Coming into the Customs/immigration area in LA, I am always looked upon really suspiciously. I used to look like a Columbian drug smuggler when they were in vogue. Now I look like an Arab terrorist. They are the latest in fashion. Yesterday something strange happened..
I look my innocent charming best. I smile. I get a haircut and trim my beard. Nothing helps. I can see everyone zooming into me. It’s just my personality I guess. I just feel suspicious.
“So why are you here ?” he was big, white,threatening and had a gun by his side.
” I’m here because I am film maker, am here to meet with my actors”. I tried to sound really confident.
“How long ‘r you staying”, he boomed”
“A day” I replied now looking as timid and honest as I could.
“A day ? and you have all that luggage for one day ?” He was really suspicious.
“I umm… am travelling .. to London from here ..”. That’s it. Bag opening time.
“what were you doing in India” he asked as he was running his hand over my bags.
“I live there” I replied, a bit of my pride creeping back. Surely he had heard of the IT boom and the growth rate of 7.5% of the Indian economy. Aspiring to 8.3 % next year. Surely he is an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal.
He eyed me suspiciously agaim. “Oh my God” I thought ” He thinks I am outsourcing American jobs, his best friend probably lost a job to an unknown Indian outsourceror.”
“So what kind of films do u make ?” he asked.
Now I knew I was fine. I could get through this time without the indignity of having people pour over my badly packed bags and unwashed shirts and underpants. After all my film was nominated for the Academy Awards and this is LA.
“I made this film called “Elizabeth” – you remember ? The one with Cate Blanchette and was nominated for 8 Oscars ( lie ! It was 7) ?? You know the one ?”. He was not looking impressed at all. ” And then I made this one with Heath Ledger – do you know..?.
“Never go to the Movies”, He cut me in.
No more weapons in my arsenal. I am giving up to a physical examination of my body parts too, I am thinking. I have been on a plane for 30 hours. I will go to jail for smelling bad.
” But watch them Bollywood DVD’s at home. Love them, wife and kids love them too”. He said.
As I looked at him, a bit speachless, there was other Indian guy behind me. He suddenly piped in. “This guy is one of the most famous of Bollywood’s Director’!”.
Big Smile ! A huge hand on my shoulder. No gun in it, thank God.
“Why didn’t you just say earlier ?” he said.
So what’s this big white all American guy, an undercover agent for Homeland Security, with a gun by his side, who never goes to the Movies doing watching Bollywood films ? I tried to picture him and his family ordering a pizza dinner and settling down to watch Shahrukkh Khan singing/dancing to Kajol. Doen’t quite fit does it ?
OK. I have decided that as soon as Golden Age is over, I am going to direct a Bollywood Movie. Done.