Article: “An Understanding Between Bollywood and Hollywood?” (Morcom)

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“An Understanding Between Bollywood and Hollywood? The Meaning of Hollywood-Style Music in Hindi Films” – Anna Morcom

  • Introduction
    • Morcom will focus on coding practices of foreign music (mostly Western orchestral compositions) in the context of Hindi films, and the cultural consequences of such representations in Bollywood
  • Hollywood-Style Music in Hindi Films: Some Examples
    • ex) “Mother India” (1957) –> coda section reflects scene of heightened drama in the movie, w/ orchestra
    • ex) “Mughal-e-Azam (1960) –> shift from traditional sitar music to full symphony during dramatic scene
    • ex) “Raja Hindustani” (1996) –> dissonance, accented chords, syncopation used to reflect film tension
  • Musical Universals?

    • “there is a degree of crossover in the use of Hollywood-style music in Hindi and Hollywood films, which is particularly evident in scenes of disturbance, discomfort, trauma, fear and evil” (69)
    • **Now there is also much more crossover to reflect modernity/younger generations with hiphop blends involving “Western” composition as well as Indian instruments
    • some melodies/methods are simply copied from Hollywood conventions (i.e. the saxophone representing the sexualized vamp female figure)
    • “the use of a large ensemble like the symphony orchestra and choruses for epic feeling, grandeur and augmentation of effect my be based on an iconic association between a large ensemble and economic power and hence grandeur” (70)
      • what’s important here is that the grandeur of the orchestra transcends any one cultural context
    • a good part of traditional Indian rhythmic conventions are based on the vocal raga chants, yet recently many alternate tempo/rhythm formulas have been introduced into film music, based on Western techniques
    • p71-72 = highly technical explanation of raga rhythmic/tonal composition
    • by diverging from raga melodic tendencies, the film hints to audiences that there is foreboding dissonance/conflict in the plot…YET with recent global spreading of Bollywood, the industry has been forced to expand its melodic palette to appear relevant to a more diverse audience (and more musically-savvy, especially with more music distribution technology)
    • other examples of new techniques taken up by Hindi films in the past half century: tremolos, ostinatos
    • “In the Indian context, either these techniques are recognized as dissonances within the raga system or they generate discomfort by being outside the raga system or other forms of Indian melody altogether, thereby constituting an antithesis of Indian music” (75)
  • The Coding of Indian Music and Raga
    • Morcom points out that possible initial reason for including non-India  (therefore non-raga) music was to highlight the dissonance in the plot; to make the audience aware of an upcoming change/conflict
    • just an interesting side note: “In the context of Hindi films, songs and melodies (in the background score or song sequences) tend to accompany romantic scenes, or victorious scenes, where good is winning or fighting back, as well as the same devotional, life-cycle ritual and festival contexts as folk music” (80)
  • Conclusions
    • much importance on how various Hollywood techniques are played/performed in relation to the classical Indian ragas & melodies
    • “the use of Western music is not consistent in any straightforward way with the moral coding of the West in its meaning, and it involves many more factors than there has been space to explore here” (81)
      • I’m sure this has stayed true at least partially with recent Bollywood films, but now moral coding must be a little more tied to the Americanized version of modernity and how India approaches that topic
    • “The use of Western music in Hindi films is not just a factor of global fashions and Western or Hollywood cultural hegemony…[and] the musical style of Hindi film songs and background scores, including the level and style of Western music used, is profoundly shaped by the cinematic and dramatic context” (82)

Article: “Indian Films and Nigerian Lovers: Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities” (Larkin)

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**the significance of this article/study is to show an example of another reception study involving Bollywood’s globalization in a part of the world where there has been an overall welcoming attitude towards these films despite a lack of Indian diaspora in the population**

  • Bollywood films as providing a platform for the Hausa ( to explore a possible world very different from their own
  • “Indian films offer Hausa viewers a way of imaginatively engaging with forms of tradition different from their own at the same time as conceiving of a modernity that comes without the political and ideological significance of that of the West” (407)
    • like many of the motivations of other Bollywood studies, Larkin’s is based on the causes behind this interaction of cultures that circumvents Western involvement
  • Parallel Modernities
    • Larkin defines this as: “the coexistence in space and time of multiple economic, religious, and cultural flows that are often subsumed within the term ‘modernity'” (407)
    • differs from Appadurai’s idea of “alternative modernities” in that the former does not necessarily assume a dislocated population as being a crucial factor in the creation of such a modernity
    • the binary frameworks used historically to analyze post-colonial culture are obsolete now; needs to be a more multifaceted system of analysis –> even this word “post-colonial” suggests (WRONGLY) that there was a defining closed period of colonialism that all other time periods relate back to in some way
    • Larkin bases much of his analysis by pointing to Appadurai’s ideas of how media influences various audience’s interpretations of their own realities; adding imaginary aspects to the observable actuality
    • “The popularity of Indian films rests on this delicate balance of being situated between Nigerian ‘tradition’ and Western ‘modernity,’ offering a mediating space for postcolonial Hausa viewers from which they may reflect on and consider the nature of contemporary social change” (410)
  • Indian Films and Hausa Viewers
    • lack of much data relating to Bollywood film distribution in Nigeria has contributed to many scholars ignoring this interplay until recent times
    • different reception of “masala” in Bollywood films by Western audiences vs. Nigerian audiences: the latter is much less likely to condemn the genre as a failure to live up to Western filmic standards/approaches
    • the format that many Bollywood films use (with constant allusions to mythical/religious tropes) has allowed for its growing popularity in Nigeria, despite linguistic/cultural differences
    • Nandy argues, in terms as relevant for Nigerians as they are for Indians, that Indian films are successful with Indian masses because despite their spectacle and rich settings they are based in a moral universe of action that is grounded in a traditional world view” (413)
    • mid 1970s shift of Indian filmic style/music to reflect more cosmopolitanism and Westernization was paralleled with Nigerian industrial shifts related to oil production; time of struggle in relation to how Nigerian viewers identified with Bollywood
  • Imagination, Narrative, and Social Change
    • especially in relation to the institution of marriage, Indian films have provided an escape/fantasy for Hausa, who have similar wedding traditions; film allows people to grapple with real issues in an acceptable form
  • Youth and Marriage in Contemporary Kano
    • industrial shifts in Nigeria have led to a growing resistance among Hausa youth involving customs of marriage
    • Hausa books (soyayya) and Bollywood films have long explored the possibility of romantic fantasies
    • “Indian films [succeeded] only by engaging with issues that were meaningful to Hausa viewers yet at the same time providing enough of a difference for alternative resolutions to be possible…[revealing] the intertextual presence of Indian films” (418)
  • Market Literature in the Vernacular: The Rise of SOYAYYA Books
    • littatafan soyayya = love stories; first came about from Kano, a cultural center in northern Nigeria; mostly target youth with content and themes of love
    • seen as a social movement to counter many existing restrictions involving marriage, especially as enforced on young Hausa women
    • Larkin mentions “the complicated ways in which transnational media flows become incorporated into individual experience and affect larger social constructions such as gender” (423-424)
    • quick summary of two soyayya books (p425); many soyayya books serve to put a rebellious spin on existing Hausa traditions/attitudes; very melodramatic/sensational; they often show intergenerational conflicts revolving around ideas of modernity and tradition (very similar to Bollywood tropes)
    • “the mass culture of soyayya books and Indian films develops the process of ambiguity by presenting various resolutions of similar predicaments in thousands of narratives extending over many years” (429)
  • Soyayya Books, Youth, and Social Change: The Controversy
    • these books have led to an evolution in the way that Hausa (mainly young women) approach situations of romance; these cultural productions have led to real social change in gender relations
  • Conclusion
    • important point by Larkin: “For Hausa viewers, Indian films have been situated in cultural space that sands outside the binary distinctions between tradition and modernity, Africa and the West, resistance and domination. The images of modernity they offer are mediated through a concern for maintaining traditional social relations and so they run parallel to, similar yet different from, the modernity offered by Westernization” (433)
    • yet reductionism by many scholars historically has led to a lack of acknowledgment of this significant cultural interplay between India and Nigeria
    • “Indian films are popular because they provide a parallel modernity, a way of imaginatively engaging with the changing social basis of contemporary life that is an alternative to the pervasive influence of a secular West” (434)

Article: “Bollywood in the Indian-American diaspora: Mediating a Transitive Logic of Cultural Citizenship” (Punathambekar)

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  • very interesting idea of “reterritorialization” (151) for how Indian diaspora reclaims certain aspects of their original identity
  • example of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham ( or…) as a film that shows diasporic Indian identity – both individual and familial – as an acceptable alternate instead of a adulterated version
  • Public Culture Goes Transnational
    • “these audiences can no longer be treated as merely markets catalyzing the ‘globalization’ of the Hindi film industry or as communities seemingly starved of cultural resources, but rather, as an integral part of the cultural imaginary of Hindi cinema” (153)
      • must look more into the evolution of the perception/formation of the NRI identity!!
    • NRIs stand for much more than simply an expatriate Indian in the context of films, but now as a role model for financial success in the global sense
    • this idea of character has come about from interactions between the State, the Hindi film industry, and various audience communities (both in India and those around the world)
  • Viewing Practices: Continuity and Cultural Residence
    • in 1960s and 1970s, Indian films were looked upon by diasporic audiences as a link to the homeland; as something that was exclusively Indian: evoking a sense of nostalgia
    • interesting technological development: as videocassettes became more popular/affordable, there was a shift away from public screenings to more family/private watching
    • 1990s: development of ZEE TV as well as Indian radio allowed for continuity of Bollywood experience through various platforms/mediums
  • Designer India for Suburban Homes
    • recent efforts for films (like KKKG) to show tradition and modernity existing simultaneously AND in harmony (trying to find a balance between various perspectives of audience members)
    • yet at the same time, “tradition” is often tied to lower classes, being more closely bonded through “performing ethnicity” (157)
    • author points out that NRIs are aware of their straddling position as well as their potential to create a new sense of India (more globally-focused and less on ethnic tension & poverty): “model minority” (157)
    • advantages of this approach: constant awareness of the possibilities of India in the future; disadvantages: it starts creating an imagined ideal India that may not be actually implemented (leading to more disjuncture between diasporic and native Indian populations)
  • Rehearsing, Reworking, and Remaining “Indian”
    • idea of NRI households maintaining a certain level of Indian tradition, usually personified in the role of women in various Bollywood films
    • “English-language films and music, soaps and sitcoms on television and stereotypical assessments of modes of socialization (dating, for instance) and other sociocultural phenomena (divorce rates, single-parent households, and so on) are all marshalled as evidence of the debauched West and situated in sharp contrast to the traditional and morally superior values of ‘Indianness’ in countless Hindi movies” (159)
    • “Viewers in the diaspora disassociate the dialogue from its context within the film and reinsert it into their own viewing postionality” (161)
      • formerly only-Indian issues are translated into arenas of debate/concern that the Indian diaspora would find worthy of reflection; while in India it might be an issue of caste/class, the diaspora takes it to allude to existing ethnic clashes among different generations (and different cultural groups)
    • Punathambekar points out that recently, Bollywood films like KKKG have started to change their message to this: “the flow of cultural elements that lend authenticity is no longer a heavy-handed one-way flow from India to its expatriate Other…[who is shown as] less of a transgressive Other and more of an acceptable variant within the fold of a ‘great Indian family'” (162)
  • The Nation Seeks its Citizens
    • “Not only is the family rendered inextricable from the nation, it is an explicit acknowledgment, both to viewers in India and the diaspora, of the diaspora’s abiding desire to stay in touch with India” (163)
      • here, Punathambekar shows that the family remains a microcosm of the unity/stability of India, even in the context of NRI life
  • Cultural Nationalism: of Desi Home(s) and Deferred Citizenship
    • very important point: “Rajadhyksha’s argument that the exportation of Bollywood cinema also signifies an export of ‘Indian nationalism itself, now commodified and globalized into a ‘feel good’ version of our culture’ (2003: 37) needs to be extended much further to account for the complexities inherent in a three-way relationship between diasporic audiences, Bollywood, and the Indian state. I would like to posit that a transitive logic is operative here, that the complex interactions between A) the diaspora and B) Bollywood, and between B) Bollywood and C) India, have set the stage for C) India to remap symbolic and material relationships with A) the diaspora” (164)
      • network of interactions between diaspora, India, and Bollywood have created each to be what they are today
    • the motivations of the the Indian media system in relation to NRIs becomes increasingly complex as the latter contributes more and more to the nationalistic view of India

Article: “Indian Cinema Goes Global” (Raina)

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“Indian Cinema Goes Global” – Raghunath Raina (found from Ch 4 GB)

  • Bollywood “quality is now of international standards” –> implications of this statement…what does it mean to rise to “international” level versus having a previously national-focused agenda?
  • interesting now of how some films do better abroad than at home
  • article cites within-India tech growth as one main reason for a rise in global presence
  • many Indians now involved even in more artistic/creative facets of film-making
  • significance of Ismail Merchant:

Article: “Beyond the Nation? Or Within?” (Chatterjee)

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  • Chatterjee feels that study should focus on within the nation to see effects of global change (looking at how political/global/economic shifts have made internal changes)
  • The Transnational Tendencies
    • refers to Appadurai’s concepts of “electronic mediatoin and mass migration” (58) and summarizes them (see M@L Ch 1)
    • brings up how Appadurai says: the nation-state is no longer equipped to cater to people’s best interests
    • “locality” (59) is hard to produce because:
      • nation-states have adopted more homogeneous policies to augment system of control
      • social identity is less dependent on territory
      • electronic mediation has grouped virtual/spatial communities into the same group
  • Civil Society/Political Society
    • An important consideration in thinking about the relation between civil society and the state in the modern history of formerly colonial countries is the fact that whereas the legal-bureaucratic apparatus of the state has been able, by the late colonial and certainly in the postcolonial period, to reach as the target of many of its activities virtually all the population that inhabits its territory, the domain of civil-social institutions as conceived above is still restricted to a fairly small section of ‘citizens.’ This hiatus is extremely significant because it is the mark of non-Western modernity as an always incomplete project of ‘modernization’ and of the role of an enlightened elite engaged in a pedagogical mission in relation to the rest of society” (61)
    • civil-society (cultural systems) vs political society (state) as different spheres of the community
    • Chatterjee argues that former colonial nations use institutions of civil society to form their own unique modernities (while still following Western traditional frameworks)
  • New Political Society & Democracy
    • India: civil-social institutions are carefully separated from political configurations
    • national policies had to be easily applied to the population as a whole; did NOT always align with typically elite aspects of civil society
    • post-colonial nations actively push to define political society in a way that embraces modernization (64)
  • Modernity versus Democracy (3 Theses)

    • Chatterjee offers 3 theses to analyze historical processes of modernity in non-Western societies (65):
      • While in colonial period there was most change in civil society, post-colonial period shows more change in political society configuration.
      • In the context of social transformation, the focus was on modernity during colonial period and is now on democracy in the post-colonial period.
      • Now with globalization, there is “emerging opposition” (65) between modernity (civil society) and democracy  (political society).
    • Chatterjee says that there is tension both in globality/modernity mediation AND globality/democracy mediation –> yet the nation-state is incapable of doing both!
    • in context of Western societies, their old established systems of political duty are being reformulated and reinterpreted by recent immigration groups
    • on the other hand, former colonial countries (Hungary and India fall here) are too commonly automatically measured in terms of modernity/development (nonalliance to Western yardstick seen as simply a lack)
    • “proper modernization” (67) seen as balance of state & civil-society institutions
    • many civil-society institutions (e.g. Amnesty International) act to supervise (from outside the state) the nation-state to make sure it complies with universal human rights, etc
    • globalization has led to a reassessment of many core elements of democracy

Article: “Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows” (Curtin)

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  • scholars must restructure the network of media flows to a more multidirectional & multifaceted format
  • as the nation-state’s autonomy becomes secondary to the rise of interdependence of nations, a new framework must be used: “contemporary television is transcending frontiers & disrupting conventional structures of domination” (203)
  • “media capitals” as being central hubs in global webs of information flow
  • **Saskia Sassen’s idea of global cities –> is this something I should look into?**
    • especially in the context of historical/economic processes behind this attainment by some and not others
  • being a media capital does NOT imply total domination, but rather more like a well-known platform where cultural interactions & exchanges take place
  • Chicago and Hollywood
    • competition between the two to be seen as media capital of US
    • geographical roles of each; Chicago as more plugged into the eastern US network while Hollywood was a center for film talent
    • yet in 1950s there was a shift to Hollywood (centralization) as hub for virtually all media operations
  • Neo-Network Hollywood
    • nowadays, ntwks slowly starting to consider overseas audience (mvmt beyond “national” configurations)
    • shift from monopolistic set-up to a bigger variety of channels/paths
    • Hollywood as more of meeting point for many places/players rather than the source of all production
  • Hong Kong Television
    • broadcast arrived in 1967; as British colonial power waned, Hong Kong grew stronger as nexus for Cantonese/Chinese media production
    • **consider how India’s post-independence period influenced media infrastructural growth**
  • Neo-Network Hong Kong
    • as tech advancements occur, a more diverse pattern of distribution becomes feasible
    • ** Samuel Huntington (1993) and Joseph Straubhaar (1997): their work related to geopolitics in post-Cold War era & transnational media flow**
  • Conclusion
    • “The study of media capital directs our attention to complex interactions among a range of flows (economical, demographical, technological, cultural, ideological) that operate at a variety of levels (local, national, regional, global)” (222)

Article: “Cinema in Urban Space” (Vasudevan)

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“Cinema in Urban Space” – Ravi Vasudevan

-found in GB Ch 15

**need to read/summarize/analyze**

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