The Bolly of Hollywood

The emergence of the Indian film industry of ‘Bollywood’ has no doubt become one of the cultural dominants of modern India. It’s reign has even secured them the title of the world’s largest film industry, exceeding it’s global competitor ‘Hollywood’ in terms of the number of films produced, number of tickets sold and amount of people employed. However, despite Hollywood’s own global success, we’re seeing a ‘contra-flow’, or a shift in direction of certain cultural influences. Westernized film industries are co-opting East Asian and Indian characteristics, leading to the hybridization or fusion of modern day film.

Classic films such as ‘Bride and Prejudice’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ are optimum examples of this theory as although they may be considered as the works of the Bollywood industry, they are in factproducts of American Hollywood and merely Bollywood influenced. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ has been said to be successful in bridging this

‘cultural gap’ as it incorporates ‘all of the Bollywood elements (poverty, survival, love and triumph) and having a small amount of songs, satisfying both Western and Indian audiences’ (Matusitz, 2011). Bose predicted that Indian films stood ‘the best chance of challenging Hollywood’s hegemony in the movie making world’ (Schaefer et al, 2010)

Even the 2009 ‘Avatar’ film, one the the highest grossing films of all time, shows traces of ‘ancient Hindu concepts’ infused with ‘Native-American themes’. This can be seen predominately through ‘theblue skin color of the Na’vi characters, the color traditionally used for depicting the religious avatars Rama and Krishna.’ (Jain, 2005).

As a result of the huge theatrical profits East Asian movies have generated for America, ‘Bollywoodization…. is prompting us to question whose economic interest actually is being served by the soft power of the Indian film industry and its cinematic contra-flows.’ (Schaefer et al 2010) and despite these similarities it is believed that ‘Hollywood is better off imitating, rather than trying to displace, Bollywood’ (Giridharadas, 2007)


– Image: Aijaz, N 2012, ‘Bollywood vs Hollywood’,, 25/08/2014,

Matusitz, J, Payano, P 2011,From Hollywood to Bollywood: An Analysis of the Globalization of Popular Culture”  International Communication Association, TBA, Boston, <PDF>, 22/08/2014,

Schaefer, D, Karan, K 2010, ‘Bollywood and Globalization: The Global Power of Popular Hindi Cinema’, Global Media and Communications, 25/08/2014,


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