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Can Bollywood Be Mainstream?

Can Bollywood Be Mainstream?

October 02, 2011

I wonder if Bollywood can become mainstream and global. Or will it forever be a Desi secret?

When I speak to my non Indian friends and colleagues they will invariably admit to having ventured into a bit of Bollywood. They love the dancing, the music, the romance of boy meets girl and the other more obscure storylines that seem to be written by people on drugs or probably 'Bhang'.

I myself love the escapism that Hindi films offer; the whole three hours of it and I will always remember my first ever movie. My dad took me to see Aradhana at the Southall local cinema; circ 197? I loved ever tear-jerking-moment and the experience; though I understood nothing. Long story, but am one of those rare breed of Indians that was never taught Hindi.

Anyway, will Bollywood ever become more mainstream I doubt it; it is too kitsch, niche and insular. It will only ever in my opinion have a fashionable moment – is 'Madonna watching it kind of thing'...Though, I guess it kind of happened with ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’, which was a very clever adaption of a ‘Bolly’ film.

What has become popular are the Indian film stars from Hindi cinema; look at Aishwarya Rai who now rocks up at Cannes and wasn’t Amitabh Bachchan more popular than Sir Lawrence Oliver on a BBC Millennium popularity poll?! Then we have Sharukh Khan, who is also known as the King of Bollywood and who was in the film, ‘My Name is Khan’, which broke many box office records, and became the highest-grossing Bollywood film overseas.

So, I am interested in Reliance ADA owned by the billionaire Anil Ambani, which has huge resources, owns studios, production facilities, radio stations, a record label as well as crucially 50% of DreamWorks. It claimed the top spot in India's all-time box office with 2009 comedy film, '3 Idiots'. There are an estimated 25 million of us Indians abroad, which means Bollywood has scope. This Summer Bollywood released as many films in the UK, as the US studios, Reliance Entertainment's CEO, Amit Khanna says, “We want to confront Hollywood on its own terrain."

What do you think? Can Bollywood cross the global frontier or will the likes of Sholay always be a desi secret? 

6 Comments

  • sjc
    By
    sjc
    03.10.11 02:43 PM
    oops. my first line was meant to read 'Bollywood IS mainstream'.
  • sjc
    By
    sjc
    03.10.11 02:42 PM
    hollywood is mainstream. in the sense everyone knows what it is. but its still just too culturally indian/non western i think to really become a hit with western audiences. if indian cinema wants to get brits, americans and so on watching it, it would better off concentrating on making art/indie pictures like dobi ghat, or peepli live, or black friday or shiva even. those are the films that will get indian cinema respect worldwide. it doesnt have to be like pather panchali, but masala movies arent something the average non asian really gets. its just too culturally alien. and theyre also - especically today - just too mainstream, they dont offer anything alternative enough to what you get from mainstream american cinema. the international films that do well in the west, whether its martial arts films from east asia, arthouse from europe, or even westerns from thailand, theyre all things that westerners just dont see in hollywood/british cinema. it offers a view into another world. too much modern bollywood seems too glossy for its own good, its not really 'different' enough.
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    03.10.11 12:27 PM
    @Satish-Oneeyeclosed - Your comment is priceless and made me laugh - thanks you.
  • Sriram.C
    By
    Sriram.C
    03.10.11 07:22 AM
    If hollywood is used to doing all the impossible things in the screen, then Bollywood is used to doing all the posiible things in the screen. To me, that's the differnce between 'holly' and 'bolly'. I wish, someday Bollywood would strip off its desi tag and come out with scintillating performances....ALL THE BEST BOLLYWOOD. visit: sriramnivas.wordpress.com
  • Sriram.C
    By
    Sriram.C
    02.10.11 11:03 PM
    If hollywood is used to doing all the impossible things in the screens, then Bollywood is used to doing all the posiible things in the screens. To me, that's the differnce between 'holly' and 'bolly'. I wish, someday Bollywood would strip off its desi tag and come out with scintillating performances....ALL THE BEST BOLLYWOOD.
  • satish-oneeyeclosed
    By
    satish-oneeyeclosed
    02.10.11 08:00 PM
    Good one. Best that Bollywood remains what it is, mostly rubbish, but inspired once in a while:)

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