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Taking a Shot at Bollywood

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April 2004
Taking a Shot at Bollywood

Everyone has dreams, and mine was to become a Bollywood star. I know it sounds crazy, but please don't laugh. I'll be the first to admit that it was a long shot, that I had a better chance of becoming a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.

But I've listened to enough motivational tapes to realize the importance of "going for it." What did I have to lose? So after much deliberation, after consulting my friends ("You're nuts!"), my mother ("You're crazy!") and my wife ("You're delusional!"), I decided to audition for a Bollywood agent, giving him a quick look at my acting, dancing and singing skills. Following my performance, he asked me to have a seat, scratched his chin and looked directly into my eyes.

Agent: "Thank you for auditioning, Mr. Durai. Since you're so determined to work in Bollywood, I might be able to find you a job. The directors are always looking for someone to fetch them coffee."

Me: "But I want to be an actor."

Agent: "I'm sorry, Mr. Durai. We have four major criteria for Bollywood actors and I'm afraid you fail all of them."

Me: "I realize I don't speak Hindi, but I'm willing to learn."

Agent: "Speaking Hindi is not a requirement anymore. The producers are very good at dubbing. They can even make George Bush speak Hindi."

Me: "Is it my singing then? I realize I don't sing very well."

Agent: "Well, your singing isn't bad, Mr. Durai ? it's terrible. I've heard better singing from a donkey. But singing isn't an issue. The producers can easily dub the voice of a professional singer, so moviegoers don't have to stuff popcorn into their ears."

Me: "Is it my looks then? Am I not handsome enough?"

Agent: "Well, let's just say you're no Salman Khan. Come to think of it, you're no Salman Rushdie either. What's more, Mr. Durai, you're not exactly fair-skinned. You'd have to be a villain."

Me: "But I'm willing to do anything: wear a mask, cover my face with talcum powder, or see Michael Jackson's plastic surgeon."

Agent: "Really? While you're at it, you might as well see Michael Jackson's dance instructor. You dance like a cow. I hope you're not offended by that. I really don't mean to insult cows. Dancing is very important in Bollywood, Mr. Durai, more important than acting. But of even greater importance is your name. Yours, unfortunately, does not end with ?han.'"

Me: "What do you mean?"

Agent: "All the top Bollywood actors, in case you didn't notice, have surnames ending with ?han.' For example: Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, and Hrithik Roshan. This formula has even worked for another top Asian star: Jackie Chan."

Me: "What's the significance of ?han.'?"

Agent: "We're not sure. ?Han' means ?yes,' but it might also be a short form of ?handsome.' It makes these actors more appealing on screen."

Me: "Well, in that case, I'm willing to change my name to Melvin Roshan. In fact, I'm even willing to change to Mohan Roshan. That way, you'd get twice the ?han.'"

Agent: "Your determination is inspiring, Mr. Durai. But if you're not born with such a name, then I am sorry to say, the gods have not smiled on you. Are you sure you don't want to fetch coffee?"


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