Bobby-Mania Sweeps India
'Bobby-Mania' Sweeps India By JOE GANDELMAN Copley Newsservice NEW DELHI—Once upon a recent time, a tall, graying Sikh decided to treat his two young nieces and lake them where they had long wanted to go. So he picked them up at their school on a blazing New Delhi afternoon. ' "Oh, please, uncle, let us go home and change our clothes," the nieces pleaded. "Do not take us in our schools uniforms. We cannot see 'Bobby' looking like this." Millions of Indian youths are reacting with equal reverence and excitement as "Bobby-mania" continues continues to spread across India like an incurable disease. "Bobby," a product of Bombay's superslick, glossy and commercialized film industry, has been hailed by young disciples as "an Indian teen-age 'Love Story' " and denounced by elderly agnostics as "a sad commentary commentary on a society that forces the educated young to seek refuge in escapism." In the more than six months since "Bobby" was unleased upon India's movie-hungry public, its songs have become as frequently hummed off-key and cliched as "The Sound of Music's," its stars as popular as Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal. A Bobby mcrchnadise-blitz worthy of Madison Avenue has generated untold revenues from products bearing the Bobby seal of approval. There are Bobby cosmetics, Bobby records, even a Bobby-cycle—a motorcycle just like the one Bobby uses in the picture. This Indian "happening" surfaced immediately upon "Bobby's" release. Although blacklisted in New Delhi by distributors warring with the film's producer, veteran actor Raj Kapoor, Delhi residents flocked to see the movie some 40 miles outside the capital. The theater was mobbed. Tickets sold rapidly on the black market at almost nine time the normal price. In a nation where television is in its infancy (and overly precocious), films like "Bobby" provide mass entertainment to India's millions, who lap up movie gossip, loudly sing film songs and spend their money on countless fan magazines. "Bobby's appeal lies in its plot and, most importantly, importantly, its stars, both making screen debuts. The film, containing a motorcycle scene reminiscent of "Easy Rider," concerns two teen-age lovers romancing despite parental disapproval. Like "Love Story" there are young-versus^ld, rtch-versus- poor themes. Unlike in Eric Segal's "classic," "Bobby's" heroine does not die in the end, since that would be unthinkable unthinkable to Bombay's dream factory. The tw.0 young lovers, however, do give suicide a try, only to be saved by their old-fogeyish parents who see the light, repent, and consent. Bobby is played by Rishi Kapoor, coincidentally son of producer-director Raj Kapoor and the latest in the half dozen Kapoors who dominate India's film industry. industry. India boasts the Kapoorest film industry in the world. But what really excites Indians is the female lead, Dimple Kapadia. Dimple, who has a sister named Simple (but apparently no brother named Pimple), attended the film's premier with popular actor Rajesh Khanha, married him soon after and retired from the screen. The question on every Indian's lips is now: "Will Dimple return to the film world??" Meanwhile, Bobby-maniacs continue lining up before theaters, waiting with curried breath for India's India's two heartthrobs, a success not going unnoticed in Bombay. Like in the United States, the Indian film industry copies success, even often indulging in outright plagiarism. Some predict there will soon be a spate of Bobbys, Johns, Morrises or, perhaps, Mohans. And that, say older Indians, may test the durability of India as never before.