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Bollywood: For taking India to the world

'Bollywood is like homemade food you can't live without'

August 20, 2008

Author Anupama Chopra on the culture and religion that is Bollywood.

Bollywood is not just a style of filmmaking, it is actually a whole culture. A religion. The way it dictates so many things like our dress code, language and also reflects the morality of the time.

It dictates our social and moral codes and therefore it is critical. What is more interesting is that Hindi film is a link between cinema and its audience. It has not diluted even if the audience is living in another country or is many generation away from India. There are second and third generation Indians who are besotted with Bollywood, even though they can't speak Hindi.

Bollywood cinema is a pan Indian popular culture that we are left with. It has immense reach, for instance I know how Germans are seduced with Bollywood. The book that I wrote about Shah Rukh Khan and Indian cinema is now been translated into Polish and Indonesian languages.

These are things I could have not even had imagined but they want it because they are watching Hindi films. It is not only diluting minds within India but is diluting boundaries internationally.

I think it helps all of us to connect in a certain way. There are thousands of Web sites devoted to Bollywood film stars. There are communities of the most disparate people. So it is connecting very different kind of people from different cultures.

Bollywood fashion is copied in a big way. Cinema has been a trendsetter in our country long before fashion shows became big. Ages ago we were copying Sadhana in the 1960s for her fringes and the tight salwar kameez that Asha Parekh and Sharmila Tagore wore.

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Now it dictates lingo too like in Munnabhai. During an India-Pakistan match, there was a Pakistani holding a placard after Inzamam-ul Haq got out, calling him 'Inzamam mamu.' Not only has it transcended local boundaries but has travelled far.

I cannot imagine an India without Bollywood. Bollywood is cheesy, gaudy -- but it is still a completely unique and brilliant form of story telling. The reason it has existed so long and flourished is because it tells stories uniquely and it is our way of telling stories.

No matter how much we watch Hollywood and no matter how brilliant Dark Knight is, we still want to know which is the next Shah Rukh Khan film and what Singh is Kinng is all about because it is just like homemade food, you can't live without it.

Anupama Chopra is the author of Sholay: The Making of a classic; Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the seductive world of Indian cinema. She spoke to Patcy N. Image: Amitabh Bachchan and other Bollywood stars perform in the US on their current world tour. Photographs: Paresh Gandhi

Also read: The best of Bollywood

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