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India Comes to Tucson

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Neelam Sethi has lived in the United States for almost 27 years, but she will never lose her love and admiration for her home country.

Sethi was born in Allahabad, India. When she was 21 years old, Sethi married her husband and moved to the United States. More than 2 1/2 decades later, Sethi is sharing her passion for her home country with Tucsonans.

The Fox Tucson Theatre will be the scene of the second annual Bollywood at the Fox. Sethi's India-saturated event has been created to showcase the unique cultures of India and act as a benefit to support the recently restored Fox Tucson Theatre.

Sethi says that there is no better place than the Fox to hold the event that is dedicated to her home country.

"We had something so gorgeous, and we were almost ready to tear it down." says Sethi. "It is an ideal setting to showcase the ancient culture."

Bollywood at the Fox will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, with a mela, or street party. Sethi says that mela means "a coming together of friends and festivities."

Upon entering the mela, female guests will be given a package of bangles and bindis that Sethi brought back from India. Also featured at the mela will be Indian food catered by Kababeque, Indian Taj Mahal beer and other beverages, girls dancing to Indian music, and an opportunity to receive a traditional henna tattoo. The mela will provide guests with the opportunity to mingle and be swept away to ancient India.

"People have a thirst for learning about other cultures," Sethi says. "The desire to know is so great. I loved my life and my upbringing, and I just wanted to share it."

The mela will be followed by a film screening at 7 p.m. Parineeta takes place in Calcutta, India, and focuses on the tumultuous love affair between childhood friends Lolita and Shekhar.

Sethi believes that the film screening will also help share the culture of India and introduce people to the phenomenon of Indian films.

"India makes the largest number of movies in the world. Indian movies are so beautifully done. The color, the music, the storyline, everything is beautiful."

Following Parineeta will be an outdoor array of teas, coffee and Indian desserts.

Bollywood at the Fox takes place at 5 p.m., Saturday, April 28, at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. Tickets are $50 for orchestra level seating, $100 for balcony VIP seating and $250 for limited loge seating for two. Tickets are available by calling the Fox box office at 624-1515. Visit the Fox Web site for more information.

Since moving to the United States 27 years ago, Sethi says, she has often been asked where she is from, why she wears the clothing she wears, what she eats, and about other aspects of her culture. She always shared her Indian culture with friends, but when she moved to Tucson six years ago, she was inspired to share it in a different way.

Sethi also believes that the Fox is worth supporting, because it contains history and fond memories for so many people in Tucson.

"People always say, 'We love the Fox; we remember being children there,' 'I remember my first date there,' 'I remember my first kiss there.'"

Bollywood at the Fox is a great chance to support the Fox Tucson Theatre and discover the many jewels of Indian culture, Sethi says. "It's a chance to get a flavor of India without the 30 hour flight."

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