tummy, and it was more miserable than what I had expected. However, I was more worried about Lungi Dance than Delhi Belly because it was the day of shooting. Along with Delhi Belly, I was even hard to walk but I didn’t want to give up dancing. It was my first time learning choreography of Indian music, and I think there would be no more chance to shoot with awesome crew in Whistling Woods International (WWI). Therefore, I left the hotel to WWI at 3 p.m., and we all had a rehearsal for the shooting. Until the rehearsal, I did not feel anything special about the shooting since I’ve done a lot of shootings as a TRF major student. However, when everyone started to wear costumes and have make ups, I realized that this shooting was very serious, and it was my first time not shooting but being shot. The shooting started at 8 p.m., and Delhi Belly kept bothering me. Surprisingly, it stopped temporarily as the shooting went on, so I could continue to be on the shooting. I would like to describe the shooting was mad. Right after the first four hours of shooting, everyone fixed his or her make up, and we all changed into different costumes. We then went to the shooting for another four hours. Regardless of the long hour of shooting, most of people seemed to be not tired but energetic. We finally ended the shooting with freak movement that made everyone to dance like crazy. It was 4 a.m. when we went back to hotel. I was extremely exhausted so I went to bed right away. However, during the shooting, I didn’t feel tired and even forgot my Delhi Belly because I enjoyed every moment of the shooting. I’m glad that we successfully finished the shooting and looking forward to see our first music video being edited.

Day off

Since I was okay during the shooting, I thought my Delhi Belly had stopped. However, when I woke up in the morning, I again continued going to bathroom and I suffered from Delhi Belly for the entire day. Thus, I had to stay in the hotel and rest while everyone was having fun in downtown. It is always the best to prevent an illness in advance during the trip. Otherwise, you have to waste the time on the bed until you become recovered.

#Simple Tips for Delhi Belly

1. Avoid raw food (except fruits) and tap water

2. A fever means the beginning of Delhi Belly

3. Take pills

4. Drink a lot of water

6. Banana is a good option

7. Prevent it in advance

Exotic India 

My Delhi Belly finally stopped on Sunday morning, so I was able to join the trip to Juhu Beach and Bandra. Juhu Beach is surrounded by the Arabian Sea, and many Bollywood stars live near the beach. While travelling, I love visiting beaches because each beach in different countries has a unique atmosphere. Ranging from boys playing cricket to the stores selling snakcs, Juhu Beach is vibrant. We stopped at the store selling sweets and ordered a variety of Indian slush, smoothie, and ice cream. I love sweets so I wanted to taste all of them, but my tummy wasn’t ready to have something cold. Hence, I had to skip the sweets looking tasty and headed to Bandra for lunch and shopping.

On the way to Bandra, the bus stopped in front of an apartment, and everyone got off. The apartment seemed to be a place for neither lunch nor shopping. However, Mark led us to the first floor of the apartment, and there was a hidden place named Fab India. Unlike Lokhandwala Market where we went first for shopping, Fab India had more trendy clothes and also sold organic products of cosmetics and food. I strongly recommend Fab India to any travelers interested in fabulous items representing India.

After binge shopping, we went to the restaurant named Candies. It is a casual dining place selling both American and Indian dishes. Along with exotic dishes, the interior in Candies is eye-catching: the restaurant is built in spiral shape, and its wall was decorated by pieces of glasses in different colors. I ordered lasagna, chips, and chocolate cake that I could taste home. As I picked up my food from the counter, I went upstairs to find the seat. However, the stairs seemed to be endless, and I went all the way up for sitting. The food was nice, and the view of Bandra from the top of the restaurant was amazing.

Many Indians believe in Hinduism, but there is a small portion of Christians living in Bandra. Therefore, villages in Bandra were exotic and charming. The environment of Bandra reflects the diverse society in India, and I’m looking forward to visit more places like Bandra.

 

Bollywood 101

The faculties from Whistling Woods International (WWI) have given us the interesting lectures for the first four days of the class. I have watched Indian films since elementary school and I believed I know many things about Bollywood. However, after the lectures, I have realized that I have misunderstood a lot of information about Bollywood and I have learned many new facts about Indian films. The most memorable lecture was the difference between Hollywood and Bollywood.

There are many differences between Hollywood and Bollywood because their origin of storytelling is not the same. The story of Hollywood films originated from Greek’s Aristotle whereas that of Bollywood films developed from Indian narrations called Ramayana and Mahabharat. Ramayana is an epic about God and Mahabharat is about cousins fighting over land. They are the root of Indian films and still dominate the storyline of Bollywood movies.

I used to wonder why an Indian film has a variety of stories during the film while an American film has a specific storyline. During the lecture, I have known the fact that Bollywood films are based on multi genres. This is because Bollywood industry believes successful films include strong storyline that evokes all emotions. As a consequence, Indian films have various stories in one film that arouses different types of emotions.

Furthermore, according to Som, a faculty from WWI, realistic narrative is frequent in Hollywood films because the films strive to conceal the constructed nature of their work. On the other hand, Indian films do not attempt to conceal the fact that what is shown on the screen is a creation, illusion and fiction. For that reason, Bollywood considers the movie as a continuum of time and space.

In contrast to these differences, Bollywood and Hollywood has a similarity that audiences support their film industries. Som told us that government supports the film industry in other countries like Europe. This is reason why Bollywood and Hollywood are considered as the two biggest film industries in the world. Despite the popularity of Indian film in the world, producers from Bollywood are concerned about the low penetration of their films. It means that Bollywood films have high value while they are low in volume. This is because of the low price of film ticket that is about twenty cents.

Lastly, when Som said that sexual and violent content is restricted in Bollywood, I thought it was because India is politically conservative. However, it was not necessarily true. The absence of vulgar content is because of a family-centered culture in India. Watching movie is a family event in India, so Bollywood producers tend to exclude vulgar scenes that families may feel uncomfortable when they are watching movies all together. The family-centered culture also explains why most Indian films includes a scene of families celebrating the party no matter what genre of movie it is.

48 hours like 48 days

Not even four hours have passed

I arrived later than others because I flew from Korea. When I checked in hotel, it was around 6 a.m. As soon as I unpacked, I slept for an hour and went for a breakfast. I was not feeling to have something, but a cup of mango milkshake awakened my appetite. Indeed, mango is now a season in India, so it is available to enjoy a variety of fresh mango dishes now. After the breakfast, we headed to Whistling Woods International (WWI) where was holding an event of Indian cinema. We first watched a documentary about a history of Bollywood. Before watching it, I was merely concerned about song and dance of Indian films. However, I’ve realized that Indian films convey social and political messages behind their music and choreography. I’m looking forward to study Bollywood in depth during the rest of the course.

First night at Mumbai

At night, we went to the restaurant named Villa 69 where plays great music and serves exotic dishes. We went there by a traditional Indian vehicle called Rics. Traffic in Mumbai is very complicated, so Rics was like a roller coaster riding. During the ride, I was about to have a car sick, but it was a great fun. The restaurant played music similar to the one we heard in the documentary in WWI, and everyone couldn’t stay seated and danced on the floor with rhythmical music. While we were enjoying the food, we met a Mark’s friend Shanoo Sharma. She is one of powerful casting directors in Bollywood, and she has shared her experiences and thoughts about Bollywood. She also told us that it is important to speak up in India in order for benefits. For instance, I was having a noodle that I felt a bit spicy, and she spoke up the server to recook my dish. Therefore, I could enjoy the noodle that was not spicy at all but more delicious. It is good to meet person like Shanoo Sharma who is willing to help us to have the best experiences during the trip. We again took Rics back to hotel, and I felt a lot more comfortable with the second time riding it.

24 hours have passed

Sunday was all about shopping. We went to an Indian fashion district named Lokhandwala Market where sells lots of Indian traditional costumes. Due to endless number of shops, I was in dilemma to decide where and what to buy clothes. After two hours of visiting the shops, I eventually bought a Sari. It may seem uncomfortable to wear in hot weather because of its multiple layering. However, it is made of light cotton so it is very cool to wear despite of the weather. When I go back home, I’ll definitely wear it since it is both comfortable and stylish. If I had more money, I would have bought all the clothes on the street. After shopping, I was glad to have lunch since I had been starving. We had a lunch at the restaurant called High Point where has a variety of delicious dishes. We had Palak Paneer, a creamy baby spinach sauce with cottage cheese. It was so tasty that I couldn’t stop dipping and eating Nnaan with Palak Paneer. Also, we had a Samosa that I would describe it as a fried Indian dim sum stuffed with stir-fried vegetables. It was tastier with a sweet sauce, and the crispy texture of Samosa made me kept having it. After being full, we went to see Mark’s another friend Harish Amin. I was so excited to meet him when I heard that he is a famous line producer of contemporary Indian films. It was an honor to see him, and he gave a short but impressive speech to us. It is great to meet Mark’s friends who tell us the interesting stories about India as well as Bollywood.

What’s next?

Within 48 hours, we have had new dishes, met new people, and got new clothes. The variety of experiences in short time made me to forget about tiredness and realize that I’m now in India. I’m looking forward for unpredictable events that will be happening rest of three weeks.

Thanks God I’m on the trip!

Yay! I can finally be on this trip. I was about to miss the trip because I had to renew my passport and I got my Indian visa a day before the departure. I’m now on the plane so I feel relieved and thrilled to enjoy the trip.

My name is Kyung Seo Han, but everyone calls me Karoline. I’m senior and I major in Television, Radio & Films and Economics. I’m interested in both production and management, so Bollywood Practicum is a great chance to know the industry film other than Hollywood and have hands-on experiences in production. Bollywood is appealing to me because of its strong visual images. Even though I don’t know any Indian language and the movie doesn’t have subtitle, it is fun to watch Bollywood films since they have colorful costumes and rhythmical songs and dance. Thus, through Bollywood Practicum, I’m looking forward to study Bollywood in depth.

Both my concerns and expectations about this trip are food. While I was packing, my mom told me to bring some snacks or canned food just in case I have a problem with food. However, I’m not bringing any of them since the trip is only three-week long and I think it is short period to taste all the Indian dishes. I’m saying good-bye to my favorite burger and fries for a while and excited to have typical and traditional Indian food. In contrast to being a foodie and having a big appetite, I’ve been suffering from recurring indigestion since my freshman year and I’m little bit aware of Delhi belly during the trip. However, I’ve packed numerous medicines and I’m ready to experience any kind of Indian dishes.