Bollywood has been generating a lot of interest; not just within the Indian society, but also from the international community since the industry began to bring the Indian culture into our consciousness.
For a few years now, in particular, the industry has stepped squarely into the limelight as the largest movie industry in the world volume. But since movies are a veritable way of showcasing a people’s cultural ways, questions have been asked as to how culturally relevant Bollywood is to the Indian people.
In this article, we look at the cultural importance of Bollywood to the Indian people.
The emotional bridges it has constructed with India for people of many races, nationalities, and languages, as well as the way it has made them feel deeply linked with the Indian worldview and way of life, albeit in caricature form, are among Bollywood's most important cultural contributions.
Bridging the Generation Gap
While Bollywood has been relentless in promoting the value of stable and harmonious families as a characteristic of Indian culture, it has also been staunch in addressing intergenerational disputes in values and goals. Rather than a breakdown or nuclearization of the family, our filmmakers are fascinated with resolving such disagreements in a way that leads to greater understanding and peace in the larger family. Young people are encouraged to rebel against parental oppression, but they are not encouraged to shirk their duty for providing care and respect to their parents and other seniors.
Traditional and Modern Side-by-side
Bombay films, both traditional and modern, have become the emotional staple of many communities becoming "westernized" and "modernized" without being comfortable with it. They're popular because they don't merely capitalize on people's fears. They always try to resolve these tensions and show a world in which a happy equilibrium is attainable, if certain "eternal" basic values are preserved, ideals that allow for a healthy, creative relationship with tradition while incorporating modernity in proper proportions. Bollywood's success stems from the fact that it appears to provide a viable alternative to a narcissistic form of individualism that is all too common to western civilization.
While Bollywood frowns on mindless modernism, it strongly advocates for a healthy dosage of it if we are to progress.
India can be adored or despised, a source of devotion or scorn. But there isn't a single Indian who is uninterested in or ambivalent about our country. A common adage goes, "You can take Indians out of India, but you can't take India out of Indians." No matter how far they move away, most people of Indian ancestry who have lived in other countries remain enamored with India. This involvement can take many forms; for example, some people express their shock and anger at the rampant corruption, inefficiency, and lack of will to put things right. Others make a living out of criticizing the country's many actual and imagined flaws; while others become rabid apologists.
For those that are truly Indian at heart; there are certainly no doubts whatsoever as to the importance and impact Bollywood has had on their cultural attachment to the country. For those in the diaspora especially; Bollywood movies have provided the much-needed checks and balances for what would otherwise be a mindless adoption of the West’s perspective of ‘Modernization’ which threatens to erode their cultural values as it did to many others leading to a regretful loss of cultural identity.
Similarly, it has also provided the much-needed communal anchor that those living outside the geographical boundaries of the nation of India need to continue to represent their nation collectively as Indians irrespective of where they live.
Love it or hate it, Bollywood is central to the people’s achievement of cultural identity. And while some may criticize the depth of their storytelling and stereotype it as lateral; there is no denying that for those who are Indians or even those who are not, Bollywood holds the key to Indian cultural relevance, both at home and in the diaspora.
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Aug 09, 2021
by Eguaogie Eghosa