Culture

For those who have been living under a rock, or out of the sphere of anything related to media, chances are you have heard of Bollywood. No, I didn’t spell Hollywood wrong. Bollywood is an actual word, and it’s now officially defined in the Oxford English dictionary.

After years of attempting to compete against its western counterpart Hollywood, India’s Mumbai housed film industry can stand firm on the morals of its own achieved global success.

Deriving from its former British colonial city name of Bombay, Bollywood has amassed an international following, catapulting its reach of producing almost three times as many movies a year than Hollywood, and allowing to call itself the largest film industry in the world.

The Status

India has its own breed of mega stars who now have the global clout, fame, and a buzz to rival those from America. With its presence at almost all International Film Festivals, Bollywood celebrities are now in a league of their own.

They have massive social media followings, make lucrative endorsement deals with top global brands, and have cash earnings that set them in similar brackets as top Hollywood celebrities. Their reach is not only in India, but their reach abroad is growing as many are choosing to branch outside traditional roles within the Hindi film industry and gain further exposure in the west.

Priyanka Chopra, a former Miss World, is India’s latest global export who launched her foreign fame from Bollywood to crossover and become a recording artist to produce hit singles with Pitbull and Will. i. am. for NFL’s Thursday Night Football theme song. In addition, she has also become the first ethnic face of Guess, and landed a new ABC talent television show deal in Los Angeles where she is currently based. With a heavy media push, her team is attempting to introduce a stronger South Asian presence into the American media market. Among other global Bollywood stars with massive fame include Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Aamir Khan, Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Katarina Kaif, Akshay Kumar, and Kareena Kapoor.

The Reach

From Cape Town to Canberra, Rio De Janerio to Riyadh, the sheer appeal to audiences and demographics showcase how India’s Hindi film industry position now rivals Hollywood’s reach. The past 20 years have progressed the popularity of Hindi film, in turn allowing for Bollywood to become more of household name in several parts of the emerging world. In addition, the massively clean cut and conservative family approach of no nudity have allowed for its films to amass loyal fans not just in its diaspora communities, but throughout Africa, Latin America, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.

The Appeal

With its grand sets, exotic destinations, love stories, and iconic song and dance routines, many have dubbed the unique and drastically different format to western media part of its international success. Bollywood films have stayed close to traditional Indian values, but in recent times have become a creative playground to showcase a rising and rapidly westernizing population, home to 1.2+ billion people.

The Influence

With Bollywood paving the way for the western world to gain further exposure into Indian cultural values, art, and dialogues, the influence of it reach is massive. With its heavy hitting presence at every major international film festival – including Cannes – established Indian Industry award shows, and the trickling in of more Indian music, fashion, and media personalities into the daily lives of more westerners, it no longer remains a thriving industry.

Dubai Parks and Resorts is even developing the Emirate’s and world’s first Bollywood mega theme park project aimed at capturing the essence of Hindi cinema, covering a total of three million square feet. With a massive three phase development plan for construction in Dubai, the park will recreate for tourists and residents the extravagance and fantasy that is the world of Bollywood.

Have you seen any Bollywood films?

Image: Wikipedia

Culture

In a recent interview Oprah Winfrey spoke of when she realized that she could “use television as a service” to make the world a better place. Although the concept almost seems laughable since television can often be stigmatized, that does not mean the idea is untrue. The Oprah Winfrey Show show was famous for launching careers and inspiring people to be better. Is it really possible to change the world through television?

We first have to determine what it means to change the world. Is changing the world a contribution to the zeitgeist like Oprah’s Favorite Things? Is it if you learned something? (I learned how to check a pulse from a TV show.) The news informs masses everyday. Still, I feel that real change makes you really think.

We could find examples of these types of changes on television right now. Peter Norwalk, creator of the show How To Get Away With Murder, said that he wanted to normalize physical intimacy between men. His audience of millions is being exposed to gay characters which could force them to focus on this polarizing topic. It will not necessarily cause a universal change, however, because some will turn off the TV. Still, this awareness could spread and change the world however slightly.

If it is possible to change the world through television, we have to be careful. Last year, 111.5 million people watched the Super Bowl. The images they see can be extremely influential. Though the Super Bowl is an extreme example, there are still millions of people watching television all year. This means that millions of people are reached all at once. American shows air in other countries and shows from other countries like England and France are airing in the United States, giving us an entirely different viewpoint than what we are used to. We, the viewers, need to realize that we are getting messages from television, whether we want to or not. It’s up to us to figure out what we want to learn from them. Just because Aria is dating her teacher on Pretty Little Liars, doesn’t mean it is exemplary behavior. It is a plot point. We have to learn what values work for us.

So, I do believe that television can change the world. It just won’t necessarily change everyone all at once or in the same way. That means that the next time we are watching our favorite show, be it Scandal or those Law & Order reruns that are always on somewhere, we need to think about what we are getting from it. There is a chance we are just getting some quality entertainment. Yet, every experience has the potential to shape how we see the world. Television might just change the world after all.

Image: Flickr