In my younger days, I traveled through remote parts of rural China with a group of buddies. Villagers everwhere asked my Mandarin-speaking traveling companions a favor: "Kindly ask the Indian girl to sing and dance for us immediately." The motivation behind their invitation was common to scores of people outside America -- an addiction to movies exported from India. Bombay makes 1,200 movies a year; Hollywood only produces 450. A great article by Joanna Connors, film critic for The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, sums up why even Americans are choosing to watch films that are Bollywood-esque in character:
These days, the (Hollywood) film industry wants us to go out on a Saturday night date, have a nice dinner and then settle back to ponder the grave and depressing issues of modern life. If we all go home with suicidal impulses, they figure their job is done. While Hollywood was taking care of that task, however, it appears that one more all-American enterprise was quietly outsourced to India: over-the-top, pure escapist entertainment. Or, if you prefer, Bollywood movies.After mentioning Bend It Like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Vanity Fair, Connor ends the article by describing one of my all-time favorite flicks, Monsoon Wedding, produced in 2001 by filmmaker Mira Nair:
The romantic comedy bubbles and overflows with characters and plotlines like a towering champagne fountain at a wedding reception. The movie takes place during the four days leading up to a huge Punjabi wedding, and Nair plunges the audience into the thick of things, where we can observe the swirl of secrets and complications that inevitably ensue when families reunite. Nair uses nearly all of the Bollywood conventions in the movie, not least the monsoon rains of the title. But rain is not the only element drenching the proceedings. Joy saturates the movie, too, in abundance. So does color. And music. And dancing. And romance. Sounds more inviting than racism, corruption, terrorism and censorship, no?I think so. And apparently, so do most people on the planet. Wake up, Hollywood!