Reupped in case you missed it, here.
[Originally posted in April 2010.] At some point in 1994 when I was living in St. Paul, Minn., a friend across the river in Minneapolis took me to see an Indian film, the title of which had been translated as “God Is My Witness.” This three-hour 1992 Bollywood epic following a couple of generations of Afghan tribes-people was the first Indian movie of any kind that I had ever seen.
To say that I was not really prepared for it is both an understatement and the wrong approach. More than any other film I’ve seen, “Khuda Gawah” completely changed my life forever. I loved every second of it: the supercharged game of buzkashi that opens and sets the pace and tone; the incredible songs (composed by superstar team Laxmikant Pyrarelal); and the fabulous performances by Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi:
It is no exaggeration when I say that I spent the next 10 years of my life desperately searching for a tape or CD of this soundtrack. Unfortunately, I was missing a key piece of information: Hindi Bollywood film titles are never, ever, ever translated into English, even though DVDs of almost every Hindi Bollywood film have English subtitles. As I discovered on subsequent trips to Devon Avenue in Chicago, "God Is My Witness" was not a film that anyone working in an Indian video/CD store was familiar with.
It wasn't until 2004, three years after I moved to the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn, that I discovered first a DVD of the film (I instantly recognized the image on the cover) and then, shortly thereafter, a CD of the soundtrack (shown above), at a Pakistani video store on Coney Island Avenue (Pak Video, 1058 Coney Island Avenue, just below Foster).
Six years later, I'm still listening to this remarkable CD; it remains one of my all time favorite Bollywood soundtracks.