Fortunately or unfortunately, Bollywood is key in defining Indian culture. When I meet new people (who are not Indian, obviously), they always ask me if I watch Bollywood films and if I can dance like the actors can. Of course I can — I am Indian. Duh! I have even, on popular demand but to my own horror, given Bollywood dance classes in my home.
I have to admit though, that I started appreciating the Indian film industry more when I moved out of India and have been especially drawn to it since I moved to Spain. Its tremendous ability to bring me back home is the main reason as it inadvertently takes me back to my roots and reminds me of who I am. Yup, the power of Bollywood films.
Although the local public generally loves Bollywood in India, we (especially the “westernized” youth of India) often tend to ridicule it and it is not uncommon to be embarrassed by what it portrays about us and our country. Only a handful of Bollywood films are worth applause; others are mostly melodramatic and unrealistic to the point of being ludicrous.
So when I heard that a Bollywood film school is planned for the UK (later in Durban and Sydney) in an attempt to build strong ties between Britain and India, first it made no sense to me but after a bit of thought I realized that it’s a great way to get foreigners and Indians born abroad involved in a genre of film-making that opens doors deep into our culture.
The Mumbai-based Bollywood film industry is the largest in the world and all of a sudden I have newfound respect for it as it will play a key role in internationally sharing our culture as well as giving people an opportunity to delve right in and be part of the Bollywood bang.