Bollywood Abroad: South Asian Diasporic Cosmopolitanism and Indian Cinema by Jigna Desai is an essay which has as its motive the need to demonstrate the importance of cinema in forming a Diaspora (South Asian) in Britain and America (Desai, 2006). Although this is the case, the film takes a feministic approach. Desai’s analysis is based on aspects such as circulation, production and reception of films from the Diaspora from which Desai theorizes sexual, gender and the racial mechanisms through which the Diaspora was formed. In essence, Desai’s research on how Bollywood was globalized covers the rise of Bollywood dating back to India’s economic liberalization. In a major way, this essay is relevant to the movie ‘Devdas’ by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. This Movie of Hindi version is about Devdas, a graduate who went back home after his studies abroad (London), with the aim of marrying Paro, his childhood sweetheart (Chattopadhyay, n.d). His family’s decision to object the marriage prompts him to seek solace in alcohol, eventually resulting in emotional deterioration.
Devdas is an example of how Bollywood is gaining international recognition in the film industry. In Europe and Northern America, the presence of Bollywood has increased on a day to day basis. The widespread acceptance of Hollywood means that most producers would fancy having their films set out in a Bollywood manner. A good example of this is the historic moment when films such as Devdas were showcased and nominated to compete in the Oscar awards in London. Ever since, expectations have been rife that the Western and cosmopolitan audiences will cross over and appeal to Bollywood and its production.
In the essay, Desai explains what Diaspora in the films means. In so doing, she moves past textual analysis so as to understand the role of films in Diaspora. This entails analyzing the function, presence and influence that Bollywood has in the Diaspora. In addition to this, the essay puts major focus on the racial formations of the Asian Americans and their respective citizenship after the 9/11 attack in the United States o America (Desai, 2006).
Indian and South Asians films are not common in the West because of various reasons. In diasporic and Indian films, cinema plays a key role in facilitating creativity through power and pleasure. Indian films such as Devdas have gained recognition in the global scene because of the association they have to Hollywood, giving the actors a good chance to build a name for themselves. According to Desai, there are high hopes that Bollywood will sustain its impact in the film industry by producing hits to be ranked among the best in the world.
In addition to the above, Desai’s essay addresses the impact that Bollywood films have on dominant and diasporic cultural production. The pattern that the essay exposes on the consumption of Bollywood in the Diaspora explains how Indian cinemas have contributed to South Asian. Devdas is the perfect example of how liberalization in India sparked development of new genres of cinema which included Non-Resident Indian Films (Menon, 2008). Hindi films have, as a result, become very popular in the Diaspora because they have managed to change their themes to match the common themes in Western cinemas. In Devdas, for instance, the producer employs the theme of romance so as to attract attention from the Western audience. Without this, it would be hard to imagine that the film could get the major recognition it received. Through Desai’s essay, one gets to understand the relationship between Indian films and the western themes and production.
Chattopadhyay, S. (n.d.). Devdas.
Desai, J. (2006). New cosmopolitanisms South Asians in the US. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
Desai, J. (2006). Bollywood Abroad: South Asian Diasporic Cosmopolitanism and Indian Cinema. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
Menon, D. (2008). Structural analysis. Oxford: Alpha Science International.