Bollywood's Popular Culture In The South Asian Diaspora

3243 words - 13 pages

Bollywood's Popular Culture in the South Asian Diaspora

The centre of the Indian movie industry is in the Indian city known as
Bombay, which has since been renamed Mumbai. Owing to the industrial
resemblance with the American movie city Hollywood, the Indian movie
industry came to be known as Bollywood. Bollywood is now an industry
of massive proportions, and far from simply producing cinema; it is
also closely interwoven with industries concerned with music, clothes,
magazines, DVDs, jewellery and cosmetics. Bollywood has become
popular culture, which is distributed worldwide and sells at a
phenomenal pace. The Bollywood film, far from its popularity being
isolated to India, has also found popularity amongst ‘Indians’ in Asia
(Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka etc), countries where Indians were
originally sent as indentured labourers such as South Africa, Jamaica
and Mauritius, and increasingly with the growing group of Indians in
western countries, especially Great Britain, Australia, Canada and the

The Swedish anthropologist Hannerz describes these groups of people
descending from one source culture and living across the globe as a
global ecumenicity. The concept no longer refers to the biblical
diaspora in which the expulsion of the Jews determined the image. The
present notion of diaspora is detached from its religious meaning and
now refers to physically scattered but, but still culturally related
communities, who all form a specific global ecumenicity. (R
Gowricharn, Professor of multicultural cohesion and transnational
studies at the University of Tilburg, The Netherlands)

In this sense, communities of Indian origin consider themselves as one
large civilisation of which the Bollywood popular culture is an
intrinsic part. Therefore the popularity of the Bollywood movies is
not restricted solely to resident Indians but is massively far
reaching, encompassing the entire South Asian diaspora, and extending
further to a major part of the world’s population.

Since the turn of the millennium Lagaan has been nominated for an
Oscar, Monsoon Wedding achieved blockbuster status and Devdas was the
first Bollywood film to be screened at Cannes. Additionally with the
momentum of Baz Luhrmann’s Bollywood-inspired musical Moulin Rouge,
and the stage production of Bombay Dreams (by A R Rahman and Sir
Andrew Lloyd Webber) it seems entirely evident that the Bollywood
aesthetic of song, dance and extravagance is on the brink of becoming
wholly mainstream. Meanwhile, the surprise British hits Bend it like
Beckham and Anita and Me have brought to light another perspective:
the stories of the Indian diaspora.

Since India’s independence its cinema has arguably been the most
influential cultural force for shaping and reflecting the evolving
landscape of Indian identity,...

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