Jumped at chance to visit India: Elijah Wood (IANS Interview)

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) The tunes of Bollywood songs of 1970s and 1980s, the culinary delights and Lata Mangeshkar’s voice – there were many reasons why Elijah Wood, the blue-eyed Frodo Baggins of “The Lord of the Rings”, wanted to visit India. And he says he jumped at the opportunity when it came knocking at his door.

In India on a three-city tour, he’s mesmerised with the desi version of his idea of Thailand’s ‘tuk-tuks’ and was pleasantly surprised that the “nightmarish” traffic he had heard of, wasn’t “quite the reality” when he landed into Mumbai. More than that, he’s loving the hospitality.

“People have been so friendly, accommodating and hospitable… it’s been lovely,” Elijah told IANS in a telephonic interview from Mumbai, where he performed on Thursday.

India is a place I always wanted to travel to. It is culturally and ‘culinarily’ rich… I’ve always been fascinated by India as it’s one place in the planet that has such a singular identity.

“The kind of rich history, incredible history of Bollywood… so I jumped at the chance to come here when the opportunity came,” said the 34-year-old, who is one half of the DJ duo Wooden Wisdom with Zach Cowie.

Getting a chance to entertain his Indian fans — in Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad — with music, was something Elijah was truly excited to do.

“We have brought a lot of records that many people wouldn’t have heard of here before. That’s exciting. We play a lot of soul, funk and international stuff from Africa and Turkey…we actually brought some Bollywood soundtrack mix stuff too!

“It’s honestly the best part of doing what we do — to play music for people, travel to different countries, countries we have always wanted to travel to — meet different people, and also experience their cultures and buy their records.

“We are excited about shopping for records in India too,” he said in his delightful voice, which he has lent to animated films like “Happy Feet” and “Spyro”.

He admits he has “never seen an entire Bollywood film”.

“But I’ve seen some of the song sequences…my knowledge comes from soundtracks and some compilations, which have come out in the 1970s and 1980s…old Bollywood numbers. I’ve always loved Lata Mangeshkar…her voice is lovely,” he said.

While in India, he hopes to take more rides of the auto-rickshaw, which he finds an interesting version of “Thailand’s ‘tuk-tuks'”!

“It seems that’s the only way to get around through the traffic,” he quipped.

Overwhelming, is it… the traffic in India, for him?

“It’s fine. We heard a lot about your (country’s) traffic, but we thought it was okay… People said it could be nightmarish, but it wasn’t as bad as we were anticipating,” he said.

Not sure about just what all he wants to explore in the country, Elijah is happy to have a child-like excitement about being here.

“Everything is so brand new to us, and so exciting…. it’s an entirely new experience for us.”

Hopefully, a memorable one too!

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at radhika.b@ians.in)

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