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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bollywood in Boston

I was walking down a dirt road, wearing the new Shalwar and matching Bangles gotten specifically for the wedding I was on my way to attend. Caroline, my roommate and fellow foreigner, was talking to our friend Srinivas, while I walked with his wife. Their two small children were clinging to my arms and pulling at the ends of my long scarf as they played with the little trinkets that dangled from its edges. I was far away from the urban center of Hyderabad in the country side of Andra Pradesh, India. Most inhabitants, if not all, had no running water and the only vehicle around was a bus that came through once a day and the rare seven-seater. Despite how remote the location, as I walked into the village I noticed a young boy singing a song from the latest Bollywood hit.

India is home to the world’s largest film industry, producing almost 1,000 movies a year in numerous languages. The largest of these is Bollywood, which produces Hindi films and is centered in Mumbai (formerly Bombay.)

Bollywood is a vital part of Indian culture, acting as a portal into a shiny world full of color, romance, and melodrama. Where the impossible is suddenly possible and everyone breaks out into song and dance. Women can wear scanty outfits and arranged marriages are forsaken for true love.

Bollywood movies run much longer then their American counterparts, usually clocking in at about three and a half hours. They have a certain innocence that has long been lost in Hollywood films, with no love scenes and a kind of desire for the happily ever after ending. Bollywood movies appeal to a wide audience that reaches across class and religious lines. The songs, Bollywood movies are musicals, are almost like another character in the films. The music is released prior to the movie, almost like a teaser trailer. When the film comes out everyone can already sing along to all the songs.

Indian cinema has had a recent boost in America due the huge success of “Slumdog Millionaire.” Though not an actually Bollywood movie, having been made by British director Danny Boyle, it still celebrated the vibrancy and color of India and has peaked the interest of this rich culture. The film included Bollywood elements such as a dance number at the end and an uplifting story of an improbable but everlasting and true love that is only found in fantasies and fairy tales. There was drama, suspense, action, hardship, romance and comedy, which epitomizes the Masala film genre of Bollywood productions. The movie was tied together with a stunning musical score that incorporated traditional Indian music such as the sitar with more modern pieces and artists including M.I.A.

The phenomenon of Indian cinema is well known through out Asia and many other parts of the world but it has been relatively unnoticed by mainstream America. In recent years Bollywood, and Indian culture in general, has begun to garner more attention. Bollywood movies are the second largest earners at the American box office after Hollywood productions and you can even order Bollywood on Demand from Comcast. In Boston I see a new Indian Restaurant every time I go out and there are some movie theaters that screen Indian films. You can take Bhangra dance lessons or order a workout video to get a “Bollywood Booty.” So next time you plan on watching a movie it is well worth taking in a Bollywood film and immersing yourself in an exciting world of color, romance and fabulous dance numbers.