Some even argue that the films that are being produced nowadays do not have a plot (Rao, 2007). A clear example that illustrates the importance of commercialization through the film industry is releasing song before the movie itself is released. As previously mentioned, songs are crucial in a Bollywood film. However, it has come to a point where the songs itself are being more important than the film. By releasing the songs earlier, the film industry earns more revenue from the song being heard. It is also believed that if people like the songs of the film, they will enjoy the whole movie itself.
Another example which promotes the idea of materialism is commercials that have famous celebrities advertising many products. By having famous actors and actresses promoting materialistic objects, it allows the audience to believe that they need to buy this product to be just like the actor or actress. Bollywood has become modernized and it is now used as a means for “consumption and commercialization” (Rao, 2007) rather than entertainment. One of the greatest impacts Bollywood has had over India is the loss of tradition and culture.
By watching a Bollywood film, the audience should be able to learn about Indian people and culture. The audience should be able to recognize important values and the way of living which makes Indian culture different from another culture. Yet, through the years the industry has become westernized and many actors are portrayed as though they are from a foreign country (Jha & Rai, 2011). In many recent films, the audience is only able to recognize Indian heritage through the language being spoken. Many films do not show the rural life of the citizens living India (Jha & Rai, 2011).
One of the biggest changes that have occurred over the years is the amount of skin that females show in films. One of the aspects of Indian culture is the sacredness of a woman’s body. Although India as a country is advancing and developing, many Indian women still continue to wear traditional clothing like a sari, which is a form of garment that is draped over the body. Traditional Indian folk believe it indecent and disrespectful for women to show a great amount of skin to the public.
It is also a dishonor to the family and the woman herself. The concept of marriage is also now portrayed differently. In several films, the actors go against Indian tradition by being sexually active before marriage (Lahiri-Roy, R, 2010). This is unimaginable for traditional Indian people since virginity and purity is of great value to Indian culture (Daiya, 2011). Dating is also becoming more and more common in films.
Many of these changes that have taken place in film, have also taken place in India today. More woman have begun to work in India and having to wear a sari every day is just not practical since it is time consuming. Saris are now perceived to be Indian clothing that it only worn for special occasions in the city. Yet, most women in the rural areas of India continue to wear a sari every day. Although India is advancing as a country, it is losing its tradition and culture by becoming more westernized. Film also takes part in the loss of culture since many of the cultural changes are positively represented in film.
To many Indian civilians, Bollywood films have become unrealistic and unrelatable. A study was conducted in India in which the researcher interviewed individuals from the age of 22 to 39 years old to understand the response of the audience to the transformation of Hindi films (Rao, 2007). During the interview, the participants criticize the representation of life as some form of alternate reality, in which the characters are always happy in the end. However, Bollywood films actively choose to neglect the realistic aspect in which the majority of Indians are poor and live in slums. Instead, they choose to portray life being filled with drama but in the end, there is always a happy ending.
An issue that the individuals also criticize the portrayal of Non Resident Indians —NRI— and how they are represented in films. Many films represent the NRI’s as rich and modernized and have a good job. However, an example given by one of the participants is the reality of NRI’s. During the time in which the author was interviewing the individual, her sister was working at the New Jersey Airport as a janitor, which demonstrates the reality of the NRI’s (Rao, 2007). Many of these individuals feel as though they cannot relate to these films anymore and they also compare the films that are now being released to those made in 1950’s.
They point out that during the 1950’s, directors such as Raj Kapoor who is known for making realistic films, would actually represent India in all its glory (Rao, 2007). Thus, Bollywood films have become unrealistic and unrelatable to a vast majority of Indians since these films to do not portray a realistic aspect of India. A result of the modernization of Bollywood would be the sexualization of women in songs. As previously discussed, songs and dance are crucial for a Bollywood film to be successful at the box office.
Yet, the addition of item songs in films are progressively growing (Mohanty, 2010). An item song –also known as item number- is a song which has nothing to do with the plot of the film. It basically showcases a woman, sometimes a man, in revealing clothing, while dancing to a song for the pleasure of the male or female audience. The woman will dance in a seductive and sexual manner to please the audience and through this, she is being sexualized. She is being exploited by the film industry to and is being subjected to sexual objectification.
Interestingly, the term item is actually Mumbai slang for a sexy female (Mohanty, 2010). In these item songs, many women are willingly being portrayed as sexual objects who are only present for a man’s needs. Through a psychological analysis one may recognize that the women may be having mental issues (Bhugra, 2005). Alfred Adler’s Inferiority Complex theory can be used to answer why these females are approving of being portrayed in a sexual manner. Through Adler’s perspective, women have low self-esteem and self-worth since they have always been constantly discouraged to feel equal to a man. This leads to the feeling of inferiority to men.
Thus, through these item songs, woman will try to dominate men through seduction and manipulation. ConclusionThus, the purpose of this paper is to explore the arrival of film in India and how through time, the Bollywood industry has become modernized. The paper also demonstrates various factors that may have been a result of the modernization of the Bollywood industry. It is important to understand the significance of film since it reflects a society’s culture and it also used as a means to portray societal issues.
Through an economical approach, we learn that the film industry is profit-driven and their main goal is to maximize profit, and through an anthropological perspective, we learn that concepts such as cultural traditions and values are taken into account when the film industry is discussed. Therefore, through the years Bollywood has become westernized and this has had an impact on India. Works CitedMohanty, P. (2010). Bollywood item numbers: from Monica to Munni. In Pixelonomics.
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