GB, Ch 14: “Bollyweb” (Mitra)

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“Bollyweb: Search for Bollywood on the Web and See What Happens!” by Ananda Mitra

  • Categories of Resources
    • 5 types of online resources related to Bollywood: institutional web pgs, personal web pgs, blogs, usenet grps, chat rooms
  • Institutional Web Pages
    • credible arena to boost reach of Bollywood AND the fame of its stars/directors/composers/etc
    • also helps increase marketable visibility (from more of an advertising/business POV)
  • Personal Web Pages
    • mainly fans; ex) many pages dedicated to Amitabh Bachchan
  • Blogs
    • significance of blogs being opinions of individuals; in a way they are legitimated on the web just by being available/accessible to so many people
    • “the distinction between the individual and the institution begins to blur” (272) –> new rewriting of Bollywood history through the combined productions of the more official sites and those informal blogs
  • Usenet Groups
    • “these groups are often classified around specific interest areas and thus people with special interests can become attached to specific groups and begin to sense a feeling of community being built around the specific interest area” (272)
  • Chat Rooms
    • importance of discussions happening in real time (social agency)
  • Voices of Bollyweb
    • these new platforms of sharing information/opinions (such as blogs) “are unencumbered by institutional constraints” (275) –> how this opens up the sphere of dialogue beyond those figures that might assume that they are the most important/knowledgeable sources of information on the given topic
  • Bollyweb Going Global
    • role of NRIs also: “people who are not physically in India but have a fondness for Bollywood that has motivated them to produce some component of Bollyweb” (277)
  • Bollyweb as the Digital Memory of Bollywood
    • traditionally, it has been the case that institutions develop formal histories of events they are involved with: “history has typically been institutional as specific professionals have taken on the task of either discovering history or chronicling the present for the future” (278)
    • in contrast to the Internet’s way of quasi-institutionalizing the voices of the individuals w/ any online presence
  • Conclusion
    • Internet has spawned new sense of urgency AND a new way of negotiating online space/talking with others (transcending traditional borders and barriers)
    • reciprocal relationship of millions of Internet participants and the Bollywood industry
    • the easily accessible Internet “offers a space where people who have felt powerless to speak can now find a space to express themselves, and find others who are interested in speaking about the same issue” (280)

Works to Look into:

1) Mitra, A. 1999. “Characteristics of the WWW Text: Tracing Discursive Strategies.”  Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 5(1). Retrieved August 24, 2005, from:

2) Mitra, A. and E. Cohen. 1999. “Analyzing the Web: Directions and Challenges.” In Doing Internet Research, ed. S. Jones, 179-202. London: Sage.

3) Mitra, A. and E. Watts. 2002. “Theorizing Cyberspace: The Idea of Voice Applied to the Internet Discourse.” New Media & Society 4 (4): 479-98.


GB, Ch 15: “We’re Online, Not on the Streets” (Punathambekar)

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“We’re Online, Not on the Streets”: Indian Cinema, New Media, and Participatory Culture” by Aswin Punathambekar

  • author will move away from fan extremism/political motivations of film industry and instead look at “how cinema, as an experience and an object of study, is constituted in fundamental ways through convergence with other media” (283)
  • new media and cross-media interactions are very important here: movement away from unidirectional info flow towards a more dynamic back and forth (lots of these dynamic conversations are going on simultaneously, which creates a new way of navigating through/interpreting Bollywood)
  • Film Music and Fan Culture: AR Rahman
    • Rahman has has visual presence on TV for many years now; helped boost his popularity
    • Rahman as straddling many sectors of identity: symbol of global spread of Bollywood (285)
    • these sites also provide translations of the lyrics (language as possible barrier but instead it opens up for more diverse interpretation)
  • Participatory Culture Beyond the Cinema Hall
    • fan sites, for example, are yet another development of the original cinema hall, where for the first time there was a lack of strict ethnic/class division…importance of the spectator as someone who is validated, the audience member as someone who is being performed to (and worthy of that attention)
    • this development “forces us to consider the radio, television, the Internet, and mobile-phones as sites constitutive of the publicness of cinema as much as the cinema hall itself, if not more” (291)
  • Between the Rowdy and the Rasika (Connoisseur)
    • blending identity of the fan today (mix of boisterous/devotional)
    • here is where the active production by the individual fan (with wide spectrum of interpretive frameworks) has the potential to really re-create an aspect of Bollywood’s meaning/identity
    • a new image/symbol created through the audience response(s)
    • it is necessary to see “a shift towards examining the ‘fan’ as a construct that is not eternal and essential, but rather, as shaped equally by industry practices, textual properties of film-based content that flow across multiple media, and social interactions in identifiable fan communities” (295)

Works to Look into:

1) Srinivas, S.V. 2003a. “Film Culture: Politics and Industry.” Seminar, no. 525. Retrieved on August 18, 2004, from

2) Vasudevan, R. 2003. “Cinema in Urban Space.” Seminar, no. 525. Retrieved on February 23, 2004, from

GB, Ch 11: Songs from the Heart (Sarrazin)

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“Songs from the Heart: Musical Coding, Emotional Sentiment, and Transnational Sonic Identity in India’s Popular Film Music” by Natalie Sarrazin

  • Important questions that Sarrazin brings up: “How have Western aesthetics altered Indian film music expectations? What is the impact of the transnational environment on musical and visual representations of sentiment?” (203)
  • “From the Heart”
    • film songs’ important role in conveying raw emotion AND combining various cultural/musical signifiers to show deeper messages pertaining Indian society (204)
    • “film songs, therefore, are in unique positions to aurally illustrate cultural concepts such as emotion and ‘heart’ to their audiences, relying on pre-composed concepts of emotional sentiment and common codes of musical understanding” (204)
    • voice’s prominence; performance of a song in a film as vehicle for deeper character development
    • ‘heart’ as linking to generosity, ability to express, and generally a symbol of emotion
  • Codes
    • music and visual signifiers (embedded within long-standing cultural contexts) have developed in recent years to cater to a growth of global audiences…some of these contexts transcend the understood Indian experience; others don’t
    • **MUST consider this: have cultural codes in film music been so negotiated/rewritten during this period of globalization that they stand for India in general/as a stereotype as opposed to actually acknowledging the more complex nuances?
    • voice, violin, etc as having various cultural codes
  • Emotional and Narrative Intensification
    • temporal jumps are made more allowable in film with music
    • “recontextualization, or shifting the narrative frame through song, provides opportunities for the viewer to re-experience alternative aspects of the plot through different emotional lenses, creating temporary but crucial tensions in the process” (211)
  • Signature Sounds: Old and New
    • older film trend was to use full symphony orchestra: “replete with large string section that lent the type of melodramatic soundtrack reminiscent of Western romantic stage and screen” (211)
      • implications for imitating Western conventions? perhaps to show its domestic audience that it was comparable (in standards) to Hollywood while simultaneously showing the more powerful West that India was capable of such aesthetic projects
      • 1990s shift to new music composition, which in turn has led to a new perspective of India
  • Contemporary Sound and the New Exoticism
    • now many more blends of traditional Indian and Western sounds
    • more tech developments means that it is easier to recreate these sounds — not necessarily to imitate them, but to negotiate them in a new setting (incorporation with more orthodox aural symbols)
  • Playback Authenticity and Timbre
    • “Newer singers, however, must negotiate between recent transnational aesthetic demands…[with] a capacity to exude much more feeling, which is often timbrally related to the sound stylings of Western pop singers” (214)
      • recreation of ideals/standards in the age of global Bollywood
  • Musical Heart on a Transnational Stage
    • **musical codes are already flexible enough to account for the varying backgrounds of viewers in India, so it isn’t such a drastic change to make them relatable to more global audiences**
      • “these same codes can be read by NRIs and their children who have tenuous ties with India, or even for foreign viewers who have little knowledge of Indian traditional culture” (214)
    • more socially: music is a way of transcending class differences
    • “With larger numbers of Indians living abroad and the escalating exchange of monetary remittance, cultural ideas, and material products, Indians at home are increasingly exposed to Western aesthetics” (215)
  • Conclusion
    • in global times, music/dance sequences have become even more essential for Bollywood films
    • blending of various genres is HUGE in Bollywood music
    • “Film music, at its most basic level, is used to create culturally meaningful codes that ensure emotional intensity for the audience while stretching to sustain traditional values for one type of audience as it satisfies the exotic curiosity of the other” (217)
      • in relation to Hungary, I have to think about how the “Indian identity” has been developed through the films — and also how the music has come to stand for a symbol of Bollywood/India particularly for Hungarians (what aural experiences do they use to interpret the songs?)

Works to Look into:

1) Morcom, Anna. 2001. “An Understanding between Bollywood and Hollywood? The Meaning of Hollywood-style Music in Hindi Films.” British Journal of Ethnomusicology 10/I, pp.63-84.

GB, Ch 10: “From Villain to Traditional Housewife!” (Govindan/Dutta)

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“From Villain to Traditional Housewife!” The Politics of Globalization and Women’s Sexuality in the “New” Indian Media (Padma P. Govindan & Bisakha Dutta)

  • changes in Bollywood standards of Indian femininity are especially important now with global media flows of Hindi cinema: as the film industry adjusts to make itself marketable to audiences worldwide, it must deal with long-standing issues of defining its feminine characters
    • “actresses are expected to represent globalized images of a liberated female sexuality, but are still circumscribed by shifting yet narrow definitions of ‘Indian’ femininity” (181)
  • oxymoron: sudden proliferation of multi-directional media outlets has led to an even stricter (and more stereotype-based) definition of the Indian woman
  • “media representational practices repeatedly fetishize these women as ‘feminized’ bodies, subjecting them to a voyeuristic male gaze — their sexual and gendered selves [continue] to be circumscribed” (181)
  • Liberalization and the Indian Media
    • boom of economic growth in 1990s; consolidation of media industry since then
    • yet this convergence has led to a conflict:
      • main argument of the essay: “we contend that the expansion of ‘celebrity’ media venues has resulted, paradoxically, in the continued limiting of subject positions that are available to Hindi actresses” (184)
  • Representations of Feminine Sexuality
    • female actors must constantly navigate through socially/externally defined standards of identity, esp with rise of cross-media coverage…media ubiquity — they are always acting the part
    • historical tropes of the “virgin” and the “vamp” in Hindi films; these days, more of a blending of the two extremes
  • Negotiating Sexuality
    • self-surveillance of Indian actresses to help negotiate their appearance/public identity in various contexts (Mallika Sherawat, Priyanka Chopra
  • Using/Being Used by the Gaze
    • “Actresses in the Bollywood mediascape internalize and make organic the panoptic gaze of the industry they inhabit, and as a result, must draw together the strands of various contradictory and hybrid sexual expectations” (194)
      • Bollywood actresses are being objectified even as they push for subjectivity in balancing their roles/public lives

Works to Look into:

1) Appadurai, A., and C. Breckenridge. 1995. “Public Modernity in India.” In Consuming Modernity, ed. Breckenridge, 1-17. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

2) Jenkins, H. 2004. “Pop Cosmopolitanism: Mapping Cultural Flows in an Age of Media Convergence.” In Globalization: Culture and Education in the New Millenium, ed. M. M. Suarez-Orozco and D. B. Qin-Hillard, 114-140. Berkeley: University of California Press.

3) Moorti, S. 2003. “Desperately Seeking an Identity: Diasporic Cinema and the Articulation of Transnational Kinship.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 6 (3): 355-76.

4) Naregal, V. 2004. “Bollywood and Indian Cinema: Changing Contexts and Articulations of National Cultural Desire.” In The SAGE Handbook of Media Studies,ed. J.D.H. Downing et al., 517-540. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.

5) Sreberny-Mohammadi, A. 2000. “The Global and the Local in International Communications.” In The Anthropology of Media, ed. K. Askew and R.R. Wilk, 337-56. Malden, Mass: Blackwell.

GB, Ch 7: “Exoticized, Marginalized, Demonized” (Chadha/Kavoori)

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Exoticized, Marginalized, Demonized: The Muslim “Other” in Indian Cinema (Kalyani Chadha & Anandam P. Kavoori)

**this essay focuses on Muslim presence/portrayal in Hindi cinema, but I’m interested in it more from the perspective of seeing how this otherness is complicated even within India, which has recently come to be seen as “pluralistic” — in a way that implies there are none of these tensions. I guess I’m curious to see how the issues brought up in this essay are relevant to  the development of Bollywood’s global presence**

  • India has great diversity, and often many of its minorities have felt marginalized politically (which has come to be the case in various forms on-screen)
  • the authors want to point out how these social tensions within India have translated onto certain filmic representations (especially focusing on the Muslim/Hindu conflicts)
  • “such developments that reflect the struggle over India’s identity have significantly undermined the carefully constructed conceptions of pluralism and secularism that informed the postcolonial state under Nehru” (132)
    • this complicates the over-idealistic (desired) model of India as transcending these historical binaries…in fact the country is hardly free from those tensions
  • Bollywood is a vehicle for secularism for multi-ethnic cooperation…OR, does it simply maintain differences by avoiding any significant departure from the dominant social consensus??
    • “othering” of Muslim characters in many Hindi films (134)
  • The Exotic Other
    • long trend in cinema
    • see p135-138 for details on this exoticizing that reflected the earlier colonially-imposed binaries among different ethnic groups (usually those who were in power vs those who weren’t)
  • The Marginal Other
    • shift in mid 20th century from this exoticization to an overall absence of Muslims on-screen
  • The Demonized Other
    • 1990s: shift to Muslims often being cast as villains; political angle when shown as terrorists versus the Indian state (very discrete/removed from actuality in Kashmir, as an example)
    • Bollywood “has traditionally Othered minorities by representing them almost exclusively through stereotypes, reducing members of minority groups to a set of cultural, linguistic, or behavioral archetypes” (143)
  • Secular in Nature
    • Bollywood’s claim vs. reality in context of secularism: it professes one stance while really following more conservative practices that allow existing prejudices to endure

Works to Look into:

1) Sethi, M. 2002. “Cine-Patriotism.” Retrieved September 2, 2006, from

2) Tharoor, S. 2001. “Classic and Contemporary.” Retrieved September 2, 2006, from

GB, Ch 5: The Globalization of “Bollywood” (Thussu)

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The Globalization of “Bollywood”: The Hype and the Hope (Daya Thussu)

  • Thussu plans to show “how a combination of national and transnational factors, including deregulation of media and communication sectors, the availability of new delivery and distribution mechanisms as well as growing corporatization of the film industry, has contributed to global visibility of popular Indian cinema” (97)
    • consider which ones of these related to Hungary/India relations
  • economic power/growth as preceding/paving the way for cultural spread (especially with diaspora in UK and US, among other places world-wide)
  • US-based media’s recent growth across borders just seem to have served to usher in some transnational tactics by India (98-99)
  • Globalization of India Cinema: Historical Context
    • 1913: first feature length film “Raja Harishchandra” (
    • 1913-1931: silent era, >1200 films made
    • 1931: first “talkie” = “Alam Ara” (
    • “For audiences in other Asian countries, as well as in Africa and the Arab world, Indian films had a huge appeal, with their melodramatic narrative style and a storyline which emphasized dichotomies between the just and the unjust, enlivened with song-and-dance sequences” (100)
      • colonial link/bond between these countries, all were/are part of Euro-defined “Other” –> finding similarities/commonalities in these historical binaries
  • Exporting Indian Cinema to the West
    • tech advancement has certainly aided global spread of Hindi films — without necessary devices, one could NOT wach them from home (101)
  • “Bollywoodization” of Television
    • cropping up of many new satellite/cable television ntwks to stream even more Indian movies/shows to (mainly diasporic) audiences around the world
  • The Old Imperial Capital and the New Bollywood
    • London as “a vital link in the global distribution of Hindi films and a center of Indian media operations in the West” (102)
      • economic remnants of colonialism even in present-day
    • yet Bollywood’s institutional presence in the UK must develop more tight-knit alliances (in terms of distribution/production) if it wants to continue to grow
  • Creating a Culture of Corporatization
    • government financing has grown in recent years as cinema has become a global export/commodity (shift from older sources of funding that were illegal)
  • “Crossover Cinema”? Hype and Hope
    • easy enough to get the institutional parts working in the global arena; harder to get global cultural relevancy and attraction
    • Bollywood has become “a hybrid cultural product that fuses the language of Hollywood with the accent, slang, and emotions of India…[which] in the process ends up refiguring the Hollywood hegemony in a hybridized product” (107)
      • how language takes on greater social meaning/symbolism
  • Hollywood and Bollywood
    • growth of convergence recently, more co-productions too
    • yet people worry about “a lurking danger that with Hollywood production houses dominating film financing, Indian films might lose their cultural distinctiveness” (111)
      • **how does this change/remain the same when considering Bollywood’s presence in Hungary? on the one hand, this interaction does not involve going through Hollywood/West, yet these productions are not made primarily for  a Hungarian audience**

Works to Look into:

1) Goswami, K. 2004. “Bollywood…the New Hollywood?” Variety, October 3.

2) Larkin, B. 1997. “Indian Films and Nigerian Lovers: Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities.” Africa 67 (3).

3) Punathambekar, A. 2005. “Bollywood in the Indian-American Diaspora: Mediating a Transitive Logic of Cultural Citizenship.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 8 (2): 151-173.

GB, Ch 4: “Hollywood, Bollywood, Tollywood” (Kumar)

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“Hollywood, Bollywood, Tollywood: Redefining the Global in Indian Cinema”  by Shanti Kumar

  • author Kumar draws attention to value of studying development of “globalization of production practices outside Hollywood” (79) –> will help to break out of binary way of thinking AND set of assumptions that everything outside “the West” is necessarily influenced/modeled after the West
  • “the new, hybrid mediascapes at [Ramoji Film City] RFC represent the rise of a new transnational vernacular in Indian cinema…[and]…has engendered new ways of imagining the interconnections of the global, the national, the regional, and the local” (80)
    • in other words, the adjustable movie sets in RFC are designed in such a way that many diverse movies can be filmed there; and furthermore these flexible sets show the potential for India as a site for creating these environments…

  • very interesting to see how the urban space of RFC is used to as various signifiers (of other physical locations) embedded in certain historical/cultural contexts
  • Remapping Hollywood, Bollywood, and Tollywood
    • Ramoji as a “self-contained world of flexible authenticity” (86)…consider what parallels can be found here when comparing RFC’s function/role to that of a cheaper shooting location like Hungary that is often substituted for more well-known (and usually more expensive) locales like Italy, etc.
  • Redefining the Global
    • India as an example of (minor and still very much growing) separate source of popular movies apart from Hollywood
    • yet again, another mention of diaspora’s role: “One of the reasons that is often given to account for Bollywood going global is that the Indian entertainment industry is now recognizing the economic incentives of catering to its relatively affluent and culturally passionate diaspora” (93)

Works to Look at:

1) Aiyar, S. and S. Unnithan. 2003. “Bollywood’s Flight: The World A Stage.” India Today.

2) Barooah, S. 2000. “Indian Spice Sprinkling in the World of Cinema.” Retrieved April 6, 2004 from

3) Power, C. and S. Mazumdar. 2000. “America Isn’t the Only Country That Knows How to Spin and Export Fantasies.” Newsweek International, February 28.

4) Raina, R. 2000. “Indian Cinema Goes Global.” Press Information Bureau, Government of India. Available at:

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