Monday, June 12, 2017

From ‘The Magic of Bollywood. At Home and Abroad’ Edited by Anjali Gera Roy

“’The people of Afghanistan will kill for a Hindi film. They watch nothing but Hindi films……..’ director Kabir Khan, who shot his ‘Kabul Express’ there ……… Hindi films “are hugely popular in Bangladesh and locals can get their Bollywood fix on cable TV and through pirated copies which circulate widely” despite being officially banned since 1972 ….Speaking on behalf of the people of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi admitted, “We all love to watch Hindi movies – Bollywood is better suited to Myanmar’s sensitivities” …….Nepal’s Maoists share with its former royals an interest in Bollywood ……Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif performed at the coronation of the Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who is a big fan of Bollywood ……Sri Lankans are also huge fans of Hindi films according to Lankan actor Jacqueline Fernandez

In markets such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh where the state did attempt to protect its industry and citizens from Bollywood’s hegemonic or “corruptive” influence by banning its imports, citizens devised ingenious strategies to evade state regulation by smuggling them.

Bollywood continues to serve as the diasporas’ link with the homeland and has acquired the added burden of answering second- or third-generation South Asians’ need to connect with their roots…… Bollywood films are often used by parents of Indian origin to transmit cultural knowledge to younger members in Indian diasporas. But more recently, it is the younger generation that has taken a lead in using Bollywood for constructing diasporic identities and in introducing other ethnic groups to its magic.

….Indian films dominate the domestic Indian market. India is the exception to the American domination of the global film business…..In almost every country of the world, including historically film-producing countries such as the UK, France, Germany, and Italy, imported American films have a greater share of the market than do domestic films. India, however, is the largest producer of films in the world and domestic films retain 93-95 percent market share while Hollywood films only take 5-7 percent market share…..The only other country with this extent of domestic film dominance is the US.……In the UK, domestic films take 19 percent share, France 44.8 percent, Germany 25 percent and Italy 24.8 percent. In recent years, Japanese films have seen a revival and now take 53 percent of their national market unlike in previous years when their share was lower……..India’s share of global cinema revenue is only 1 percent and is lower than those Japan, the UK, and France while the US earns 60 percent of the world’s cinema revenue …..

… production in more than one language in any national market is quite rare and is observed in only a few film-producing countries such as Canada and Belgium. However, neither country supports film production in such a wide variety of languages as does India ……..the 1,041 Indian films made in 2005 were produced in 25 different languages… In Canada, films are produced in English, French, and aboriginal languages……. Belgium has two film industries – Flemish (Dutch) and French……..While Indonesia shows considerable linguistic diversity, films are produced in Indonesian, the national language….. “There are no regional film industries in Indonesia” ………

[India]…….. Within 8 years of the arrival of sound, film production had commenced in 11 languages…

The Hindi language film industry is the most prolific of the Indian film industries with average annual production amounting to well over one hundred films …..a total production of 9,937 films in the 75-year period from 1931 to 2005. It is followed by the Tamil (6,362) and Telugu (6,183) language film industries………. Malayalam (3,528), Kannada (2,798), Bengali (2,628) and Marathi (1,287) language industries

Although the main centers of production and distribution within British India were in Bombay ….the film industry also had a considerable presence in Lahore ……. In 1961…the Pakistani State banned Indian films. According to Shahzad Gul ……this ban had a disastrous effect on the Pakistani film industry…… Many producers would go to Kabul along with their directors and scriptwriters where they would view Indian films and later plagiarize them ….the establishment of Bangladesh ….cost the country a substantial part of its market …..meant losing 30 percent of the market in East Bengal where Urdu films made in Lahore were popular………during the dictatorship of General Zia …….There was a brain drain and many filmmakers, film stars, and dancers left the country……the number of film screens in Pakistan which number 120, while there are 9 cineplex screens……..India’s population is five times the size of Pakistan, but it has 12,900 cinemas ……and approximately 645 cineplex screens …….But is the pornographic nature of the bulk of Pakistani films the only reason keeping the audience away……. The increasing sexually suggestive nature of many Pakistani films as well as the high inflation rate appear to have made cinema-going a less than desirable activity for many Pakistanis.

Shuri Mariasi Gietti Tambunan
Indonesian film historians have granted that Indian and Chinese films served as an important model for Indonesian films in the 1950s……….With the downfall of Indonesian film industry in the 1970s and 1980s, Indian films were still shown extensively in movie theaters in big cities in Indonesia. But, as they were perceived to as low-class entertainment, they were only shown in second- and third-class theaters while A-grade theaters were reserved for Hollywood (or Western) films…. In 1991 and 1992 when a private television station broadcasted Ramayana and Mahabharata, Indian television series….these ….were very popular and reached a high rating between 48 and 60, confirming the long-standing popularity of Indian popular culture in Indonesia through television. ……..In the 1990s, ….close to 90 percent of the total population had at least one television set …….However, Bollywood films were still considered as low-class entertainment in the early years of their popularity on television. …….the defining moment of Bollywood’s recognition in Indonesia’s mediascapes is the successful run of the movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai ……….at the end of July 2001, which marked a revival of Indian films’ market among the Indonesian upper class. KKHH created a flurry in the consumption of Bollywood films …. [It] was a bigger box office success than the ‘Titanic’ when it was screened in Indonesia and when the same film was shown on T.V……ratings shot through the roof……. KKHH …..reached its success not only through A-grade theaters (and also the second/third-grade theaters) for the lower classes consumption) but also through its repeated television broadcasts and through pirated VCDs …Bollywood fever has also caused an increasing interest in Indian fashion …….the theme song for KKHH was covered by many Dangdut singers with numerous local …..adaptations. …….Ashraff, a Kerala-born singer, alongwith Iis Dahlia, a popular Dangdut diva, recorded a duet of the KKHH theme song (sung in Hindi) and it became one of the top hit Dangdut songs in the beginning of the new millennium ………instruments and rhythms of both styles are compatible. Hindi music therefore, sounds very familiar and pleasant to many Indonesians serving to intensify the Bollywood film viewing experience for them……
……in early 2000, Indonesian audiences were inundated not only with Dangdut songs inspired by KKHH but also with television products, mostly Indonesian soap operas known as sinetrons, which were basically copycat products of Bollywood films. ……… For many Indonesians, Bollywood’s traditional portraits of family life can easily be identified with their own conceptualization of family life. Bollywood films offer a more identifiable viewing experience  rather than, for example, Hollywood films which emphasize nuclear or single parent, or even dysfunctional, families. …Even if films are about modern families or rich families living in the urban areas, there is bound to be a balancing act in ensuring that the family returns to its traditional values……

Elena Igorevna Doroshenko
Only two factors impeded the Russian audiences’ acceptance of Indian films, namely stereotyping (“Indian films are all same, with the same subject and plot”) and replacing of the “unknown” by the “exotic”……..sloppy translations, poor dubbing, and “Westernization” of the cinematic texts has diluted their famed “exotic appeal” for the Russian audiences since the 1980s and led to their being stereotyped as “naive” …….Indian films …….(2000-2010) continue to be culturally “misread” despite the introduction of a 24-hour Indian film satellite channel and screening of an occasional film on mainstream television…….While Indian films came to the USSR in the 1950s, the three best-known being Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), and Mother India (1957)
…..the hypothesis that the Aryans and other migrating tribes of ancient India actually settled down in the present-day territory of Russia, which is used to justify the Russia’s perception of India as its “long-lost motherland” ……A large number of people in Russia would have memories of growing up with books like the Hitopadesha and with adaptations of The Ramayana and The Mahabharata …….it cannot be denied that the choice of Indian books and films imported by the USSR government was determined, to a great degree, by their shared political ideologies. This explains why Mother India, based on Pudovkin’s Mother (1926) was one of the first films to be imported in the former USSR and won the hearts of a number of Russian audiences. There is no doubt that Raj Kapoor’s films were chosen for exhibition in USSR and Russia for their socialist underpinnings, but their cultural impact far exceeded the political…..although the imported films were carefully translated and adapted, they were not edited or censored, which facilitated comprehension….Songs…..were also translated. But they were never recited over the voice of the performers despite the rest of the film being dubbed. ……this professionalism helped preserve the cultural value of the films and turned them into classics……films, especially foreign ones, were a rare phenomenon in the 1950s help to explain the tremendous popularity of Indian films in the USSR immediately following their import….. 64 million people in the USSR watched Awaara – a record, unbroken even by a recent film like Avatar.
1960s-1980s ……The film epitomizing this period of Indian cinema in the USSR was Seeta aur Geeta (1972) that invites instant recall in a certain generation instead of Awaara and Shree 420. ………the most important point for making the film so popular in the Soviet Union was probably the concept of Navarasa underpinning the film…..unfolds from the mood of suffering in the beginning to that of celebration in the end. When asked about the aspect of Indian cinema they liked most, Russian fans remarked that one was able to experience all kinds of emotions, happiness or sorrow, anger or affection, when one was watching Indian films.
1980s-1990s …..Disco Dancer (1982) came to represent Indian culture of the 1980s in the fomer USSR….the film definitely rings a bell in the majority of Russians because of its theme song, “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja” ………Raj Kapoor’s and Nargis’ acting – expressive, highly emotional, and sincere in every respect – was probably why their characters carried such a tremendous appeal for the audiences in the USSR. As the same principles constitute the core of Russian acting, their films were greatly appreciated. ……..this histrionic legacy was preserved and developed throughout the 1960s and the 1970s. But this high tradition of actors had begun to wane and deteriorate in the 1980s….The characters appeared to have become increasingly “cartoon-like” through their melodramatic display of emotions……
1990s-2010 ……marked by great political and social changes in Russia…….when Indian cinema lost most of its Russian fans ………Cinemas were closing down all over the country …….low-quality videos with shoddy dubbing and translation …..completely destroyed the impact of Indian films……the new Indian cinema and the Yash Raj-Yash/Karan Johar phenomenon passed Russia by……..early 2000s when the state-owned television Domashny (Home) revived the tradition of airing Indian films. The dubbing and the quality of translations …was …superior to that of the pirated videos but still not as professional as it was during the Soviet era………

Gwenda Vander Steene
…….Indian films are also a way for Hausa people of Northern Nigeria to distinguish themselves from the “West” –oriented south …..They allow an alterity to Hollywood domination …….Fuglesang argues that Bollywood offers Kenyan audiences a “reassuring familiarity” as the audience know what to expect in a Bollywood film
Senegal …….The first films came through Senegal via the Middle East, which appears to have had an important role in distributing and subtitling Indian films in Africa. According to Larkin, Arabic and Bollywood films were first imported in Nigeria by Lebanese cinema owners in the 1950s whose expectations of Arabic films becoming popular in African Islamic countries …..were overturned by Indian films that became more popular. In Senegal, too, Arabic and Indian films were imported simultaneously and the latter turned out to have a much bigger success than Arabic ones …were imported massively in the 1970s ……Until today, this first “generation” of Bollywood movies imported in Senegal remains particularly popular not only among the older generation but also among the youth …..:Larkin’s thesis about the popularity of Bollywood rising from the fact of its not being perceived as Western. ……..The first Indophile [people who love and are very attached to Indian films, music, and dance] radio program was broadcast by Radio Senegal in 1967 ………and was an immediate success …….many Indophile associations are organized around an anchorman, usually a well-known Indophile, who organizes soirées indous for their fan clubs ……..the aesthetic aspects, the “beautiful women,” the picturesque settings, the marvelous clothes and makeup are one of the primary reasons why Indophiles love Bollywood……several ……also mentioned the highly melodramatic plots while others cited song-and-dance sequences as the reason for their liking the films and attributed this to the importance attached to music and dance in Senegal…….Fuglesang…….explains….that Bollywood films, insofar as young Lamu women can connect the stories to their own lives or fantasize about their idols, become a place in which people can invest their fantasies …….As a tool for reshaping one’s own life. Bollywood is not merely “passive” entertainment but also has an empowering effect.
“as the women are all the time actively relating film events to their own lives, the films represent a tool for working and reshaping reality rather than a downright escape”…
In this way, the audience actively participates in creating and empowering their own lives and identities.
….gender dynamics…..most of the audience consists of women….Reasons given by Indophiles for this …..are that not only the themes of love, marriage, melodrama and so on have a larger appeal for women but also that the danse indou (Indian dance) is also considered more appropriate ….for women who are believed to be equipped with the skill…. for performing it. …. dance in Senegal, especially the Wolof sabar dance, is mainly done by women. Apart from that, one can notice an evolution toward a marginalization of male dancers in Indian classical dance. Dancing in India is seen more and more as women’s business, ….the same decline of male dancers is found in Egypt throughout the twentieth century ….
…..In Nigeria, …..women lived indoors, women were absent in the cinemas in the 1970s, but gained access to Indian films through the rise of home videos. According to Larkin, Indian films have since then become identified as “women’s films” because of their huge popularity among women……experience as male Indophiles, they conceded that it was sometimes hard in the beginning, as men watching Bollywood were often stigmatized for being gay……Most Indophiles tend to consider Indian and Senegalese culture as similar than different and attribute their love for Bollywood to its reminding them of their own culture, country or customs expressed. …..Several Indophiles point to similarities between Senegalese and Indian dress styles. The style labelled style indou (“Hindu dress style”) that can be described as a kind of fusion style using either Senegalese or imported Indian cloth is very popular among them ….. Indophiles maintain that the images of village life, horses and carts, women fetching water at the well or carrying fire wood on their heads “really make you think you are in Senegal” …….Many values such as hospitality, respect for elders and women, sanctity of marriage, piety and so on, highly regarded in Senegalese society, may also be found in Bollywood films according to some Indophiles. The importance of family networks and living in an extended family is also mentioned….. it is remarkable that many Indophiles are of Fulani origin and their love for Bollywood is explained by their belief that they could be related to Indians ….physical resemblance ….the idea of peul indou (“Hindu Fulani”) used by several (mostly Fulani) Indophiles to refer to the south Indian population …..According to Larkin, the argument that Hausa language and Hindi are similar is often used by people to stress the similarities between both cultures. The same holds true for Senegal. Wolof or Fulani is said to be “very similar” to Hindi ….caabi (key - Wolof) and chaabi (Hindi), asaman (heaven – Wolof and Hindi). Linguists reinforced my hunch that most of the words mentioned as similar are of Arabic origin. ….Larkin ….also stresses the preference for older films and the “West” being defined as the “other” whereas Indian culture is perceived as similar ……..the older generation of Indophiles …..says they love old Bollywood movies because of the values expressed in them such as the importance attached to family networks or a socially acceptable marriage. These values, according to them, remind them of their own past. …..The Indophile “community” encompasses about 30 associations in different cities all over Senegal, apart from all the individuals not belonging to any association.

Zakir Hossain Raju
…….in Bangladesh public sphere, one may feel that the sphere is flooded by things Bollywoodian. …..the fact that Bollywood films are banned from theatrical screening in Bangladesh for nearly five decades now, starting in 1965 …..more than 30 satellite television channels circulate Bollywood films, songs, and gossips round the clock in middle-class living rooms ….all over Bangladesh……In Internet forums, viewers discuss recent Bollywood films (and also Hindi TV soaps) on a regular basis and many a times vent their anger at the sloppy films produced by Bangladesh film industry…..Most authors and media critics in Bangladesh see Bollywood as a cultural predator ….from 2001 to 2011, this tussle between the nationalist middle class and Bollywood has become highly visible……some cultural nationalists and Islamists….find the invasion of Hindi language over Bengali as well as “Hinduization” expedited through Bollywoodization. ……After Bangladesh became an independent nation ….surprising everybody, the Pakistani ban against Indian films was kept in action….a 50-year-old viewer says, “the word cinema meant Hindi cinema mainly and then Hollywood. Yes, there was Pakistani cinema and of course, Bangladeshi ones, but those were few in number.” …… with the availability of consumer VCRs, a trend of consuming Bollywood films at the household level started in the early 1980s ……Small video-theatres started mushrooming in the cities and towns of Bangladesh…..Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun, Zeenat Aman and Hema Malini quickly became familiar names and popular icons among the middle and lower-middle class viewers…..In the 1980s-1990s Bangladesh cinema, plagiarism from Bollywood films became a popular tendency because of the motive of the exhibitors in earning a quick and high profit from the theaters. …….during the last 15 years or so……though Bollywood is still absent in cinema theaters, its circulation has reached almost the entire population in Bangladesh

Teresa Hubel
The tendency in Hindi cinema to depict the courtesan as having few choices is belied by the biographies of actual historical courtesans, many of whom had a substantial range of possibilities available to them. As David Courtney writes……..that were generally denied women of a more domestic nature. If they had professional aspirations, especially in the artistic fields, they had a virtual monopoly. If they desired to settle down marriage was always an option. From what we know of history, when this option was taken it was often with only the wealthiest and most well placed men. Remember their mastery of etiquette and the social graces made the tawaifs a “prize catch” for almost any man. If they desired an independent lifestyle, this too was an option …..denied to most women of that period. This is borne out by an examination of tax rolls that tend to show only tawaifs as female property owners and tax payers. The tawaifs were often poets and authors, in a period when the majority of women were illiterate. When everything was considered, the tawaifs had education, independence, money, power, and self-determination in a period when many women were little more than cattle.

Omme-Salma Rahemtullah
I do not speak Hindi. I am not from India, but am of Indian ancestry, born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and migrated to Canada at a very young age. Yet I feel the need to connect with Bollywood.

Florian Clauss
……people of Turkish origin, who constitute the largest immigrant group in Germany, might have become acquainted with Indian cinema through their transmission on Turkish satellite channels…

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