Tuesday June 18, 2019
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How well known is Bollywood in the land of Hollywood?

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Photo: http://blogtobollywood.com

By Sugandha Rawal

Be it using phrases in conversations, having songs for almost any situation or using the book of Hindi cinema to find solutions to real life problems — as a Bollywood junkie I decided to go on a quest to find trail of Indian showbiz in this land of Hollywood.

My findings? Some blank stares, questions like “Is it big like Hollywood?” and a Raj Kapoor fan humming a song from one of his classic movies.

At a time when American showbiz has opened its doors to Indian actors like never before — whether it is Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Anupam Kher or divas like Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone, who have landed plum projects like “Baywatch” and “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage”, respectively — the only query that popped into my mind as I set my foot here was to know how well foreign audience know Bollywood.

With a nip in the air, the walk towards Universal CityWalk from my hotel here seemed to be a scene direct out of a romantic Hindi movie with lush surroundings, flowers blooming around each corner and music playing in the background.

Snapping out of my filmy mode, I met a young 20-something Sheri Tittrich. She was clueless about Hindi cinema, King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan or even Salman Khan.

“I don’t know but would be interested to know more about it,” she said, asking this IANS correspondent “Is it big like Hollywood?”

Mary from Alabama also asked, “Do they have stars like here?”

My next target was a group of four women, followed by another one, who requested anonymity. None of them was acquainted with Hindi cinema. Another blow to my Bollywood obsession.

But there was hope in Kesia Williams, who said: “I have never heard about it and the reason I think is the language barrier. It is not like I don’t want to see it. When I think of Hindi films, beautiful outfits, traditional ladies, Indian dresses, dancing shows come in my mind. I have seen some TV shows here talk about it”.

To add to it, Alison Silcoff from Vancouver, Canada, jumped with the mention of Bollywood, and said: “Ya, I know about Hollywood of India.”

Partially satisfied with the findings, I decided to return to my hotel. But as Shah Rukh famously said in “Om Shanti Om” — ‘Picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost’.

My cab driver from Ukraine not only turned out to be a Bollywood buff but a fan of late Indian cinematic icon Raj Kapoor. He dropped me at the hotel porch humming a song from one of the icon’s films, reminding me of the reach of Hindi cinema in a foreign land.

And he gave me a $2 discount. A perfect end to my search for Bolly in Holly. (IANS)

 

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US Senate Upholds Arms Sales to Bahrain, Qatar

The Senate voted 43-56 against moving the Bahrain resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee

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FILE - Two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters participate in a media demonstration. VOA

The U.S. Senate on Thursday turned back resolutions aimed at disapproving multi-billion-dollar arms sales to Bahrain and Qatar, amid continued intensive congressional scrutiny of weapons sales to U.S. allies in the Middle East.

The Senate voted 43-56 against moving the Bahrain resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee and bringing it to the floor for consideration by the full chamber. It also voted 42-57 against discharging the resolution pertaining to Qatar.

Sponsored by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the resolutions seek to block the Trump administration’s decisions, announced in May, to sell U.S. missile systems to Bahrain and attack helicopters to Qatar, each valued in the $3 billion range.

“The Middle East is a hot cauldron and continually threatening to boil over,” Paul said ahead of the votes. “I think it’s a mistake to funnel arms into these century-old conflicts.”

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The U.S. Senate on Thursday turned back resolutions aimed at disapproving multi-billion-dollar arms sales. Pixabay

Paul noted that weapons sent to the Middle East can wind up in the hands of America’s adversaries.

“In Iran to this day, they still have some U.S. weapons that are left over from the weapons the U.S. supplied the shah [U.S.-backed former Iranian leader overthrown in 1979]. In Iraq, some of the weapons we gave them to fight Iran were still there when we returned to fight Saddam Hussein. In Afghanistan, some of the weapons we gave to the Mujahideen to fight the Russians [in the 1980s] were still there when we returned to fight the Taliban [after the 9-11 attacks of 2001],” Paul said.

Last year, the Senate also defeated an effort by the Kentucky Republican to block the sale of rocket systems to Bahrain.

Bipartisan backing for such sales endured on Thursday, as even some senators who voted in favor of the discharge petitions as a procedural matter told VOA they do not support the underlying resolutions of disapproval.

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“I support the [arms] sales,” said the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez of New Jersey. “On the process, I’m voting to preserve the [Senate’s] institutional rights…for at least a debate to be had over the sales, but I support the underlying sales.”

Other lawmakers spoke out against the discharge petitions as well as the resolutions.

“If they [Gulf states] don’t buy arms from us, they’re going to buy them from China or Russia,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told VOA. “Look, these countries are not democracies, we recognize that. But our interests are aligned, particularly in containing and combating Iran.”

 Bahrain has taken part in the Saudi-led coalition waging an air campaign over Yemen that has resulted in a staggering death toll in the country’s bloody civil war.
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FILE – Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez speaks with the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 5, 2019. VOA

Asked if the bloodshed in Yemen gave him pause about U.S. arms sales to the region, Cornyn said, “It does. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot we can do about it. It’s a civil war that the Iranians are trying to take advantage of, arming the Houthis to attack Saudi Arabia. I don’t think that should paralyze us, even though it’s a serious concern.”

The Senate could vote as early as next week on separate resolutions disapproving $8.1 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

In the House of Representatives, four Democrats filed resolutions Wednesday that, if passed, would block the licenses required for the sales to move ahead.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan congressional resolution ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition targeting Yemen.

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Aside from the Yemeni conflict, lawmakers from both parties have repeatedly protested Saudi Arabia’s role in the October 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. (VOA)