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Does the West care about Indian movies? 
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Post Does the West care about Indian movies?
I guess a majority of the readers coming to this site are (filmbuffs or otherwise) from the West (U.S. and European countries). I am from India and I consider myself a movie-buff. In my life, I have watched (and continue watching) most of the "classics" made in the West. And like many of you, I do watch most of the recently released "Hollywood" movies (thanks to critics such as Berardinelli and Roger Ebert, who help me decide what not to watch...though I don't solely go by their 'recommendations' / 'star-ratings', anyway that's besides the point). Apart from this, I do watch movies that are made in Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, et al. However, most of the movies that I have watched happen to be from India, which unfortunately is termed as "Bollywood" by many. The reason why I call such a term as unfortunate is because only 20% or so of the movies made in India are made in HIndi, and the rest 80% of the movies are made in other Indian languages. Just as some of us in India who watch Hollywood movies have some stereotypical notions about the Western movies (especially the Hollywood movies), I guess the Western audience has its own set of stereotypes about movies made in India. And from whatever I gather, most of these stereotypes seem to be pretty negative ones...for instance, I guess the Western audience (not all, but a majority, I believe) considers Indian movies as being synonymous with Bollywood movies and that again is seen to be synonymous with song-dance costume dramas. Let me tell you, if you have nay such notion, it is largely misplaced. Before I make this discussion too long, and express my views, I would like to know whether The West cares about Indian movies at all. I guess Indian movies are even less important than most Korean/Japanese horror movies, as far as the West is concerened. Please let me know if my idea of a Western movie goer (that of being largely ignorant of Indian movies and even if there is some awareness, it is full of negative stereotypical notions) is a flawed one. Awaiting your comments.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:50 am
Post Re: Does the West care about Indian movies?
To me, a movie is a movie; there should be no divide based on it's country of origin.

Of course with the current climate as regards the representation of racial equality having reached the brink of madness, especially in the UK and USA, this notion has now become far too over thought!

It really does annoy me when people develop a lesser opinion of a movie or television show based on the diversity of its cast/characters. The real world is by no means organized enough that any given group of people in an everyday situation will contain a certain ratio of ethnic diversity. I know that in the UK, the current PC-obsessed government wishes this to be the case but human nature will simply not allow it.

Let me give an example; my former workplace... I worked on the fresh food counters in a large store belonging to a multi-national supermarket chain. My department consisted of around thirty people, including manager and team leaders. One of the thirty was from Ghana (the only one to be from an African nation/desent of any kind), three were from Nepal and one was from India. The remaining people were all of Caucasian British descent. Does this represent a "diverse" slice of life? In my opinion, diversity is a nonsense term, given the random behavior and social patterns of any given group of people in any given place in the world.

To point out a lack of diversity would imply that you first understand the exact ratios of ethnic differences within a given place. This will obviously vary depending on how great a net you wish to take your survey within. You simply cannot give a "fair" idea of ethnic diversity, as such things are entirely random wherever you go.

Recently in the British press, an Austrailian made tv show that is aired in the UK was criticised for unfairly representing the ethnic diversity of the area in which the show is set. Apart from the location being fictional, and therefore the argument being flawed by default as a consequence, the show is no less representative than films and shows made in other countries, like India and Japan for example.

The western world does seem to have become obessed with pandering to the misinformed notion that true diversity means to look different. If films and television are to reflect real life then adding artificial diversity sort of defeats the object, does it not? Diversity for the sake of it, to me, is as racist as so called delibirate misrepresentation, and stands out far more than the latter. Besides, when does anyone criticise "Bollywood" movies for their lack of white actors and characters? Were the creators of Battle Royale racists becuase there were only Japanese actors and characters involved? Certainly not in any publicised view!

To actually answer your question, I think the west does care about Indian movies but perhaps not for the right reasons. I think Cinema as a whole could benifit from the observation of the work of the various cultures who contribute towards it but I also think the obsessive monitoring of diversity should be nipped in the bud, before it has a chance to damage the way we objectivly view, theorise and criticise an object of the creative process.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:09 pm
Post Re: Does the West care about Indian movies?
Dragonbeard wrote:
To me, a movie is a movie; there should be no divide based on it's country of origin.


What he said.

As the creator and lead critic for a site dedicated to reviewing solely foreign films, I'm ashamed to say that I've only seen one Indian film (Saawariya). I'm not turned off in any way; it just comes to pass that I see films from other nations first (for some odd reason, I see more Japanese films than any other). But I'm interested in seeing Indian movies just as I am in seeing the latest import from France or South Korea. It's all up to how good the film itself looks, not where it came from.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:15 pm
Post Re: Does the West care about Indian movies?
Hey Amar,I am an Indian(from Bombay) and its great to see someone from your country having the same taste as you do(I remember someone else from India as well).
I think you make a valid point and though I only watch hindi movies,I can understand the pain when the actual artsy good ones are completely overshadowed by bollywood crap but then what can you say...thats the mentality of most of the people.
I remember watching saransh(anupam kher) and being blown away by his performance and then started discovering hidden gems from other 'artsy' actors like naseeruddin shah and om puri and the likes and what a collection they have man!!!
Thankfully the situation is changing a bit with artsy fare and good actors like rahul bose(although I do hear he's sold out...lol) and abhay deol but it still has some way to go.
The 50's through 70's were the best time for serious Indian cinema I feel,I mean even mainstream actors back then did quality work.It all changed wit the 80's and over the top cheesiness,the 90's only made it worse.Thats the biggest problem man....to be an actor you dont need talent and passion,you need family lineage,dancing ability and 6 pack abs(latest fad).
I hope it changes for the better although me and my mates have a great time watching Bollywood movies and laughing at them,trust me some cheesy 80's/90's flick and glass of vodka,add a tad of mithun and govinda and I am in heaven.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:09 am
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