Monday, August 13, 2007

Taking On Bollywood

Like some other readers who have commented on Tyler Cowen' s take on Hollywood's attempt to take on Bollywood on its own turf, I disagree with Cowen's reasoning. The slicker, better made movies coming out of Bollywood these days have modern (westernized) themes.

The cast speaks Hinglish for the most part and the audience is not complaining. At the confluence of American and Indian culture lies the improbable yet appropriate McDonald's lamb burger with curry that Cowen refers to. The desire to westernize is strong enough to reach such odd compromises and that might by key to Hollywood making a successful foray into the highly lucrative Indian movie industry.

Mainstream Bollywood has always been about hyperbole and not any realistic or accurate depiction of Indian society. There used to be parallel cinema for all of that artsy nonsense. A family oriented crowd pleaser has a formula that is varied upon but rarely abandoned. How hard is it for Hollywood to put that time-tested formula to work and jazz it up with some nifty special effects.

It is possible Hollywood would never get the cultural vibe of the Indian country-side, but that does not appear to be the target market. There would be no need to find a local story to appeal to the urban population. I find it very easy to see a Priety Zinta and Vivek Oberoi in the desi-fied version of Notting Hill for instance doing extremely well at the box-office.

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