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Since 1st March, 1999
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By Bollyrood
Westside view

Tartan is not a pattern usually associated with Bollywood. More likely the Scottish national fabric conjures up images of kilts, whisky and mountain meadows decked out in thistles. But now the design looks set to become a more regular feature among the pantheon of Bollywood colour.

That’s because six-decade superstar Dev Anand has dropped into Scotland to promote the country as a top location for Bolly flicks. The 84-year old swung by on his way to Cannes (where he was due to attend a special showing of his 1965 classic Guide). His primary mission in Scotland was to find a superstar for his upcoming romance When Heartbeats are the Same. But the Scottish Highlands and Islands Film Commission sniffed out an opportunity, and as Dev arrived a celebration was held in honour of his lifelong contribution to film. At the heart of the proceedings was a tenth anniversary screening of the Anand-starrer Main Solah Baras Ki — the first major Hindi film to be shot in the highlands.

Before heading to Scotland, Dev talked of his feelings for the mountainous northerly land — which he described as “most exotic and, in a sense, God’s own country”. Addressing Scots, he said: “My present trip to Scotland is born out of an enduring drive to once again meet with, greet, and thank you all for the wonderful love, affection, hospitality, and co-operation you showered upon me 10 years ago while I was shooting for Main Solah Baras Ki.

“I would certainly want to revive that relationship and be among you once again… with Scottish actors, technicians, musicians, and composers participating. In this I’m certain we will further cement Indo-Scottish relations.” It seems Dev’s views are as unchanging as the Scotland’s rugged peaks. Of his original trip to the country, he said: “There was magic in the scenery everywhere, in Scotland’s countryside, its towns, its lakes, its valleys and dales.”

When it comes to Indo-Scottish collaboration, the Bollywood routine in English language film Nina’s Heavenly Delights — which showed a tartan clad troupe sweating out a Bollywood routine in front of one of Scotland’s most majestic waterways, Loch Lomond — was beyond bizarre. Only a matter of time, perhaps, before Scotland’s Parliament Holyrood is renamed Bollyrood.

The London Palestine Film Festival has provided further evidence of Bolly action in unexpected places this week. A French documentary, Palestines, featured a Bollywood-loving traffic cop, Raed, who uses his well practised choreography to direct traffic. Could this work as an urban policy in Indian cities? Perhaps not. But certainly as an artistic flourish it is deemed compelling: one of the film’s London reviewers declared: “As Raed spins and twists in the street, he evokes Palestine’s long, often awkward love affair with cinema.”

A group of business-savvy British girls have also drawn inspiration from Bollywood this week. Enjoying their five minutes of fame as contestants on the UK entrepreneur-idol show, The Apprentice, the girls were tasked with taking over and themeing a London pub-restaurant. Viewers watched as the girls agonised over whether the allotted pub should gain an English or Bollywood makeover — and eventually went with the latter. Although the pub was a moderate success, it remains unknown whether the food served was anything approaching edible. Perhaps the girls should ditch London and try Edinburgh: there they could consider booking a star appearance from Dev Anand for a debut serving of Haggis a la Bollywood.

Jack Lamport

(A writer and part-time actor based in London)

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