Love International

I had the pleasure of attending "Love International" this morning at the Berliner Talent Campus. Dorothee Wenner moderated the discussion with an Indian actor, Shah Rukh Khan (IMDB, WP), with over 60 films to his credit and two actresses, the German Maria Schrader (IMDB, WP) who won a Silver Bear in 1999 for Aimee & Jaguar, and the Nigerian Kate Henshaw-Nuttal (IMDB, WP), who has appeared in 150 films.

[That last paragraph took forever to write. First there was no picture of SRK on the Wikipedia, so I fished through my horrible photos of the morning for something decent. Then there was no article on Kate Henshaw-Nuttal in the Wikipedia, so I had to do something about that. German will have to wait.]

There were scores of mostly female fans outside the theater, waiting to get a glimpse of Khan. I had to go through 4 checkpoints to get in, and was surprised to see that there were so few seats filled down on the main floor. The first and second balcony, however, were filled to bursting with some very excited young girls and women.

The theater did fill, but there were seats free, one next to me. I leaned over to speak to the woman on the other side, she turned out to be a high-level film executive who admitted that she loved Bollywood and had obtained a ticket for a (male) friend who did not show.

On my left was a Nigerian filmmaker who entertained me with tales of Nollywood. I had never heard of it before this week, they produce 1500 films of horrible quality each year - and the Nigerian public laps it up. At 11.02 he complained playfully that we had not yet started: "I thought the Germans were all so punctual!".

The discussion was really good, they explored many topics of what love and how it is portrayed, and the question of whether love is universal or culturally colored. An interesting discussion arose on what sort of things the actors would do on screen but not in real life, and vice-versa. Khan was quite the comedian, the upper balconies hung on every word, stomping and clapping and sighing over everything that he said. The room vibrated with their emotions.

Afterwards I went for a leisurely lunch and a nice chat with a woman from South Africa. On my way back there was still a crowd outside the theater - turns out Khan was signing autographs and had been doing so for an hour or so! Reading the WP article I see he has a Master's Degree in Mass Communication - so he understands how important this signing is. Every one who got the autograph and all her friends will now have to buy Om Shanti Om. That adds up to a lot of sold films! Maybe I'll take my 14-year-old friend who looooooooves Bollywood to go see it next month when it hits the German theaters.

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