Bollywood: Opposition to Western Culture

November 16, 2011
By

In Tyrrell’s “Bollywood versus Hollywood: Battle of the Dream Factories,” Hollywood seems to be at a constant battle with Bollywood in the struggle to become the dominant cinema power. This struggle reflects the notion of same and other. Before the North Indian popular commercial cinema, Bollywood, became widespread, Hollywood had always been at the center of cinema.  Bollywood, which has become one of the most prolific film industries, challenges the assumption that Hollywood is the mainstream cinema. The production of these Bollywood films is a direct opposition to Classical Hollywood. Indeed, the song and dance sequences of Bollywood films are a form of “opposition to Western cultural imperialism” (329). The star system is also an element of Indian films very distinct from Hollywood films. Western films cannot compete with these mythological films that portray gods and warriors. Thus, the distinct elements of Bollywood film strengthen India’s fight against westernization of culture and film.

 

In addition to the forces of same and other, Tyrell’s article can also be tied to the concept of core and periphery when Tyrell discusses how Hollywood tried to infiltrate the Indian film industry. This article raises a very important question: Which film industry is at the center, and which is at the periphery?

It seems that Bollywood’s core-periphery relationship with Hollywood seems to be a cycle. In some cases, Bollywood seems to thrive as the center cinema, while Hollywood struggles from the periphery. For instance, Bollywood thrives in producing films with song-and-dance sequences, while Hollywood struggles in its attempts to reproduce these sequences. However, in other cases, Hollywood  thrives at the core in its production of action films, while Bollywood is dubbed as “Third World” or “escapist.” Thus, the struggle to become as core country in the cinema production seems to be a perpetual cycle between Bollywood and Hollywood.

One Response to Bollywood: Opposition to Western Culture

  1. Susan Mathew on November 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Hey Taylor! You make a lot of good points here! I have watched my fair share of Bollywood movies myself, and I can definitely see rejections of Western cultural imperialism, especially in the song and dance sequences in older movies. However, this made me think, is the song and dance sequence starting to change to appeal to a wider audience, including the West? In new Bollywood films, many, if not the majority, of the back up dancers are white/non-Indian. Additionally, I have noticed in newer films that the dances are becoming more provocative and less traditional. The dances involve movements that many American music videos exhibit today. I guess I am just curious as to whether what previously used to separate Bollywood from Hollywood is slowly starting to become more like it in order to appeal to a larger fan base. Great ventilation!

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