Bollywood: The names I don’t give


Dear Ezra and Lian,

Mommy used to have rich and famous friends in India. Like your grandma in India, I will never really understand why she married me. She used to date a Bollywood TV star and a Nepali prince. She went to school with the sister of a famous actress. One of her other friends became a famous actress.

This friend had a secret that few knew. She was an unmarried, single mother. If this was discovered, it would have ended her acting career. An actress in India could never get work with that kind of background. So this woman hid her daughter. She let her mother look after the child, but she did everything she could to pretend that she had no children.

I’m not going to give you her name. It’s none of your business. I don’t want to burden you with that secret. I don’t want others to know. I believe what she did is horrible, but it doesn’t affect how she dances, sings, or acts. It’s not a crime. It’s a private matter. Sure it could sell a million newspapers, but the public has no interest or right to know. That includes you.

People who work for or with the government as elected officials, bureaucrats, police, businessmen, etc. don’t deserve that kind of privacy. Especially, if it impacts on the way they do their jobs. The public has a right to know. This is why there are so many rules regarding access to information, salary and financial disclosure. I’m just a lowly public servant working away in a big, Crown Corporation, yet my income goes on the sunshine list. Anybody can Google it. This lack of privacy comes with the job.

Mommy had a close friend, who at one point was one of the most famous people in India. Kids, this guy looked like and acted like Jesse from Full House, so you will understand what kind of guy he was. I met him a few times. Any time I hear the songs “Crazytown” or the 80’s hit “Round, Round, Baby” I think of him. He played it constantly on a loop in his car, as he drove Mommy and me from Pune to Bombay. I think he was launching one of his businesses and had this kickoff party at a nightclub/bar near the Gates of India in Bombay. There he was surrounded by beautiful people who were trying to be noticed by his other handsome friends. (Terribly boring stuff, I contemplated faking an injury to get out of there, but Mommy would have killed me….which may not have been so bad.)

Fast forward a few years and this vain man absorbed with his hair and body image, was trying to make a go of it in his photo shop. He was out of TV. No more acting jobs or even commercials. People weren’t crowding around him for autographs or attention. He just handed me my photos. Just the two of us in his shop. Fame, good looks and money can all be fleeting. Sure I could use him as morality tale about focusing on stupid priorities. All of my letters have hammered one thing home; your dad has made a lot of stupid mistakes in his life. So I won’t embarrass him. I will embarrass myself. The other thing is that his family were refugees in India from another country. The fact that they made a comfortable living and was accepted by Indians is story of hard work and triumph. Oh, he’s also a private citizen. He’s not asking to be elected or appointed to anything. I leave him alone in peace. I remember a friendly and funny guy, then smile.