It’s a big world out there, and here in America we don’t see a lot of it.
Consider the death of actor Rajesh Khanna, the first superstar of “Bollywood,” the Indian film industry. Khanna, who was nicknamed “Kaka,” was a romantic actor who starred in more than 160 films that set sales records and were seen by millions.
At the height of his fame, Khanna was astonishingly popular. According to one obituary, he was “like the Beatles” and was routinely mobbed by female fans who kissed his car, got married to his photograph, and sent him creepy marriage proposals written in their own blood. When the tastes of Indian fans turned from romantic films to action-oriented movies, he went into politics and served in India’s Parliament. His death was mourned by the President of India, its Prime Minister, and other political leaders.
In short, Rajesh Khanna was a huge figure for millions of people and instantly recognizable to them — but until today I’d never heard of him or any of his movies, and I’m guessing that the same statements would be made by most Americans. It’s just another useful reminder that we live in a very big world, where many of the things that matter deeply to us are irrelevant to billions of fellow inhabitants of planet Earth and we, in turn, are blissfully unaware of the realities of their lives.