The Bollywood in Indian and American Perceptions A Comparative Analysis

Jonathan Matusitz and Pam Payano


This analysis compares Indian and US perceptions of Bollywood. It is the first to provide such a comparison. Overall, the authors found that both Indian and US perceptions of Bollywood are positive and negative. On some dimensions, Indian and US perceptions differ sharply from each other; on other dimensions, a few similarities become apparent. Overall, Indian perceptions of Bollywood are both negative and positive. While their concept of Bollywood is perceived as demeaning, stereotyping of the Muslim culture, and alienating economically and culturally marginalised audiences, it is also recognised as treasuring India’s national identity, portrayal of women in some circles (e.g., alcoholics attempting to become accepted into the chic and alluring society), Hindi traditional lifestyles, and lighthearted humor. While the Bollywood phenomenon has permeated many cultures worldwide, these cultures still differ in the way they perceive this rising Indian movie industry. Not only does this analysis serve to demonstrate many lessons in cross-cultural understanding; it also corroborates the fact that Bollywood embodies an emerging socio-economic current of globalisation. It is one of the largest movie industries in the world, producing about 1,000 movies a year, and it has heavily influenced Hollywood and other Western movie markets.


Bollywood, culture, Diaspora, globalisation, India, United States


This analysis compares Indian and US perceptions of Bollywood, a growing Indian movie industry based in Mumbai. This analysis is the first to provide such a comparison. Overall, the authors found that both Indian and US perceptions of Bollywood are positive and negative. On some dimensions, Indian and US perceptions differ sharply from each other; on other dimensions, a few similarities become apparent. Most studies on Bollywood have looked at the cultural changes brought forth by Bollywood (for example, Gokulsing and Dissanayake 2004), its global impact (for example, Dudrah 2007), its implications for Indian Diasporic communities (for example, Kao and Do Rozario 2008) and its depictions


India Quarterly 67(1) 65–77

© 2011 Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA)

SAGE Publications Los Angeles, London,

New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC

DOI: 10.1177/097492841006700105

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66 Jonathan Matusitz and Pam Payano

of minorities in India (for example, Hirji 2008). However, the authors of this analysis believe that it is necessary to compare the perceptions of Bollywood from two global market players: America and India. While the Bollywood phenomenon has permeated many cultures worldwide, these cultures still differ in the way they perceive this rising Indian movie industry. Not only does this analysis serve to demonstrate many lessons in cross-cultural understanding but also corroborates the fact that Bollywood embodies an emerging socio-economic current of globalisation. It is one of the largest movie industries in the world, producing about 1,000 movies a year, and it has heavily influenced Hollywood and other Western movie markets.

This analysis begins with a description of Bollywood, its origins, its dynamics and how it has developed over the years. The authors proceed to describe Bollywood from a globalisation perspective. As such, three perspectives are offered: (a) a global economy perspective, (b) a global technology per- spective and (c) a glocalisation perspective. What comes subsequently is the heart of this analysis: Indian and US perceptions of Bollywood—which are explained in two separate sections. This analysis ends with a discussion that also offers suggestions for future research.

Description of Bollywood

Bollywood is an Indian movie industry based in Mumbai, a city symbolising urban cosmopolitanism, similar to Washington, DC, and New York City in the US (Jackson 2004). Bollywood could be, more accurately, called Mollywood, as Bombay is now called Mumbai (Reed 2008). Bollywood is the cultural paradigm of modern India (Mishra 2009a). It became a catchphrase in 2002 during London’s ‘Indian summer’. Its appearance of kitsch, song and dance, and melodrama was well suited to market exhibitions, shops and even the art of cinema itself (Dwyer 2006). By and large, a typical Bollywood movie lasts for two-and-a-half hours, slowly unrolling storylines of epic proportions, usually incorporating the break-up and make-up of extended families (Mehta and Pandharipande 2010). Film directors like to use six to eight songs and complex choreography, in which the leading characters themselves participate, to under- score the story’s emotional high points (Bouman et al. 2010; Kao and Do Rozario 2008; Mooij 2006).

Bollywood was born at the same time as Indian cinema itself, with D.G. Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra in 1913 (Mishra 2009a). By the 1930s, Bollywood had already built several studios which, 10 years later, had produced approximately two-thirds of Bollywood’s 150–200 annual films (Barnouw and Krishnaswamy 1963; Lorenzen 2009). In the 1990s, certain Bollywood production houses became asso- ciated with exclusive styles: the great budget romance shot in exotic locations with high-profile stars (Dwyer 2006). The Indian film industry, once run by mom-and-pop stores releasing one or two films annually, has evolved into larger, stronger players producing a large series of movies (Bellman and Misquitta 2009; Dudrah 2007). Bollywood has perpetuated a musical tradition that is very much alive today (Kalinak 2010). Generally speaking, Bollywood movies tend to be musicals. Their long production numbers are compared with the Busby Berkeley extravaganzas of the 1930s, in the same way that those numbers rival with MTV’s extensively produced music videos (Kao and Do Rozario 2008).

In a similar vein, Bollywood’s production and content are influenced by other cultures and religions, such as Islam (Hirji 2008). Although the language used in Indian movies is a mixture of Hindi and Urdu (spoken by a little more than 50 per cent of India’s population), Bollywood’s presence has been so

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profound and its impact on India and the Indian Diaspora so far-reaching that it is now viewed as more than just another brand of Indian popular cinema to be compared to creative Indian regional cinemas— for example, the Tamil and the Telegu (Mishra 2009a). With the introduction of sound films, Hollywood film imports to India and the home market separated along language divisions, the biggest market segment is the Hindi movie market—a language spoken in northern India and parts of Pakistan (Lorenzen 2009).

Today, Bollywood is ranked as the biggest movie industry worldwide, with respect to the number of employees and films produced, though not of its finances (Dwyer 2006). With roughly 3.6 billion tickets sold across the globe in 2001 (in comparison with Hollywood’s 2.6 billion), Bollywood is an increasingly growing and prolific cultural cluster (Kripalani and Grover 2002; Lorenzen 2009). Bollywood produces the highest number of films in the world, averaging 1,000 features annually. In 2005 alone, it produced 1,041 films (the US makes about 50 per cent that number, France barely 25 per cent). Additionally, while Hollywood has cut swathes through national cinemas worldwide, dominating almost 90 per cent of their national markets, India is arguably the only nation on Earth in which Hollywood is barely 3.5 per cent of the national market (Shedde 2006). Of equal relevance is the fact that Indian incomes have been rising, owing to an annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth of almost 9 per cent. The income gains have boosted receipts from the Indian film industry at an average portion of over 1 per cent a year. This constitutes a vigorous growth, compared with the US where yearly revenue from Hollywood has been increasing at less than 5 per cent (Bellman and Engineer 2008).

A Globalisation Perspective

Globalisation refers to the process by which local and national economies, societies and cultures become fused via a global network of communication, transportation, business and the spread of technology (Featherstone 1990, 1991; Friedman 1990; Robertson 1991, 1992). This section describes Bollywood’s role in globalisation from three perspectives: (a) a global economy perspective, (b) a global technology perspective and (c) a glocalisation perspective.

A Global Economy Perspective

The liberalisation of the Indian economy has changed Indian culture in a way never witnessed before. It is thanks to Bollywood that entertainment has become India’s second-largest growth sector. In fact, India is now a key global player in the flourishing global entertainment domain (Lorenzen and Täube 2008). In this period of economic liberalisation, the new India envisioned through Bollywood films relies greatly on discourses of corporate know-how and a collection of images that embody India’s successful entry into globalisation (Sen 2010). This new-fangled Bollywoodian and Indian stardom must be com- prehended within a larger global political framework. The emergence of Bollywood into the global ‘political economy’ context was already noticeable in the 1990s, when economic liberalisation became a cultural essential that could help revamp the national economy (Sen 2010).

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For Lorenzen and Mudambi (2010), Bollywood has been connected to the global economy in two manners. First is ‘inward connectivity’, a type of connection by which Bollywood has gained a massive Indian Diasporic audience—10 million strong—in the US, the UK, Canada, the Middle East and Australasia. Non-resident Indians (NRIs) in these nations are increasingly participating in the consumption of Bollywood films online, satellite TV and DVD. Most of them act as ‘lead users’, feeding knowledge on international trends and styles to Bollywood movie directors and producers (von Hippel 2005). NRIs also put in financial investments in Bollywood productions or provide talent into the cluster by pursuing careers in Mumbai. Second is ‘outward connectivity’, a type of connection whereby Bollywood pro- ductions shoot ‘on-location’ all over the world. Today, Bollywood companies own over 250 cinemas across North America and significant shares of a number of Hollywood production companies. This connectivity is to be taken into consideration because Bollywood’s biggest rival, Hollywood, has had a difficult time investing in the Indian entertainment market (Lorenzen and Mudambi 2010).

A Global Technology Perspective

Deeply influenced by Hollywood’s visual effects (VFX) and other digital techniques, the Bollywood market for digital cinema has advanced quickly (Culkin 2008). Thanks to the globalisation of certain technical tools in film-making, the international community has come across Bollywood’s plethora of animation and visual effects (VFX) talent (Dohrmann 2009). With the embrace of visual techniques (for example, computer-generated imagery and music videos), the content of Bollywood has become incor- porated within global processes (Lorenzen and Mudambi 2010). As digital post-production technologies are mixed with bigger commercial film industries worldwide, and special effects have moved from being just a standard visual marker of sci-fi films (McQuire 1999), Bollywood special effects studios are shov- ing for higher position in the globalisation of movie-making (Govil 2005).

In early 2008, Rhythm & Hues, a Bollywoodian movie production company, won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects for the film The Golden Compass. Rhythm & Hues allegedly took part in every step of the production process and provided about a third of the whole work done by the parent company in the US (Prasad 2009). A year later, Slumdog Millionaire won multiple Oscars, among which Oscars for Best Sound Mixing and Best Cinematography. The comic films Golmaal and Golmaal Returns were doctored and improved with visual effects (VFX) thanks to Bollywoodian digital skills at the Mumbai-based Pixion Studios. To be more precise, more than 800 VFX shots were used in the films, which equals to roughly 25 minutes in the entire films (Sharma 2009). These examples clearly demonstrate that Bollywood has benefited from the globalisation of technical tools in the movie industry.

In the domain of animated films, from 2007 to 2009, Bollywood released numerous Hindi movies with special effects and animation, such as Drona, Taare Zameen Par, Jodha Akbar and Love Story 2050. According to a Nasscom report, the Indian animation industry was worth US$460 million in 2008 and is predicted to increase to a compound annual growth rate of 27 per cent—worth US$1.16 billion—by 2012 (Prasad 2009). A Bollywood animated film, Roadside Romeo, was nominated by the Visual Effects Society in the Outstanding Animation in an Animated Motion Picture category, along with giant Hollywood-animated films such as Kung Fu Panda and Wall-e (Dohrmann 2009).

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A Glocalisation Perspective

The term ‘glocalisation’ is a combination of ‘globalisation’ and ‘localisation’ (Robertson 1994). It refers to the interface of the global and the local (Andrews and Ritzer 2007; de Nuve 2007; Swyngedouw 1997), the conflation of cultural homogenisation and heterogenisation (Eric 2007) and the hybridity of both universalising and particularising trends (Robertson 1994). While globalisation, in and of itself, emphasises the universality of business or cultural processes globally, glocalisation highlights the import- ance of particularism of an international product, idea or service.

Communication scholar Marwan Kraidy has examined glocalisation in great lengths. According to Kraidy (2001), glocalisation represents innovative cultural hybrids and variations of norms and prac- tices to cater to local preferences and tastes (Kraidy 2002). For example, glocalisation allows the McDonald’s model to simultaneously co-opt and cater to local expectations in over 120 countries. While McDonald’s keeps its golden arches and red colour intact in virtually all nations it penetrates, it also shows signs of cultural adaptation and location-friendliness. As such, the McDonald’s restaurants in Brazil arrange ‘happy hours’ with salsa bands. McDonald’s in New Zealand sell kiwi burgers. They sell McFalafels in Egypt (Matusitz and Leanza 2009).

Glocalisation also applies to Bollywood. Recently, Bollywood acquired colossal Hollywood shares. The 2009 purchase of US Dreamworks heralds a phase in which Bollywood’s connectivity to glocalisation allows the Indian behemoth to co-produce Hollywood films, or even develop movies, that merge the styles of the world’s two largest film industries to new local products (Lorenzen and Mudambi 2010). A case in point is the movie Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (K3G), as explained in the next paragraph. While the Bollywood industry is now prepared to produce movies appealing to a broad-based audience (or multiple audiences worldwide), it has also dabbled into the glocalisation of movies, catering to audi- ences based on their cultures and locations. A good example is Bollywood’s recent product that consists of the skills, trend and style inputs emerging from the Diaspora—all of which helped Bollywood modify the masala (mixed-genre) formula to generate a product that is more exportable across the world (ibid.).

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (K3G), a Bollywood film released in 2001, is a complex love story à la ‘Desperate Housewives’ and was made specifically for Indian Diasporic audiences. The movie is about the life of young Rahul who returns to India from overseas and falls in love with a poor girl. Rahul’s father opposes this idea and sets him up with another girl. Subsequent events lead to a major split in the family—as one would precisely see in ‘Desperate Housewives’. K3G’s appeal to the Diasporic viewers is due, in part, to the modifications and divergences from traditional Bollywoodian cinema. In the past, Indian movies would depict expatriate Indians in a positive light by positioning them into the fold of a ‘great Indian family’. K3G’s message is different: it expresses daily struggles over being Indian in the US and projects an image of cultural citizenship associated with India’s entry into the global market (Punathambekar 2005). In this regard, K3G articulates the very fact that there is no global consensus as to what ‘Indianness’ means—rather, ‘Indianness’ in the US is different from that in India. Therefore, the K3G producers had to glocalise ‘Indianness’. In an attempt to capture the interest of Diasporic audiences, NRI characters now emerge in Bollywood films as heroic and unadulterated. The narrative of some Bollywoodian films has shifted from portraying the West as an impure and corrupting place to describing a specific location inhabited by Indian immigrants—whose lives and future are changing (Desai 2005).

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Indian Perceptions of Bollywood

A large number of Indian directors find the term ‘Bollywood’ belittling. This is mostly based on the fact that, unlike Hollywood’s definition of musicals which were introduced as an offset of the Great Depression in 1929, Indian musicals stem from the traditional culture and developed long before Hollywood’s time (Shedde 2006). Although the term is regarded as derogatory by many in the Indian film industry, it has become a household name (Dwyer 2006).

Bollywood is an essential component of the Indian media that the Diaspora utilises to create a feeling of shared camaraderie, thus becoming a global cinema rather than the just national (Kao and Do Rozario 2008). Indian desire for re-inventing its national identity into a contemporary figure correlates with the remarkable extravagance surrounding Bollywood. The phenomenon has captured the hearts of fantasy aficionados within a new global horizon (Sarkar 2008). Bollywood cinema creates a mental representation of the imagined Indian aura, often portrayed through familial and romantic relationships that follow similar patterns.

However, India is rarely perceived as a blend of diverse cultures; instead, it is viewed as a prevailing culture of its own that is rampant in the Hindi-speaking belt (Hirji 2008). The strongly respected religious and cultural values are considered a primary reason that explains Bollywood’s popularity within India and throughout the Diaspora (ibid.). Bollywood is ‘singing in the rain’. As kissing in public is forbidden in Hindu culture, actors and actresses will not kiss in Bollywood movies. Instead, it will be an infatuated couple singing in the rain. Their eyes will lock, their lips will graze each other, and they will turn away from each other and start singing (Avery-Merfeld 2009).

In the Bollywoodian context, the tendency is not restricted to male actors. Many recent movies depict their stylish heroines drinking alcohol in order to become accepted into the chic and alluring society. Other women consume alcohol to express rebellion and gender equality. Most of these movies are classi- fied by the Indian Censor Board as appropriate for all age groups (Ray and Chugh 2008). Bollywood also creates reality-based films portraying the devastating effects of drinking—that is, domestic violence, interpersonal clashes and unemployment. As a result, educated audiences (including youth) can dis- tinguish between the intense lifestyle promoted by drinking and the negative consequences (as seen in movies). The objective may be that such messages decrease alcohol consumption by representing the negative effects of alcohol consumption (ibid.).

Similar to North American and European media styles, Bollywood does allude to several of the com- mon stereotypes (for example, terrorism and extremism). However, the complex history of India and its peoples signifies that Indian movies may construct a different environment for producing stories about Muslim characters. Movies attempting to look at Islam through a perspective of global terrorism and Islamist radicalism have hurt Muslims everywhere as much as they have helped them (Hirji 2008). While some movies successfully try to get rid of the common stereotypes, others make a commendable attempt to encourage multicultural harmony. Nevertheless, in general, ideology either permeates many recent films or provides an apolitical, dehistoricised portrayal that disregards important facts. Neither approach is beneficial to the viewers. Bollywood began to promote a protectionist movement found throughout India. Seeking to shelter Hindu values amid a cultural invasion stemming from all over the globe, Bollywood has lifted up Hinduism to its cult-like position and is now at the centre of most films (ibid.).

Indian Bollywood fans create a shared connectivity and are also represented in movies through the anticipated desires of Indians (Kao and Do Rozario 2008). Some of those Bollywood fans trust that they

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can teach Hollywood how to make movies (Timmons 2008). They even believe that they do not have to turn to the West for a tutorial on heroes or pop culture (Bellman and Schuker 2008). Bollywood is not simply an imitation of Hollywood. Rather, Hollywood does not need to be on this pedestal where other cultures and their entertainment are viewed as inferior. Through its panoramic observation of the all- around nature of Bollywood cinema—from production, to the viewers, to its broader popular culture— the volume underlines the efficacy of sociology as a qualitative analysis of certain characteristics of culture and society, as well as its potential to enlighten cinemas and its accepted cultures (Thakur 2008).

While Western cinema has taught us to expect the allusion of real life by incorporating storylines written in common dialect and delivery, Bollywood is often interjected by song and choreographed dance—definitely not real life (Hassam 2007). The dream world is not necessarily about the movie genres. Rather, it is about the noticeable difference between the movie content and the lives of the viewers. The detachment that these audience experience for the dream world is further heightened by the disparity between their perception of the Diaspora and the Diaspora they see played out on the screen. This is not at all to be generalised as Indians being apathetic. On the contrary, it further exemplifies the weak connection they have with the Bollywood representation of the Diaspora (Rao 2002).

The globalisation of Bollywood movies via the creation of a universally wealthy and consumption- oriented dream world alienates the native audience from these movies because of the large discrepancy between them. The discomfort that they feel when they view a Bollywood film is merely a reason for their detachment. Any social message that Bollywood is trying to convey to the Indian nation has been lost in its quest to surpass Hollywood (ibid.). As Bollywood movies attempt to relate to the Diasporic audience, while simultaneously focusing on the large consumer amount in urban and metropolitan areas, they are forgetting about the economically and culturally marginalised audiences. Bollywood acknow- ledges that its audience is usually the upper middle class and urban area whose tastes, standards, desires and expenditures are manifested and revitalised by these movies. Consequently, the rural- and lower- middle class society is lost and detached from the pictures and fantasies of Bollywood, thus decreasing the chances that they would ever enjoy them to the degree that the urban world does (ibid.).

All this attention has thrown Bollywood in chaos. Producers question Western perceptions and are unsure if the West accepts the songs of Bollywood or if it has become the laughing stock of the enter- tainment world (Shedde 2006). Recently, Bollywood movies have become smoother, full of a variety of camera angles and subtle changes made in editing. While the technical liveliness has always been commendable, it has reached a point in which it is beginning to feel like its own cliché (Saltz 2008). Similar to other Diasporas, rather than actually returning to the homeland, Bollywood depicts the feeling of missing the homeland by incorporating native products and symbolic acts or references, thus sharing the Indian home market’s eagerness for Bollywood products. Lastly, Bollywood movies are tongue-in- cheek by nature, with many elements that draw authenticity. To them, if the acting appears as overdramatic or over the top, then it is still completely acceptable because this is what is expected of Bollywood (Avery-Merfeld 2009).

US Perceptions of Bollywood

The Bollywood industry has enjoyed a distinct growth in revenue in the US market. It is particularly popular in large cities such as Chicago and New York (Wadhwani 2006). Across America, Bollywood is

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being consumed just as much as Hollywood and Western movies are. Not only are video rentals from ethnic stores growing in numbers; occasional showings in second-rate—and often derelict—theatres are also decreasing (Brosius 2005; Dudrah 2007). Today, Bollywood movies have become so mainstream in the US that Americans perceive the ‘Bollywood effect’ as a virtual form of tourism in which the public can feel the Indian culture through blockbusters like Slumdog Millionaire (Hanks 2010). Winning eight Academy Awards and grossing more than $100 million in revenue, Slumdog Millionaire is being acknowledged as bridging the cultural gap between key elements of Indian pop culture (for example, poverty, survival, love and triumph) and the inclusion of Western elements, thus fusing Western and Indian audiences (Lakshman 2009).

A typical US perception of Bollywood is that of a movie genre combining a multihued, exotic and escapist character of ‘Indianness’ (Kao and Do Rozario 2008). Generally speaking, ‘Indianness’ refers to both (a) the culture of the Indian Diaspora in the US and worldwide and (b) the cultural nature of daily activities and concerns of the majority of Asian Indians (Bhatia 2007). With over 2,500,000 Indian Americans living in the US in 2007 (US Census Bureau 2007), America increasingly embodies the nation of upwardly mobile ‘Indianness’. This demonstrates that globalisation is not a unilateral US- based global consumption. Rather, consumption is now globally diverse, affecting America too, as demonstrated by the success of Slumdog Millionaire.

Bollywood has absorbed US audiences in a process of re-imagining the concept of ‘Indianness’. For instance, while past Bollywood depictions of America were that of villains who needed to be saved from US corruption, today an emerging Bollywood movie character has been the Indian aristocrat (Kao and Do Rozario 2008). This re-imagining process has a specific resonance for US audiences which are, like any audience, members of an ‘imagined community’ (Anderson 1991). Through shared cultural practices and media, they establish a new fan base of a movie genre (Kao and Do Rozario 2008). In the same way that the Hollywood sci-fi movie genre, through such classics as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, has witnessed the emergence of shared cultural practices and media (for example, there is a large, annual Star Wars convention for fans), there is a growing Bollywood imagined community among US Americans—for example, through various Bollywood circles and clubs for avid fans (Mehta and Pandharipande 2010).

A current perception of Bollywood’s corporate culture and work practices is that ‘professionalism’ is the mantra on the movie set. The Bollywood industry has benefited from a string of highly motivated producers and celebrities showing distinguished professionalism (Sarkar 2008). The notion of pro- fessionalism is not limited to the Bollywood atmosphere on the movie set. In conjunction with expertise in information technology, a ‘professional’ approach and way of thinking are viewed by US corporate magnates as one of the most successful developmental features for a globalising India. Not surprisingly, the Bollywoodian notion of ‘professionalism’ measures up to US professional standards of corporate culture. Nevertheless, if both America and India set a trend for what professionalism should be, then it will be much easier to import it worldwide (ibid.).

Of course, Bollywood is not perceived favourably by all Americans. To begin, a certain number of US detractors contend that Bollywood needs to further adjust to Hollywood norms (Dwyer 2006). More precisely, Bollywood needs to develop a film model that should identify with US audiences more. For example, those detractors note that the typical Bollywoodian narrow-minded formula of happy- ending does not relate well to US culture (Lakshman 2009). Other US critics view Bollywood films not

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as ‘purely musicals’ (as most Bollywood fans think). Rather, they view those films as flashy, ‘music- oriented’ films (Wadhwani 2006), and as a multi-layered, lengthy and voluminous genre which has developed from past similarly coded literary texts (Mishra 2009b).

In line with these contentions, Bollywood movies are condemned for improperly tackling problems related to India’s Muslim minority. As it was mentioned in the previous section on Indian perceptions of Bollywood, the Mumbai movie industry alludes to several of the common stereotypes of Muslims (for example, as being terrorists and extremists) and, even when Islam is depicted in an American context, negative perceptions of the Bollywoodian portrayal of Muslims continue to resonate (Saltz 2009). There is some acknowledgement that Muslim characters can be talented and interesting. However, the numerous manners by which Bollywood movies deal with the challenge of Islam indicate that it is difficult for the US audience to consider Bollywood cinema a venue in which Islam is fully understood or suitably described (Hirji 2008).

Another major disparagement of Bollywood has been its alleged cloning of Hollywood. In this con- text, cloning means two things. On the one hand, it is a view that Bollywood films are frequently lifting from Western movies (Chhabra 2005). A case in point is Bollywood’s strong inspiration from Western musical television (for example, MTV). This is particularly evident in the way Bollywood replicates Western techniques such as pace, camera angles, dance sequences and music of 1990s and 2000s films. An example of such cloning is in Mani Ratnam’s Bombay that was released in 1995 (Gokulsing and Dissanayake 2004). On the other hand, cloning has come to mean plagiarism. Bollywood producers have been accused of transposing entire popular Hollywood movies in an Indian context. Although Indian screenwriters initially produce original scripts, these are often rejected—owing to financial uncertainty over the success of the film (Shedde 2003). As a result, screenwriters turn Hollywood-style and are cri- ticised for their lack of creativity (Banerjee 2003).

It is important to note, however, that since the 2000s, Bollywood has influenced musicals in the Western world and in the US. In fact, it has played a pivotal role in the revitalisation of the American musical film genre. Baz Luhrmann affirmed that his musical Moulin Rouge! was heavily inspired by Bollywood musicals (Cubitt 2005). American audiences were impressed with Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (K3G), which cracked the Top 10 in the US box office. For numerous American viewers, K3G epitomises a new phase in the Bollywood film industry. The latter portrays the Indian Diaspora as an ethnic community influenced by the geographic location in which each Indian cluster enters (Punathambekar 2005). US perceptions are also positive vis-à-vis Bollywood’s recent successful break- throughs in the domains of animation and visual effects (VFX)—as seen in the animated film Roadside Romeo (Dohrmann 2009).

Discussion and Future Directions

What this analysis has demonstrated is that many lessons in cross-cultural understanding can be drawn. It may be true that the Bollywood cinema genre has pervaded many cultures worldwide, but these cul- tures still differ in the way they perceive this Indian movie industry. As we have seen, Indian percep- tions of Bollywood are both negative and positive. While their concept of Bollywood is perceived as demeaning, stereotyping of the Muslim culture and alienating economically and culturally marginalised

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audiences, it is also recognised as treasuring India’s national identity, portrayal of women in some circles (for example, alcoholics attempting to become accepted into the chic and alluring society), Hindi traditional lifestyles and lighthearted humour.

With respect to US perceptions of Bollywood, they are also both positive and negative—though they differ from those of Indians. On the one hand, the ‘Bollywood effect’ is perceived as a virtual form of tourism, a fusion of Western and Indian audiences, a movie genre portraying ‘Indianness’ and a movie corporate culture that favours professionalism. On the other hand, Bollywood is also perceived as a movie industry that does not sufficiently relate to US audiences, that produces flashy, ‘music-oriented’ films, that fails to fully understand Islam or suitably describe it and that clones Hollywood. In this regard, it both lifts ideas from Western movies and plagiarises them. Similarities emerge from both Indian and US perceptions. For example, both acknowledge the rising of Bollywood’s popularity world- wide, particularly in America. Both also believe that Muslims are not accurately portrayed in Bollywood movies.

Regardless of whether perceptions of Bollywood are positive or negative, the Bollywood phenomenon, with its drive to become world-class professional, its increasingly popular music-and-dance sequences and its successful portrayal of ‘Indianness’, will lie at the core of a more inclusive globalisation. Indeed, Bollywood embodies the new socio-economic currents of globalisation. Without a doubt, Bollywood’s rapid growth corresponds to the rise of India’s global labour market—and, by the same token, the rise of new Indian Diasporas. Taken altogether, this creates a great advantage for India to export itself to the most attractive markets in the world.

From this vantage point, globalisation does not automatically mean ‘Westernization of culture’. Taking a few exceptions aside, such as the US perception that Bollywood is becoming highly professional in an American way, Bollywood produces a unique formula of global success that reaches over social, cultural and ethnic divides. Although Hollywood has undoubtedly influenced most cultures worldwide (Miller et al. 2001), Bollywood has, over the past few decades, added valuable elements to its formula in order to make them adapt to global publics. Bollywood is creating a formula that is a hybrid cluster. For example, another US perception is that Bollywood is inspired by elements of Western popular culture, such as MTV. By mixing elements from well-established national cultures, it comes to no surprise that Bollywood appeals to global audiences (Canclini 1995; Pieterse 1995; Werbner and Modood 1997).

For future research, it might prove interesting to continue examining the perceptions of Bollywood, not only of key players of globalisation but also of economically and culturally marginalised audiences. With respect to the latter, scholars should investigate how grassroots cultures or largely ignored popu- lations feel about a possible Bollywoodian homogenising influence in the world. In the realm of enter- tainment, could the rapid growth of Bollywood’s popularity compel local cultures into adopting Bollywood’s model, practices and values? Or will Hollywood one day become the Bollywood of the West? In a similar fashion, it would be useful for scholars to analyse the perceptions of Bollywood by the Indian Diaspora worldwide, or do a comparative analysis between perceptions of Indian Americans and those of Indians scattered around the globe.

It is the authors’ hope that this analysis has helped establish a scholarly cross-cultural understanding of perceptions of Bollywood. The authors’ aim was also to enlighten readers who are interested in globalisation studies, cultural studies, popular culture and international communication. The Bollywood

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Jonathan Matusitz is Assistant Professor, Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida.

Pam Payano is Research Assistant, Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida.

at SUNY BINGHAMTON on December 2, 2016iqq.sagepub.comDownloaded from

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<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> >> >> setdistillerparams << /HWResolution [2400 2400] /PageSize [612.000 792.000] >> setpagedevice