Bollywood: Selling Indian Movies in the West

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  • Topic: Bollywood, Cinema of India, Parallel Cinema
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BOLLYWOOD
Selling Indian Movies in the West

INTRODUCTION
India’s most prominent movie industry is known by the name of Bollywood. It recently became the largest movie industry in the world (Jones, Arora, Mishra and Lefort, 2005; Srinivas, 2002). The name Bollywood is a reference to Hollywood, in which the “B” stands for Bombai, the city in which Bollywood originated. Bollywood is making thousands of movies every year with one of the world’s largest audiences. Bollywood has always exported their movies to the exSoviet Union, the Middle East, parts of Africa, South-East Asia, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and wherever there are Indian immigrants in for instance North America, Australia, Hong Kong and the U.K. (Srinivas, 2002). However, in addition to selling tons of movies to Indian people all over the world, Bollywood is now attempting to show its movies to all the other people all over the world. Nico Rogosky, account executive for Pentagram Asian films North America, was asked by Bollywood producer Anjali Kumar to market and distribute two new Bollywood movies. However, it is debatable if Bollywood movies will become a success in Western countries.

BOLLYWOOD: AN ALAYSIS
One of the things we have to take into account is that there are various culture specific elements to Bollywood movies that may have implications for their potential success in Western countries. It is in our best interest to find out what these cultural elements are and how they might influence the adaptation of Bollywood movies in the West. One of the most typical characteristics of Bollywood movies is the role of music in all the movies. Hindi movie songs are commonly discussed as an independent tradition of popular music that has little to do with movies (Morcom, 2001). However, movie songs help sell new movies and contribute to the formation of India’s national identity (Hoffheimer, 2006). Even though Indian and Western music are usually thought of as completely different, interestingly there is a considerable amount of mutual compatibility between the usage of certain musical techniques in both Indian and Western movie music (Morcom, 2001). When questioning if Western audiences like this kind of music, one can refer to the success of the in 2002 launched musical Bombay dreams 1. Moreover, Indian movie music was recently being remixed and used in American music. For instance, the 1970s Hindi song, Kaliyon Ka Chaman was remixed in 2003 into the platinum selling Hip Hop track, Addictive by Truth Hurts (Jones et al., 2005). Thus, it seems that Indian music and musicals like Bombay dreams are quite popular in Western Europe and the U.S. Furthermore, it seems that Hollywood is getting a lot of inspiration from Bollywood nowadays (Jones et al., 2005). As a result, Indian movies are being remade into American movies. What is more, Hollywood is also literally copying elements from Bollywood movies. For instance, in Bollywood movies the narrative often shifts between reality and fantasy and in time and space. Recently, Hollywood movies are experimenting with these devices such as flashbacks and ‘flash-forwards’ that were characteristically used by Indian moviemakers (Srinivas, 2002). A next characteristic of Bollywood movies, which can be considered a culture specific element, is language. This is because most Bollywood movies are Hindi (language) movies. However, according to Srinivas (2002) language is no barrier to the Bollywood movies’ reach. Hindi (language) movies are also popular in non-Hindi speaking areas of India. Additionally, with present day technology, a lot of Bollywood movies are already available on DVD and those that are marketed in the West have optional English subtitles (Hoffmeijer, 2006).

1

Bombay dreams is a Western Bollywood-themed musical which ran for several years in London and on Broadway.

One of the universal elements of Bollywood movies is emotion. Emotions play a key role in all movies and are obviously...
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