FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
The Magic of Bollywood: At Home and Abroad
Posted:Dec 10, 2012
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

By Amit Ranjan

Book Review: The Magic of Bollywood: At Home and Abroad

Edited by: Anjali Gera Roy

Publisher: Sage Publications; New Delhi

Pages 334

After Joseph S Nye coined the term “Soft Power” (culture, language etc), it became a fad and, for some, an academic necessity to use it to discuss notions of ‘power’ in international politics. Though accepted, still unmoved by this concept, many scholars, especially realists, believe that it is “Hard Power” (military capability, economy etc), which drives the soft power. After realising the fact that soft power does not move alone, Nye came out with a revised thesis and coined the term “Smart Power”, which is a combination of hard and soft powers.

Hollywood movies are one of the leading gross revenue earners and have presence in everyone’s life across the globe merely because the United States of America is the sole superpower. In a foreword, The Magic of Bollywood: At Home and Abroad, Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed writes that despite his opposition to the US aggression on Vietnam and its one-sided support to Israel, he was an ardent consumer of Hollywood films merely because they excelled in entertainment and that must be granted to them notwithstanding US international politics. He is correct, but there are Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Iranian, Spanish and French movies with an equal or even a higher level of entertainment. Despite that due to respective country’s power status in the international order, their films have failed to generate even one-fourth of enthusiasm, as Hollywood films generate among the moviegoers.

The contributors to this book have maintained that post-Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenga (DDLJ), Hindi movies have spread their wings and established their presence in almost every part of the world. DDLJ was released in 1996 and by that time, India had entered into the second phase of its successful economic reforms. Also, by that time, in global media debate had been started about India’s potential and its future role in international politics. At the same time, the western scholars were also debating about ‘China’s Peaceful Rise’ and ‘China Threat’. In both cases, India’s role was also emphasised upon. Those who believed in the former started predicting about the (im-) possibilities of the parallel rise of the two Asian giants, while for the latter, India could act as the ‘off-shore balancer’ to China. In 1998, after Pokhran-II, India became a nuclear power. Thus, after an economic boom and the possession of destructive, military weapons India had acquired all means to be an ‘effective’ hard power. This situation supported the Hindi movies to, what Henri Lefebvre said, produce wider (emphasis mine) social space. Prior to it, Hindi films had limited presence.

The contributors have written about the influence of Hindi movies in various parts and communities of the world. In Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Russia, Canada, South-East Asia etc Bollywood has marked its presence. Among communities, the Hausa tribe in Nigeria, Indophilles in Senegal and Javanese in Indonesia has been very much attracted towards Hindi films. Despite consistently projecting, with few exceptions, Pakistanis as ‘evil-doers’ Hindi films have a strong presence in Pakistan. Shahnaz Khan in her chapter, which is based on a field study, has talked about the reasons behind that. There is also a chapter talking about the identification of Pakistan and Pakistani in Hindi films.

On the basis of its global presence Hindi movies have acted as a soft power but in an opposite way. They have influenced the Indian spectators by presenting western values, institutions and landscapes. The picturesque locations of Europe and Australia have been presented in front via Hindi movies. Thanks to Bollywood, everyone, in India, knows what Harvard or Oxford means. Pre-marital sex is no more considered as a grave sin by the younger generation. So, it is the wes that has entered into the Indians’ life and not the opposite. Except the idea of joint family, no other a uniquely Indian thing or notion has Bollywood been able to leave in the minds of its global viewers. This they have promoted mainly to compete against movies from the western countries that focus upon individualism.

The best chapter of this book is Tawaif to Wife: Making Sense of Bollywood’s Courtesan. The author talks about the role of courtesan (tawaif) in Hindi cinema. She also talks about the definition of the role of women by stakeholders of patriarchical political values. This book also talks about the role of Indian Diasporas in popularising Hindi movies in country of their residence. It also talks about the rising gross revenue by this industry. The contributors have beautifully narrated the changes Bollywood have been through since India’s independence in 1947. With changes issues, norms and values have also changed. Emphasis now has been shifted from socialism to consumerism.

Finally, in 2012, Hindi film industry has celebrated its 100 years of existence. Therefore, this book is a timely presentation. It presents an angle or an approach to look at Hindi cinema. One may disagree with the approach but cannot ignore the erudite work by the editor and the contributors.

The writer is an assistant professor (guest) at the Delhi University, New Delhi. He can be reached at amitranjan.jnu@gmail.com

The Daily Times, 11 December 2012

 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
India's successful launch of putting a record 104 satellites into orbit is a wake-up call for China's commercial space industry which has a lot to learn from New Delhi's frugal space programme, a Chinese government mouthpiece that publishes in English said in one of its rare editorials in which it commended an Indian action
 
read-more
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Israel later this year – a first by an Indian head of the government that comes 25 years after the two countries established full diplomatic ties. The visit, a long awaited one.
 
read-more
spotlight image For a Dongria child, the schooling process not only displaces him of the community and the land but also displaces him from his own way of seeking truth i.e through nature, writes Rajaraman Sundaresan for South Asia Monitor.
 
read-more
Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre invites you to a lecture in the Changing Asia Series by Dr.Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research on Asia: Hope for the Future or Prisoner of the Past?    ...
 
read-more
US President Donald Trump’s first few days in office have witnessed a profusion of apocalyptic predictions for the world economy.  His unabashed move to encourage protectionism in the world economy does not augur well for the future of the trading regime
 
read-more
It is high time that Taiwan differentiated its position from Beijing’s claim on South China Sea, writes Namrata Hasija for South Asia Monitor.
 
read-more
At the moment, Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari is able to stop the violence by pushing the Islamists to the vast Sambisa forests of the Borno State At the moment, Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari is able to stop the violence by pushing the Islamists to the vast Sambisa forests of the Borno State
 
read-more
Sometime in later half of last year when Indo-Pak tensions peaked, military operation heads in J&K received unusual calls on their landlines. Sometime in later half of last year when Indo-Pak tensions peaked, military operation heads in J&K received unusual calls on their landlines.
 
read-more
Column-image

India remians the inflexible bête-noir for Pakistan, yet there are few books by Indian authors that have sought to interpret the prodigal neighbour in a holistic, informed and empathetic manner.

 
Column-image

The line that Mortimer Durand drew across a small map in 1893 has bled the Pashtun heart ever since. More than a century later both sides of that line remain restless. But the mystery behind what actually happened on 12 November 1893 has never ...

 
Column-image

What went wrong for the West in Afghanistan? Why couldn't a global coalition led by the world's preeminent military and economic power defeat "a bunch of farmers in plastic sandals on dirt bikes" in a conflict that outlasted b...

 
Column-image

What will be Pakistan's fate? Acts of commission or omission by itself, in/by neighbours, and superpowers far and near have led the nuclear-armed country at a strategic Asian crossroads to emerge as a serious regional and global concern whi...

 
Column-image

Some South African generals, allied with the British forces, sought segregation from the enlisted men, all blacks, after being taken prisoners of war. The surprised German commander told them firmly that they would have to share the same quarte...

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive