My So-Called Bollywood Life(78)

By: Nisha Sharma

“Let’s not forget—”

“Dil To Pagal Hai,” they said in unison.

Winnie grinned and squeezed Raj’s hands. “Don’t resent Dev. He doesn’t deserve to be expelled because of you and me.”

Raj hung his head. “I know. I should’ve told Reece about Jenny’s craziness before the dance.”

“Yeah, and you should’ve stayed away from her.”

“I was an idiot.”

“But you’re going to fix it now, right?” Winnie said as they walked arm in arm through the rain toward the house.



“Did you know she’d never heard of Debbie Reynolds?”

 Winnie gasped. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

“Not at all. Then I made her watch Singin’ in the Rain and she thought it was boring. She thought someone like Adam Sandler could do what Gene Kelly accomplished with his comedic timing.”

“Stop. You’re causing palpitations,” she said, even as a glow warmed her heart.




Aamir Khan, get out of here. It takes longer than one musical number and thirty seconds to put together a big production. Elbow grease, Aamir. It takes elbow grease, sleepless nights, and Mom’s cooking to really make things right.

Planning the Mehta “flash” film festival took every spare moment of the one week she allowed herself. She was able to get the permission of twelve of her favorite filmmakers who’d submitted to the student festival, and she slipped Dev’s movie out of the school database as well since his name hadn’t been cleared yet.

The Friday evening before the event, her family and friends joined in the chaos as they set up the Rose Theater. Folding tables bracketed the lobby and were covered with stacks of pamphlets she’d printed at the local copy store. Henry had helped her with the schedule and flyers about the filmmakers and their shorts, but those hadn’t arrived yet.

Winnie’s father was setting up chairs for the panelists on the stage in the two movie halls they were using for the event. The setup would be simple, and it would be easy to break down once they were done.

 Thankfully, organizing the panelists had been easy, too. Half the filmmakers who had their movies selected agreed to come. The other panelists were Princeton University and Rutgers Film School professors invited by Mr. Reece. He’d been surprisingly supportive about tapping into his contacts. He even said that he was bringing a surprise guest of honor, but he wouldn’t tell her who the guest would be.

“Place is coming together, Winnie,” Henry said as he carried two microphones with dangling cords to the second movie hall.

“Thanks,” she said as she helped him work the wires. “I never thought it would happen this fast. It takes forever to do the student film festival every year. I feel like we’ve been doing it wrong this whole time.”

“Maybe it’s because you don’t have to follow so many rules.”

Winnie laughed. “Amen to that.”

“I wonder who from school is going to show up?”

“Me too.”

She only really cared about two people. Winnie texted both Bridget and Dev to ask them to show up on Saturday night. Neither responded, even though the news of her departure from the school festival should’ve reached them by now. Just as she and Henry finished in the second movie hall, loud banging sounds filtered through from the lobby as Winnie’s mother and grandmother arrived with large boxes.

 “What are you guys doing? What are these things?” When she got closer to help, she could smell the Indian food. “No,” she said. “Absolutely not. Mom!”

Her mother brushed her aside, and said, “People have to eat, no? We’re putting this in Eric’s fridge for tomorrow.”

“Mom, the whole deal is that they buy the food here so the theater can make money. You can’t bring food without checking with me!”

Her mom set the box down on the nearest concession-stand counter. Nani did the same with the box she carried, and when Winnie pulled the cardboard flaps back, she found at least a hundred samosas. The triangle-shaped fried pockets of potatoes and peas were still warm, which meant that her mother and Nani had spent most of the day making them. Large jars containing homemade mint and date chutneys were squeezed along the side. In the second box, a towering mound of fried dough balls soaked in syrup produced a smell that even had Winnie’s mouth watering. Gulab jamun. The devil’s dessert. So sinful and amazing that it shouldn’t exist. She covered the box again and stepped back.