If nothing operates in a vacuum, then surely Bollywood’s affect would span farther than just India and Hindi culture. While I applaud India’s firm nationalist stance when it comes to film and media, and am glad they were able to successfully avoid Western imperialist cultural cinema, where is their impact on us? Surely a corporation so big, big enough to not only rival Hollywood, but surpass it regarding so many films, means it has some kind of power. This cultural agency, not just preferring Indian-made films, but the social thought that is put into their productions, I think represents Tyrell’s Third Cinema Theory.
Bollywood does not just produce jolly films filled with silly musical dance numbers, it provokes social and cultural thought, pushes the boundaries about so-called “challenging” issues and demands the popular music and film of the day be a cultural and nationalistic human-centered focus. I would suggest that in America, the people with money create the movies, whereas in India, the people of the nation create the movies, or at least the content. People living in India may not care about Hollywood cinema and loud action movies because socially and culturally, it is simply not relevant.
I can remember growing up going to independent, often foreign films with my parents. These films stick out to me as being more down-to-earth, “artsy” films, filled with silences and uncomfortable pauses, the movies slowed down and actually gave the viewer time to think, to process what was going on. This is the biggest difference I think between Hollywood cinema and Bollywood. Bollywood musical scenes may be silly, but they speak to darker issues, and give the viewer time to process what the underlying metaphor is without the movie being a complete downer. I think Hollywood cinema and other American film corporations have something to learn from Bollywood. Not just the kinds of films they produce, but the content inside and where that content comes from.
Here are some clips from one of Bollywood’s most famous movie, 3 Idiots: This is a musical song
This is just a funny scene from the movie, try to note Bollywood differences