US Immigration & Bollywood !

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.

69 thoughts on “US Immigration & Bollywood !

  1. I love the way you narrated this. As you said, doesn’t quite fit in – watching Shahrukh and Kajol dancing – but I think it’s happening. My friends do tell me that they know of many such ppl who enjoy watching Bollywood movies. Good na πŸ™‚

  2. Dear Shekhar,
    Wish you a very happy Birthday and many Happy returns of the day!
    Recount your life by Smiles
    Not Tears
    Count your age
    By Friends
    Not Years!
    Love and Cheers!
    PS: Haven’t seen you online lately. Busy?
    Suchitra’s Birthday must be round the corner as well, don’t know the date… here’s wishing her a Happy Birthday as well.

  3. This brought about quite some humour..!
    I was under the misconception that you only direct and think of all things pensive!
    You dont look like an Arab terrorist at all,more like an Afghani ! πŸ™‚
    But on a serious note it was pleasant to hear that US immigration officers watch Bollywood movies too..U shud consider directing one here..!

  4. Hi Shekhar..
    as bewildered as you! Can’t imagine the white watching srk dance around trees!
    Do remember watching you on tv some time back about this film you were working on..can’t remember the name but i think it had something to do with water (famine/flood?) is that shelved..?
    Gotta add..Masoom is my childhood favourite film..and i think it will remain a part of my childhood memories Thank you for making such a great film!

  5. This is amusing. Imagine landing up in in unknown country post-911 as a student with a laminated I-20. The guy at the Immigration laughs, and goes ‘Hey Harry, come here, you’ve got to see this… this certainly is a first’ But they were darn sweet about it, laughed the whole time through made a photocopy of my I-20, handed me back my laminated I-20 and said ‘lady, you can save that to show to your grandchildren.’ They even got all my luggage and wheeled it till the exit for making their day πŸ™‚
    About Bollywood films, yes almost everyone seems to be ‘into’it now.. so its at times its blasphemous for them that me being an Indian hadnt seen some of the Bollywood flicks!

  6. Shekhar I read yr all coloumns but nothing about Shabana Aazmi. As I remembered you both were very close to each other. Two intelligent persons. I liked your jodi very much. Sorry to say that could not work. But I am very much interested to know about Shabana Aazmi from your side.

  7. Yes, believe it or not, the white are definitely being introduced to Bollywood and loving it! (esp. SRK and Kajol dancing around trees) LOL
    Mr. Kapoor, a good idea for a Bollywood film here in the US is one based on the novel The Ashram by Sattar Memon. The story is mind-blowing! It has even been written about on a Bollywood site.
    Here’s my review on it also

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  9. Dear Sir,
    We are a group of people from an Investment Firm based in New Delhi with a Hinglish Movie Script in mind. This is a low budget comedy (completely shot in Mumbai), mostly in English and chiefly caters to the international market. It’s along the lines of movies released previously such as The Guru, Bombay Boys, Bollywood/Hollywood, Monsoon Wedding, Bend It Like Beckham etc and we’re in current discussions with various production houses. We desire to get it vet by professionals such as you because we deem you have a feel for this and are the most appropriate choice to examine it given your background and expertise. We need for you to inspect it thoroughly, give us your views and suggestions, its pros versus cons etc. I’d like some information if possible on who I should touch base with and what the charges (per page/words) will be. Please fell free to ask for any more information. Thank you for your time and kindly reply at your earliest.
    Mandira Puri
    Group Head – Business Development & Research
    VLS Finance Ltd.

  10. So, you told the security guy that ‘Elizabeth’ was nominated for 8 oscars.
    hmmm. I can feel the pain!
    It is like nominating a SAMOSA, where
    the potato company gets nominated for organic/ best taste in vegetables
    the oil company gets for healthiest, cholesterol free best oil
    the batter gets for best white flour
    the spice company for best ‘anardana’
    the shopkeeper for low prices
    interior designer for best showcase, lighting arrangement
    waiter for prompt friendly services
    and forget the damn low-caste halwai? for putting everything together!!!!

  11. i went to hollywood to become a film maker in a film school in la
    end up getting kick out on false charges
    and in la county
    i have great story to tell if want listen i post it good script based on my HOLLYWOOD dreams

    its hilarious every colored men 90% )( are in jail in la and white ppl are the jail wardens and police (90%)
    contact me

  13. about your story ..Immigration & Bollywood!
    everytime I arrive in england,
    they read my disembarkment form and mumble..poet!?
    and there is no one standing behind me in the queue

  14. shekhar,
    this is a hilarious story! what a smile you have put on my face this morning πŸ™‚
    i can recall many such encounters with homeland security at Houston Airport….
    although my smug, over confidence, dry humour never quite worked…but then again i was never a Bollywood director!
    if this doesn’t inspire you to do a ‘Bollywood’ movie, i don’t know what will!

  15. Hi Shekhar,
    Jst came to knw about your site thru an article in Times of India & i must congratulate you. This is amazing…..Jst lik the films ou make… Cant wait to see Paani…Keep going buddy..

  16. I had an almost similar experience in Schipol Airport, Amsterdam. Me and my friend were shopping in one of the stores when one of the ladies in the store went into a discussion about Bollywood and all and we were shocked when she showed her wallet which had a snap of Aishwarya and Sharukh. Looks like as if we Indians are really going places these days.

  17. Dude at the rate you make movies people in India will start forgetting that you are a Director. Now that the technology available in India with so many multiplex’s in India and audience willing to accept new concepts I think you should rethink about making TIME MACHINE. If you would have made it when you were suppose to then you would have been much ahead of your times.

  18. Its time you did.I mean, make a good movie. Was just reading about the serial blasts in Mumbai and felt that a bit of humour can help release the built-up tension from not being able to reach friends and relatives whose lives are tied to the western lines.Was wondering, what is the purpose of having a cell phone when you cannot use it during crisis? Did all our brilliant engineers spend sleepless nights over a piece a chip that can only be used to exhange smileys? Or inane sms’s? Now, after having tried the 20th time, I wonder,. if we really have managed to come closer?

  19. After having been in the US for some time, It is not suprising that people here prefer bollywood to hollywood and i guess the credit goes to good film makers like you!!!

  20. India is known more than it used to be. Slowly the perception of India as the land of elephants and snakes is being replaced by other images.
    On my entry this year at SFO the customs official, a gentle African American, was asking me questions on what food stuff I had got along. After some pointed questions like do you have Jeera ? He asked me about mangoes in India and if it was the season now.
    The final statement was the best. He said ” I know two people from your country your president and Ash”

  21. hi mr.shekhar,
    i feel real good that US ppl know abt hindi movies but what bothers me is that sumtimes there aren’t needed sequences and they just make the movie looong. what do u think abt it. if they r needed i watch happily but sumtimes there r not needed sequences. ur views pls.

  22. Hi Mr.Shekar
    Recently one of my friend was telling me that she saw Suchitra Krishnamoorthy in New Jersey.
    Then immediately I thought of you once again.
    I watched Bandit queen, Mr.India. I am awaiting for Buddha as I am also a spiritual person and read Deepak Chopra’s literature.
    Even our x-defense minister George Fernendas and Kamal Hassan had the same experience as you at the American Airports

  23. Dear Shekharji,
    I believe and also think we shall have 1 to 1 interaction on our dreams and visions for life and many other issues as they are very much in line and worth giving a thout and they will give out surely many immortal things, as we both can’t be that physically may be the other way its quite possible. By the way your poem If I were Immortal was quite nice.

  24. This is just a rant about the audiobook version of “The Story of my Experiments with Truth” that you narrated.
    I was very shocked when the whole CD finished and I did not hear a specific episode from the book. I searched the accompanying book but did not find it. Also, it looked very thin.
    Then I read the fine print – it was an abridged version. Now if the fine print was visible when buying the book in it’s shrink-wrapped packing, it would have been fairly reasonable.
    But it was inside somewhere and I was pretty mad.
    I borrowed the complete version from the local library and read it.
    Your narration was pretty good though.
    Also, after reading the book, when I now hear people talk about Gandhiji’s views are hear two people debate about Gandhiji’s “vichardhara” – its amazing to realize that they are mostly bullshitting – most people haven’t read anything about Gandhiji.

  25. heyy shekar…i met u in marriot once n in blore sumtime the guy who made a film called…blackk sugar…we spoke bout it..but dnt thnk u rem..newayss was talkin to jugal bout his experiences workin wd u..he got me all cracked..up..tellin me bout he drove u crazyy but u were always sucha sweetheart..never losin ur cool n all…newayss…gd luck wd life…

  26. shekar saab !!all the best to you when you make your bollywood movie .Its very strange that though today’s India has just about embraced everything western /american , we still are very reluctant to let go of the way we make our movies .There is definitely something about our movies ,which is unique to us .
    They are crazy , illogical , but have amazing recall.though I luv “The Hustler” , “Dity Harry” etc , but “Mr India” ,”Amar Akbar Antony ”
    have their own class!
    over and out,

  27. Thats so funny…I live here in NY, and truth be told a ton of my friends are really willing to sit and watch aHindi Movie..and a few are completely Hooked!!!
    Hats of to you and all those that make this possible in a world that is so much more divided and segragated than accepting!

  28. haha..that is quite suprising..but i guess its the latest a bollywood movie..i know its becoming popular among non-indians in new york..and less popular with the indians..unless u can convince n beg ur freind that “no no its reallly kool they dnt dance the whole time anymore”..
    im a bollywood freak..and id love to see it continue him watching bollywood movies ..makes me happy ;p

  29. I just came across this BLOG by accident, so here are my two cents (whatever they are worth) “I guess the moral is that never forget who you are and the roots which made you charismatic.”

  30. Hi again. This is a story I did find amusing.
    It reminds me of the time i used to have dred-locks, and everyone telling me I looked like Whoopi Goldberg.

  31. Shekhar,
    Even I have come across westerners who like watching bollywood films and are a big fan of some our stars. Last year I met a couple from Austria here and we really became close friends. The girls name was Raluka and she was a big big fan of Shahrukh Khan. In fact she knew all his movies and she could even sing hindi songs. Imagine our surprise at this!!

  32. hello shekhar
    I wish to know your policy for receiving scripts for a possible consideration to make movies. I have written a couple of them.How do people like me send in their movie scripts.
    wtih regards

  33. ha ha ha hahahahahhaa……… LOL !!!
    this is what i felt after reading this……!!!

  34. Well Mr Kapur,
    Since you do not fear the future …and live in the moment …do visit my site :
    i write short stories too – and pls pls pls (Shah Rukh Style) – do read my movie reviews – pls do – if you have time and let me know what u think of them!
    eg. i really laughed when people were talking about the bold step in KANK ! idiots have not seen ‘MASOOM’ i think – where the man happily ‘humps and makes pregnant’ another woman and has no regrets whatsoever ! That is the essence of a true blue INDIAN MAN – shown very well by you…i think the bollywoodians are becoming pretty back dated and sharmile`- wake them up would you? !!

  35. Its high time you direct some Bollywood movie… We all are really missing your charm.

  36. What a hilareous story was that. If that has made you think of directing a hindi movie, then I pray may there be lot of such incidents which should make you direct at least one bollywood film a year.

  37. Mr. Kapur,
    It was interesting to read about your ordeal at LAX. I am an attorney in LA with my own law firm. If you need any help in the future, please call me.
    Amy Ghosh

  38. respected organise,
    i am mayank panchal i am 25 years old, i live in vadodara city,Guj.state india,i have much interested in holly wood film and its production ,i want learn and do word in film direction ahnd work under great directer like shekhar kapur

  39. Dear Shekhar,
    Since your existence depends upon my imagination, I imagine you directing a Globollywood movie next…Well Globollywood? I hope it too exists because I sure imagine it.

  40. Lol auuuuuuu na naaaaa hope u dont smell in Australiaaaa looool, I like the description you gave of yourself loool.
    Ah! yes! I remember Elizabeth still hear her echoes in my mind….and when prince charles some time back expressed his anguish regarding marrying Camella Parker, I could associate this instance of this movie with him….and could feel his anguish….Such a price to pay for such positions!
    Take Care and do forgive me at times I do behave rudely by pulling ur leg, I dislike treating you as one in position, I like to see you beyond that…and I smile when i see a gentle smile spread on your face thinking what characters you have to face in life, and then a twinkle in ur serene eyes…

  41. hi
    i want to talk to u abt some serious matter,abt some documentries i want to make wid u.plz reply me.

  42. Q How many customs officers does it take to change a light bulb?
    A None. Light bulbs are no longer permitted on international flights under section 1234, which states that all passengers are now to be kept in the dark in case one of them is a terrorist.
    Q: How many actors does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: One; the actor holds the light bulb, and the world revolves around the actor…
    Q: How many directors does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: 3…no, make it 4… on second thought 3… make it 5 just to be safe.
    Q: How many directors does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: Hmmmmmm…. Light bulb…. Allow me to ponder the changing of the bulb.
    Q: How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: “Sorry a new lamp isn’t in the budget”
    Q: How many lighting designers does is take to change a light bulb?
    A: None. Its a carefully orchestrated blackout.

  43. Dear Shekhar,
    Long time I tried to collect a contact number of yours. But I failed. I want to send a picture of mine with the resume, as I am interested to work in your films. I live in Canada and have no scope to meet any director to make my passion of being an actress and work under a Director like you. If you see this mail and want to give me a chance of mailing you my photo, please help me to fulfill my dream as a profession. I know you get thousands of mail from different people like me. But one has to try. Please help me. My email is

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