That Bollywood is a worldwide phenomenon is a well-known fact. Go to countries such as Egypt or Russia and you’d find Bollywood fans with more knowledge of the Indian film industry than not only their own, but even most Indians. Such love and fandom would naturally be a cause of pride and happiness for most Indians, but the experience was a tad bit different for 26-year-old Fabienne Menoud.
Menoud, a nurse in Haiti, is a huge Bollywood fan, who has been following the film industry and its stars ever since she was 14. “My love for Bollywood began when I was 14 and my geographic teacher teach us about India and show us Bend It Like Beckham,” she told indianexpress.com.
Well, her fascination not only led her to watch countless movies, but even learn Hindi and also cover the IIFA 2016 event for a French media company. But things weren’t as smooth as one would expect for such an ardent admirer, who even got the chance to meet a couple of Bollywood stars such as Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. According to an open letter she wrote after facing racism on several instances, she was discriminated against because of her “ethnicity and color”.
“I decided to write this letter…because I wanted to let people know that no matter what your passions is you shouldn’t be ashamed of and also to show people that a passion has no boundaries and that can not judge the credibility of a passion because of the skin color or the background even the gender and that people should be proud to know that people love their culture their country and be happy about that instead of laughing at them,” Menoud said.
A simple scroll down Menoud’s Facebook wall – peppered with photos of her with several Indian stars and Bollywood news – shows her love for Bollywood, which makes it even more ridiculous that someone like her should go through such experiences.
Read the full letter here.
I am a girl from Haiti and have been a fan of Bollywood since I was 14 years old. I discovered Bollywood through my lessons at school and with the movie Bend it like Beckam. I am now 26 and my passion for Bollywood has only increased with time.
If I decided to write an open letter today, it is to point out the challenges in being a Bollywood fan of another ethnicity.
I have at least 100 CDs of Indian movies, several Hindi learning books and some on Indian culture and travelling to India. I also convinced my mother to add three Indian channels in our TV box because of my love for Bollywood movies and Koffee with Karan.
However, I am sad to say that it is not easy for me to be a Bollywood fan. I had many bad experiences where people did not take my love for Bollywood seriously because of my ethnicity and color.
For instance, when a famous star was shooting for the pilot of her show abroad, I went to meet her along with my cousin. We were the only black people in the line. A guy from her team came to us and began questioning us. He asked how we know of the star! I was shocked as he did not believe that we are genuine fans of hers.
Another time, I went to IIFA, Madrid and was attending a presscon on behalf of a French media where I was working. A lady looked at me in a strange way and began questioning me. Though I explained I am from the media, she gave me queer looks. At the end of the presscon when I asked a couple of celebrities for pictures, they just walked away. I was shocked and wondered why it happened!
During the media interviews at IIFA, each celeb was in a room were media could interview them for a few moments. Imagine my shock when the bodyguard let everyone enter except me. People behaved strangely all through the event. They would look at me, laugh at me and some kid even tried to kick me.
My friend and I were the only two black people there and we felt terrible being left out like that.
When I went to watch Ae Dil Hai Mushkil recently, people were staring at me like I was an animal!
See, there are no rules about who should love what! My passion is India, I love listening to Bollywood songs. I love Deepika Padukone and have a t-shirt of her. I love Indian food, I’m learning Hindi and I’m black, Haitian and proud!
You should be proud that people like me like your country, your culture, your industry. That we want to meet you to tell you that we love you! Do not look at us in a weird way just because of our skin color.
We are in 2017 and even if you think that only Indians are Bollywood fans, you’re wrong!
Menoud says it’s one of her dreams to be able to come to India “to go see the screening of DDLJ in the theater, to see the Taj Mahal…but also the multiple studios of Bollywood. For me it is the country I want to visit so bad”.
Given her love for Indian movies, we’re sure she’ll be trotting across India soon enough, and welcomed with open arms!
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