Bollywood Influence


“Contra-flows are shifting the direction of cultural influence to the Global South and blurring the boundaries between the modern and the traditional, the high and low culture, and the national and the global culture” (Thussu 2006)

Many films are seeing an increase in the high influence that culture now takes in global film. The most common and highest grossing cultural film are ones that feature Indian and Chinese culture. Indian member of Parliament, Jairam Ramesh, coined the term ‘Chindia’ in 2006 to refer to the cooperation between the two countries.

There can be quite a mix up between what films are Bollywood and what are Bollywood inspired films. For instance, some may view Bride and Prejudice (2004) as a Bollywood movie due to its bright colours, dance sequences and constant singing. This type of film is more of a sub-genre than just plain Bollywood. Its influence from Jane Austen’s British novel Pride and Prejudice (1813) is what separates it from traditional Bollywood. The film is an appropriation of the book therefore still containing Western influences. It was also shot in the UK and some parts were filmed in LA and the dialogue is all in English which separates it from traditional Bollywood. With the many appropriations and cultural influenced films Eastern and Western countries are making, they are slowly starting to become one big cultural film. Many movie novices like to put cultural films in to genres. This can be seen clearly in Slumdog Millionaire (2008). The film is set in India, therefore people class it as Bollywood, which it isn’t. The film was directed by a British man by the name of Danny Boyle and written by Simon Beaufoy who is also British. The dialogue is in English and it has Western influence of media with the plot revolving around Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Both of these films were very successful in Western countries and sparked a major increase in the production of Indian inspired films like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and The Life of Pi (2012).

Then we have movies that have Indian influences like Avatar (Cameron 2009). A lot of influence in this film comes from Indian mythology. Schaefer (2010) explains many instances in the film where this occurs including:

  • the blue skin colour of the Na’vi people are used for depicting religious avatars Rama and Krishna
  • the plot of the avatars fighting against foreign invaders mimics a traditional Indian storyline called ‘Ramayana- it details an epic battle between a Prince and a demon
  • the Na’vi’s are referred to as ‘blue monkeys’ which in the Ramayana story, the monkey army helps the Prince defeat the foreigners
  • the reliance of bows and arrows to the Na’vi which were the same weapons used by the Prince and his army

Until I read the readings or went to the lecture I had no idea of these influence. I’m sure there would be plenty of other films like Avatar where Eastern cultural influences are very carefully, and to the public, very unknowingly used.


Avatar 2009, film, 20th Century Fox, USA, directed by James Cameron

Bride and Prejudice 2004, film, Miramax films, UK, directed by Gurinder Chadha

Schaefer, D, Karan, K 2010, ‘Problematizing Chindia : Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communication,  Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 309-316

Slumdog Millionaire 2008, film, Fox Searchlight Pictures, India, directed by Danny Boyle

Thussu, D.K 2006, International Communication: Continuity and Change, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, New York

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