Sunday, 13 April 2008

Mousetrap - 144

The original Yahoo!
Shammi Kapoor
Way before David Filo and Jerry Yang named their ‘Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle,’ this Indian film star had already made the word famous on this side of the world. But a lesser-known facet of the exuberant Mr Kapoor is that he was a net pioneer in this country (I’m told he is a founder and still chairman of Internet Users Community of India). This is probably the earliest personal website from a Hindi film star, certainly predating all the slick, commercially produced sites and allegedly personal blogs of today. He built the site himself, and it is dedicated to the Kapoor family. It hasn’t been updated since the late nineties, as far as I can figure, but it’s a wonderful insider look at that fascinating family, with photos of them in their pomp (and also of some of our current sensations in rather more rotund avatars). For a slightly more up-to-date look at Shammiji’s life, check out this fan site.

This column shares one thing with Amitabh Bachchan (aside from our distinguished good looks, natch). Which is that we don’t like the term ‘Bollywood.’ Well, okay, we can’t vouch for Mr B’s scorn—a vastly more connected friend told us of it—or the reasons thereof, but we dislike it because it is derivative, and we think it shouldn’t need to qualify itself against Hollywood. (End rant.) But we, the tall thespian and I, are in a small and shrinking minority. Because sites like this one (at last he gets to the point!) only institutionalise it the more. This one has no India roots as such. The bloggers are from Austria, the USA, Slovenia, Germany and South Africa and are linked by their transparently genuine affection for the popular Hindi film industry (yeah, okay, it is a mouthful). It’s ‘about International Bollywood Community. We write about difference and same views about indian cinema in different countrie. This place is to make bollywood fandome international.’ Aside from regular posts on films, the team also passes around a Shah Rukh Khan doll, which they photograph in a variety of locations, and track via a Google Map.

The Indian Railways Fan Club
Here’s another fan site, for a rather different Indian institution, the good old railways. With apex fares and budget airlines, many of us haven’t been on a train for yonks. But for your columnist, a rail journey has always been ‘real travelling.’ And these railfans (as they call themselves) think so too. This site grew from a mailing list back in the eighties, started by a group of railfans in Amercian universities (hence the ‘A’ in the URL), the contents of which were later archived by several members before being brought together here. You’ll find ‘anything and everything having to do with trains in India!’ Routes and timetables, technical stuff, history, travelogues, photographs, video and audio, simulations, screensavers and more. Lalooji would be pleased. (But no, it’s not connected with the Indian Railways at all.)

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Published in the Times of India, 13th April, 2008.

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