When The Jungle Book (2016) became the highest grossing Hollywood film in Indian market last summer, it triggered a serious concern about Hollywood finally challenging Bollywood in its home ground. Similar concerns were voiced a year before when Fast and Furious 7 (2015) made heavy collections at the Indian box office. Is Bollywood really vulnerable before Hollywood Blockbusters? An in-depth study of Bollywood as a cultural product, designed to cater to its loyal audience, makes one understand how these fears are far from reality.
It is important to understand that Bollywood is a specific form of cultural narrative and film style that developed particularly in 1990’s when India implemented economic reforms inviting global finance and capital. It is a perfect case study of vernacular anxieties about how to “protect cultural autonomy and economic survival in some local, national, or regional sphere”(Appadorai,2001,p3) amid growing interconnectedness in the age of Globalization.
Nation, modernity, westernization and national identity have been addressed in postcolonial Hindi cinema frequently. However, in post-global era the issue of national identity was negotiated in an entirely different manner where the subject was no longer a villager longing to return to its traditional space. Bollywood globalized itself by making migrated NRI its ideal, eligible subject as true Indian in films like Diwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001) and so on.
Thus, by exoticizing Indianness in foreign locations, Bollywood successfully packaged itself as a transnational ‘cultural product’ prepared to transcend borders. Since 1990’s, Bollywood did not counter or encounter west from traditional framework of values. Rather it utilized Indian culture as a ‘portable value’ of its diaspora and became hugely successful alternative paradigm to the overwhelming global presence of Hollywood. “Bollywood recognizes its audiences as the upper middle class diasporic and urban communities whose tastes, values, desires, and consumptions are reflected and re-energized by these films” (Rao, 2007, p74).It is also interesting to note that Bollywood has absorbed Hollywood style of filmmaking but by contextualizing itself in the indigenous national-cultural environment ,it became an alternate mode to Hollywood.
by Swati Bakshi
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Hamm, R. and Smandych, R. (2005). Cultural Imperialism-Essays on the Political Economy of Cultural Domination. Ontario: Broadview press.
Rao, S. (2007). The globalization of Bollywood: An ethnography of non-elite audiences in India. The Communication Review, 10, 57–76. Available from 10.1080/10714420601168491[Accessed 10 February 2017].
Topia, T. (2016). Consuming Bollywood [image]. Available from http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x52z0n6_pdf-consuming-bollywood-gender-globalization-and-media-in-the-indian-diaspora-full-online_lifestyle [Accessed 11 February 2017].