FA Project

Hollywood vs. Bollywood:

We have all heard of Hollywood and have dreamed to be a part of the glitz and glamour associated with it, but has the average person heard of Bollywood? Bollywood is not a real place, although people may wish it was, but rather one of India’s regional cinemas called the Mumbai (Bombay) based industry (Sturken and Cartwright 408). While it seems to be not as popular, in reality over 800 films are produced a year in this cinema palace and they have “huge budgets and lavish sets” comparable to Hollywood (408). Bollywood’s films are in fact globalized and their industry is thriving with no need to catch up to Hollywood any longer (409). The only part that may be “holding Bollywood back” is its wealth that it brings in. It is reported that “Indian cinema is the world’s largest film industry, in terms of the number of films produced and people employed, though not of its finances” (Matusitz and Payano 125). The Bollywood industry seems to be doing well as you can see in the number of films produced and the statistics behind it being the world’s largest industry. If all of this is the case, why is Bollywood not more widely known and how did it exactly cross borders and become a global industry?

            To understand Bollywood more, it is important to establish how the industry began and how it grew to be what it is today. Bollywood goes back in time all the way back to the early 1900’s, 1913 to be exact, and the early beginnings involved a famous film, Raja Harishchandra setting the stage for what would be the world’s largest film industry (125). In the 1930’s to the 1940’s Bollywood developed studios beginning to produce up to 200 films a year sweeping away the small mom and pop shops who would create one or two films a year (125). It was a big change and it was almost an evolution from where it all began. The evolution did not stop there, though. By the 1970’s Bollywood was hitting the map and became nicknamed “masala” because of how the films combined all different elements including romance, drama, comedy, and musical sequences filled with song and dance (125). It continued to spread and win over people’s hearts as the years went on. By the 1990’s, “big budget romance[s] shot in exotic locations with [the] top stars” was not something Bollywood did not uphold any longer (125). Bollywood even crossed over to America when a huge hit film, Slumdog Millionaire, hit the American market and became a film you definitely heard about regardless if you had seen it or not (127). If you still have not heard of this movie today, it is honestly very hard to believe. It won eight Oscar awards and it grossed over 100 million dollars at the box office making it a huge success and a wakeup call to Hollywood that there is another leading player taking the crown for film-making (127). Hollywood was impacted by this success and has even crossed and partnered because of how huge the success was from the film. Through this, Sylvester Stallone, a famous American actor, has had several cameo roles in Bollywood films (127). If anybody knows Hollywood, they are all about to be jumping on a trend and Bollywood just so happened to be that leading trend. 

            Looking deeper into Slumdog Millionaire, it is important to see how this film and other Bollywood films can relate to other countries, such as the United States, and how this film was globalized in the first place. It details three children who escape an orphanage that was absolutely terrible in Mumbai and how they each find a way afterwards, one landing a spot on a popular television show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, another who works for a crime boss, and the third who is stuck between both worlds (Duncan 312). From the content and subject matter, a question arises about how a film about Indian children in Mumbai can be relevant to Western viewers? Other viewers find likenesses to their own culture and watch it to relate to their lives and backgrounds. A few film critics mention the “disturbing exotic beauty” of the film or the “ghetto picaresque” in describing how they saw it (313). Although they do not know how it is to be those children or what it’s like the live in Mumbai, they relate to it by looking at it from the outside and determining what it means to them. No country us free from poverty, homelessness, and orphanages and although it may be different in each country, it still becomes relatable to an extent. This happens even further through other critics saying Slumdog has “Dickensian elements” comparing it to the works of a well-known western author, Charles Dickens (312). While it is somewhat easy to see how this film can be related to western culture or specifically American culture, it is even easier with other aspects of the plot. The biggest aspect to relate to other cultures and make this film easily globalized is the love story. It is known that “family romance [is] a staple of the popular film tradition of India” (315). With that being said, many major Hollywood films also focus on a love story making it super relatable to viewers of America and many other countries. Many of the major, top-ranking films have some extent of the love story involved in the plot. This is even so true that Slumdog Millionaire was noted as a “Cinderella story” making it easy to connect to American and western cultures (315). While this film may be from another country, it is simple to understand why it is relatable to the United States and other countries making it a globalized phenomenon. 

            While Hollywood seems to be the coined term that people know all too easy, Bollywood is absolutely accelerating quickly ahead of it. From producing more films than Hollywood and crossing borders to the United Stated through Slumdog Millionaire, Bollywood it absolutely making a name for itself. In summary, Bollywood grew from a few films a year to over 200 in a few short decades showing how hard the film industry works to produce films that get less attention to an overrated Hollywood. While also getting less attention, they also receive less income even though the sets are luxurious and just as expensive as Hollywood sets.  Bollywood is definitely still rising and dominating the film-industry regardless if the films it makes get enough recognition in comparison to Hollywood’s top praises.

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