Biking to Bollywood

Pakistan, September 17, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Courtesy of DJ Anjali &amp; The Kid Sister  </span>
    For the past few Thursdays, bicyclists and Bollywood fans have gathered in a Portland parking lot to watch an Indian classic and support Mercy Corps' flood relief efforts in Pakistan. Photo: Courtesy of DJ Anjali & The Kid Sister

Portland is a great city for many reasons, but this town’s penchant for combining bikes with nearly everything can result in some great culture. When I heard my friends were going to Bollywood Bike In! at the Q Center in North Portland I was excited about riding my bike, especially since there was a great sunset along the waterfront — and part of the proceeds from the movie would go to Mercy Corps’ Pakistan flood relief efforts.

As I loaded popcorn, a jacket and lights into my bike bag l realized that I had never actually seen a Bollywood movie. Qurbani, shot in 1980 and starring the inimitable Feroz Khan, was to be my inaugural Bollywood feature. This two-and-a-half hour epic about jewel thieves, love and friendship was tempered with a heavy dose of male bonding and face-touching. And the music was just awesome. So great in fact there was a group of die-hard fans in the back that knew the words to each song and were actually singing along along with every performance.

And that pretty much set the tone for the night. By the end I found myself wondering why I couldn't enjoy every movie movie like this. The crowd of about 50 cheered and hooted and laughed, sometimes with the characters and sometimes at them. I have honestly never seen so much winking in a movie.

This was the third film in the Bollywood Bike In series, organized by Portland’s popular bhangra-and-Bollywood DJ Anjali and The Kid Sister. All told, the movie nights have raised almost $200 for our flood-relief efforts in Pakistan. How’s that for Asian subcontinent solidarity?

I feel like I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg with Bollywood. And I’m definitely riding back for more next week. Find out more at