So, what really is Bollywood? Bollywood is a film industry based in Mumbai India, not India as a whole. With the growth of western appreciation for Bollywood film, components of such are transferred to western cultures film and spark the idea of Bollywoodization.
Bollywoodization refers to Karan and Schaefer’s (2010, p. 312) summary that describes “the emergence of a global network of formal and informal channels for promoting popular Hindi films that emerged after India’s economic liberalization in 1991” (Gokulsing and Dissanayake, 2004; Gopal and Moorti, 2008; Kaur, 2005; Rajadkhyaksha, 2003; Rao, 2007; Roy, 2010).
The production of Bollywood films post India’s liberalization has represented the culture in an appetizing way to the western world. It can be suggested that Bollywood films are shifting to more westernized content as a result of transnationalism. Transnational film blends elements of various nations and is fitting when used to describe cross-cultural film. Hybridization is another term associated with this shift. As Karan and Schaefer states, “production centers will increasingly exploit cinematic contraflows that draw upon structures of hybridity to meet increasing demand for globalized content within globalized distribution networks”. Increased production rates of cinematic contra-flows, along with the terms hybridization and transnationalism correlate and in unison help us form an understanding about the growth of Bollywood.
There are various films that include elements of Indian culture and elements of western culture, linking to Bollywoodization. Lets refer to an American film that features influences from India – Bride and Prejudice. Beneath is a short clip from the film:
Upon viewing the clip one could draw that it is just like any other western musical movie scene – girls having their typical slumber party prancing around in their pyjama’s, frolicking around in a white wedding dress leaping into the man of her dreams . The further the clip is analysed though, the Indian elements are exposed. Apart from the obvious, like the Indian attire and actresses there are components relevant to Bollywood films. The groups of traditional styled dancing is a common feature in Bollywood films, along with engaging and energetic musical scenes.
After viewing this scene whilst taking on board the term hybridity, it can be deduced that it is a transnational film. The blend of complimentary cultures juxtapose both eastern and western culture. This combination of cultural exchange is prevalent in transnational film.
After considering both cultural elements in the film it can be questioned who the film is really targeted for. As Karan and Schaefer state, “Bollywoodization appears to have been absorbed into the conglomerate multicultural marketing toolkit, prompting us to question whose economic interest actually is being served by the soft power potential of the Indian film industry and its cinematic contra-flows” (2010, p. 314). Through the example of Bride and Prejudice it can be seen that Western audiences are valuing and promoting the culture, but is it sheerly through the advantage of theatrical profit? Or a genuine interest and appreciation of culture? Perhaps there is more to growth in transnational film and Bollywoodization that meets the eye.
Karan, K and Schaefer, DJ (2010) ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communication, 6: 3, pp. 309-316.