To infinite and beyond: The Exploitation of the Bollywood Spectacle

Lets get you started, watch this video before reading and then analyse it once your done reading. For those with a sweet tooth.

Previously Hollywood ran the pack being first in the world film production but lately there has been a shift and as India and China wrestle to take control of global film flows from previous western dominance. This change seen as recent as 2009 where Hollywood ranked 3rd in the Big 5 of the film production world despite producing 734 film , a far cry from leader Bollywood (India) with 1288 and Nollywood (Nigeria) with 987. The inter-relationship between countries had created structures of hybridity in order to meet increasing demand for glocalized content within globalized distribution networks. This is seen all around the world but more so in media capitals ( which I talked about in my previous blog) and Ang Lee’s “Crouthcing tiger: Hidden Dragon” is a perfect example of hybridisation as it was a “eastern movie for western audiences and a western movie for eastern audiences” (Schaefer & Karan , 2010, p. 311). Hong Kong’s success as a media capital lies in its centrality and marginality, and is “very Chinese and remarkably Western, and yet it’s not really either” (Curtin, 2003).

Let’s break down elements of the film to decide what country has the right to claim the movie as its own. Okay:
– Ang Lee was born in Taiwan but is now an American citizen
– The cast were from Hong Kong, Malaysia, China and Taiwan
– The genre is Wuxia Chinese Martial Arts
– The grew from Hong Kong, China and Australia
– The movie was Mandarin with English subtitles

So what country has the right to claim this film as its own, that is the hard thing and it has always been like this transnational films has always been around. Lets take a quiz, which one of these directors are American, Chaplin, Fritz Lang, Greta Garbo, Hitchcock, Billy Wilder. The answer none. See the thing is that countries more so America has always utilized the best of other cultures and ‘copy-and-pasted’ them as their own, in order to boost the entertainment value.The interest in the Bollywood spectacle, (frequent dance numbers and bright colours) and Indian culture is something Subway employed in their new commercial. It showed stereotypically Bollywood dancing girls a blend of “iconography and American consumption practises” (Schaefer & Karan , 2010, p. 312).


Bollywood film’s success may be contributed to the entertainment value, and the emergence of global network of formal and informal channels for the promoting of these films just shortly after India’s economic liberalization in 1991and even though many may not understand the Hindi dialogue they catch the spirit of the films and look at India with stars in their eyes as a result.

This may result in obvious ‘cultural appropriation’ as the two videos featured which use the New Zealand ‘Haka’, a traditional dance/ chant of Maori and Islander. Ask yourself the question is this a good thing or bad, is it better for all the world to share ideas and resources or does it destroy cultural identity, the true consequences or benifits are yet to be seen.

Schaefer , D.J & Karan ,K 2010, Problematizing Chindia: Hybritidity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows, in Global Media and Communication , volume 6, Sage publications, London, UK, pp.309- 316


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