The White Bollywood

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From Raja Harishchandra (1913) to The Good Road (2013), the cinema of India, an extremely important part of our cultural identity celebrating its centenary this year. Has been working as an ambassador of India to a global audience since the day of its inception. In India, it is often seen that films made in Hindi targeted at a larger audience, commonly known as mainstream movies or Bollywood films, employ a different grammar of filmmaking than that is used in so-called sensible or parallel cinema while representing or portraying different aspects and sections of society, race, culture, gender and class. In this paper, I try to focus on the representations of Caucasian characters, or the white, in popular Hindi cinema, or Bollywood films, and try to assess how they are introduced, perceived and represented, how they are important to the narrative, whether or how tenets of cultural hegemony applies to them and how they are received by the audience.

With a rich cultural heritage, born and developed, probably, out of a slow but steady process of acculturation through millennia, India is truly a global melting pot with a million stories to tell, and Bollywood films, one of our most fervent, if not the most accurate, storytellers. Gaston Roberge, on the impact of films on society, says:

You cannot transform the world by means of filmmaking, but you certainly can transform the representations of the world through film (Roberge 3).

A long colonial past and a mixed socio-economic existence of people nurture the legacy of multilingualism and multiculturalism in our country. If films are to be taken as dioramas of the society in a larger sense, the frequent and prominent appearance of Western characters (to be precise, characters belong...

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...e in the end, that in matters of portraying non-Indian, white characters in Bollywood films, clichés have prevailed for long, but not without the glimmer of hope for something new, something empowering – for the texts, and for the readers.

Works Cited

Chakravarty, Sumita. “Teaching Indian Cinema.” Cinema Journal, Vol. 47, No. 1. 2007. Print.

Dwyer, Rachel. 100 Bollywood Films. New Delhi: Roli Books, 2007. Print.

Gehlawat, Ajay. Reframing Bollywood. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2010. Print.

Jaikumar, Priya. “Bollywood Spectaculars.” World Literature Today, Vol. 77, No. 3/4 (Oct. - Dec., 2003). Print.

Lal, Vinay, and Ashis Nandy, eds. Fingerprinting Popular Culture. New Delhi: OUP, 2008. Print.

Roberge, Gaston. The Subject of Cinema. Calcutta: Seagull, 2005. Print.

Virdi, Jyotika. The Cinematic ImagiNation. Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2011. Print.
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