Manil Suri, author of Death of Vishnu, The Age of Shiva, and City of Devi and A.X. Ahmad, author of The Caretaker (IC, September 2013) and the recently-released The Last Taxi Ride—books one and two of the Ranjit Singh Trilogy, first met at one of Suri’s evening readings. They chatted politely despite being famished. When both confessed their hunger, they ended up becoming friends over dinner. This conversation of literary minds took place at Suri’s home, where they sat at his dining table and transported themselves to India via their conversation about Bollywood’s influence on society, their lives, and their writing.
AX: When did Hindi movies become “Bollywood?” We used to call them “Hindi movies” in childhood.
MS: I don’t know, I think for me there was a gap. I left India in 1979, and they were called “Hindi movies.” Then I didn’t see Hindi movies while I was here in the States. By the time I went back to India and started seeing them again, they had become “Bollywood.” Things changed somewhere along the way. I think even in the 70s once in a while you would see the term “Bollywood” used in film magazines like Stardust. I confess I used to read it.
AX: My grandmother used to get Stardust! It was the most glamorous magazine around. So was your first interest in the movies through Stardust, or did you get interested in the movies and then read Stardust?
MS: I was interested in the movies for a long time, and that led me to Stardust and all the other magazines—Filmfare, Star & Style, Film World. We used to borrow them from the local circulating library, which would rent out each magazine for 25 paise.
AX: So, what are your earliest memories of Bollywood and your favorite movies?
— India Currents | August 2014