Bollywood Dance Movies and Indian American Identity Formation

Topics: Bollywood, Qualitative research, Culture Pages: 7 (2255 words) Published: February 23, 2011
Bollywood Dance Movies and Indian American Identity Formation Introduction
Bollywood song and dance draws attention to Indian film studies as one of the most dominant and distinguishing features of the Indian culture (Dudrah, 2006, p.26). Dancing within movies is becoming among the most common attributes of modern popular culture that generates and reflects diversity in cultures and the traditional values of a society. Consequently, films have become a major part of modern society, through which people are becoming aware of different cultures from all over the world. My research explores the roles of dancing within Bollywood movies in constructing and maintaining the cultural identity among second-generation Indian Americans. This study will demonstrate how Bollywood dancing among second-generation Indian Americans intersect to create a notion of “Indianness.” This qualitative research study is based on cultural studies and seeks to explore the role of Bollywood dance in movies in identity construction among second-generation Indian Americans using in-depth interviews, focus groups and participant observations. Discussions generated showed that the process of cultural identity construction and maintenance among second-generation Indian Americas depended on interpersonal communication. Interestingly, the study found that through social factors—family, friends and social activities—in association with Bollywood dance movies play a dominate role in constructing and maintaining second-generation Indian Americans’ identity. Bhuyan (2006) believes that Bollywood dance movies not only acts as a bridge between home and diaspora, but helps transmit the culture and traditions that play a crucial role in maintaining “Indianness,” among second-generation Indian Americans. A Brief History of Bollywood Industry

According to Basu (2004), preserving and maintaining one’s own culture and identity has become a serious challenge. However, with the increasing popularity of Bollywood dance in movies, Mishra (2002) observed that the Indian diaspora are able to stay connected with their homeland and maintain their self-identity through Bollywood dance movies (p.223). Dudrah (2006) noted that Bollywood dance movies’ popularity can be attributed to the growing Indian population overseas (p. 27). “Bollywood” often refers to the style of dance that is used in Indian films (Mishra, 2002, p.225). Palmer (1999), wrote that musical Bollywood dance films often feature four or more complicated group dance sequences, complete with song and bright costumes (p.73). Bollywood dance combines traditional Indian dance style with choreography of western styles like modern jazz and hip hop (Palmer, 1999, p.73-74). The traditional style that is frequently used in Bollywood dance is called Bhangra (Palmer, 1999, p.76). Bhangra is a lively form of folk music and dance that originates from Punjab and is traditionally preformed when celebrating diverse occasions such as weddings and New Year celebrations (Palmer, 1999, p.76). Bhangra has evolved from a dance and music only preformed in the Punjab region, to a popular style of music and dance preformed in many parts of the world (Palmer, 1999, p.76). Mishra (2002) noted that “Bollywood cinema” is a phenomenon unique to the Indian diaspora to stay connected to their homeland and maintain their cultural identity (p. 224). Considering the popularity of Bollywood movies among the Indian diaspora, particularly in the United States, it is important to study the cultural identity formation among second-generation Indian Americans by examining the roles of Bollywood dance in maintaining their identities. Before we examine how Bollywood dance movies intersect to create a notion of “Indianness” among second-generation Indian Americans it is important to understand the concepts like “Indianness” and cultural identity. On being Indian

According to Cohn (1972), “Indianness” is nothing but a “psycho-social product of...

References: Bhuyan, A. (2006). Indian Diaspora The Bridge That Links India to the World. Retrieved Feb 13, 2010, from
Basu, P. (2004). My own island home: The Orkney homecoming. Journal of Material Culture, Vol. 9(1), 35-47.
Bhat, C. (2006). Continuity and Change in the Perception of ‘Indianness’: Issues of identity among the Indians and the Indian diaspora. The Discovery of India. Berlin: LIT Verlag. 243-250.
Cohn, B. (1972). Indian: The Social Anthropology of a Civilization. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 67-71.
Dudrah, R.K. (2006). Bollywood: Sociology Goes to the moves, (p. 25-44). New Delhi: Sage Publications.
Fontana, A. & Frey, J.H. (2005). The sage handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 150-157.
Jung, E. & Lee. C (2004). Social construction of cultural identity: An ethnographic study of Korean American students. Atlantic Journal of Communication, Vol. 12(3), 146-147.
Mishra, Vijay (2002) Bombay cinema and diasporic desire. Bollywood cinema: Temples of desire. Routledge: London. 221-226.
Singh, K. (2003). The End of IndiaI. India: Penguin Books. 22-23.
Palmer, C. (1999). Spectacular Bollywood. Calcutta: Singnet Press. 73-83.
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