Bollywood is the term given to the Mumbai-based film industry in India, and one of the largest centers of film production in the world (Wikipedia, accessed 27.8.14). Bollywood makes over 1000 movies a year, and is considered one of the highest earning industries for Mumbai (BBC, 2011). Not only is Bollywood a major financial asset for India, but its productions are a cultural export, increasing India’s soft power. Even though the films consist of Hindi dialogue, they are popular in countries all over the world, “Bollywood is already … bringing its brand of glitzy entertainment not just to the Indian diaspora in the US or UK but to the screens of Syrians and Senegalese, who may not understand the Hindi dialogue but catch the spirit of the films, and look at India with stars in their eyes as a result” (Shashi Tharoor, sourced from lecture notes).
Nigeria has it’s own, up-and-coming, film industry. In 2007 alone, ‘Nollywood’ produced 1,687 films making it the third largest film industry in the world (Khorana 2014). Nollywood emerged in the early 1990’s, based upon the Yoruba travelling theater tradition. Since it’s emergence, Nollywood has become, “an art and industry…[that] compels attention from those outside its field of operation and cultural vision” (Okome 2007). However, unlike Hollywood and Bollywood, Nollywood makes it’s films for the entertainment of the local population, with little regard of how it is perceived in foreign markets (Okome 2007).
Both Bollywood and Nollywood draw on local and global influences, with a mix of tradition and modernity (Khorana 2014). Both industries have seen relative success in foreign markets. With the exportation of these films, boundaries between countries & cultures, tradition & modernity and high & low culture, have been blurred (Khorana 2014). The film industry has become a form of international soft power, and a driving force in dispersing not only the country’s culture, but also the popular culture of countries from all over the world.
However, Hollywood still dominates the Global North, with its financial success and international recognition. Although these ‘foreign’ film industries are building there own rapport in the international market, it is difficult to find the same success with a Western audience, to whom experiencing a film is a different experience entirely. For audiences of Bollywood and Nollywood films, viewing is a collective and even social experience. Okome (2007, p.79) discusses the “’street corner’ audiences coming together in front of video and music stalls. These are the main outlets for the rental of video and music cassettes, VCDs and DVDs in Nigerian cities”. In Indian (particularly Bollywood) cinema’s, viewing films is a social experience, involving large groups of people, conversations and shared enjoyment, unlike the Western reverence of viewing a film in a movie theatre (Frew 2014).
Although the themes of these international film industries are transcending borders and aiding in the promotion of soft power globalisation, I regrettably doubt that the films will see the same success as Hollywood has in foreign markets, due to the differing ways we, as Westerner’s, consume and engage with our films.
Khorana, S 2014, BCM111 Global Film Beyond Hollywood: Industry Focus: 2014 lecture notes 20th August 2014, University of Wollongong, Semester 2, 2014.
Frew, C 2014, BCM111 Global Film Beyond Hollywood: Industry Focus: 2014 tutorial discussion 28th August 2014, University of Wollongong, Semester 2, 2014.
Freelance Lighting Cameraman (BBC), 8th July 2011, What is Bollywood, Youtube, 27th August 2014, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WikpP_WC7eQ>.
Okome, O 2007, ‘Nollywood: Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption’, Postcolonial Text, vol. 3, No. 2, University of Alberta, cited in BCM111 International Media and Communication Subject Reader, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia, reading 6.
Wikipedia, n.d, Bollywood, viewed 25th August 2014, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bollywood>