Bollywood is the largest producer of movies in the entire world. It produces nearly three times as many movies a year as Hollywood and is growing every year. Like South Korea, it underwent a period of extreme Western influence but now it has taken ahold of its film industry and has created something quite unique and different when compared to Western movies. Also like South Korea, it developed partially in reaction to Western movies, influence and presence. Many Bollywood movies are anti-colonial in their message and show a form of resistance against Western culture ( Tyrrell 373, in L&B). Some characterize their style as a form of third cinema. Their movies have a style and formula that is very specific to Bollywood and representative of many of India’s cultural aspects and traditions.
The content as well as the style of Bollywood films are very unique, consisting of formulaic love stories, journeys to other lands and numerous song and dance numbers. Anthologist Brian Larkin has stated that this formula has been created so “audiences engage with Indian films as a means of establishing distance from the ideologically loaded presence of American film” (Larkin 336, in I&R). It also is not only popular within India, but in the wider Indian diaspora as well, creating a sense of nostalgia and identity for those away from home. Consumer culture in some cases is even defined by these films. One study has found popular fashion trends based off of clothing in Bollywood films. Other studies have looked at how male movie stars in Bollywood influence males in Indian culture. It is truly a force with incredible presence and influence over the Indian culture.
India and its diaspora is not the limit to its influence, however. It seems that recently Bollywood has been extending its reach to the American market. One such example is the Academy Award Winner, Slumdog Millionaire, a hybrid mix of a U.S. style and Indian cultural aspects. With Bollywood and other film industries such as in South Korea growing and influencing Hollywood movies, it is hard to predict the future of global cinema. It is also difficult to trace who is now influencing one another as the speed of these interactions has increased so much in the last few years.
Hollywood is still the producer of the world’s most well known movies but as foreign markets create films that connect more specifically to their countries and their diaspora populations, the U.S. may soon find itself losing money and influence. It may also discover that it does not have the same level of influence over other film industries as it used to have. As more and more directors, producers and actors come from other countries and cinematic formulas around the world become more hybrid and universal, the reign of pure American influence through film may come to an end.