Hindi Cinema: Special, Enthralling and Weird as Well! – 2
India’s Soft Power
Along with a country’s financial capability, defence power, geographical importance, its soft power is gaining importance. A Political Analyst from Harvard University, Joseph S. Nye first introduced the concept of Soft Power. A country can set up its own image at an international platform through its unique culture, traditions, expertise from the field of sports, literature and arts. It is regarded as “Soft Power”.
Hosting Beijing Olympics and Kung Fu could be regarded as symbols of creation of Soft Power. Hollywood is an integral part of Soft Power of America. It is because people have accepted the image of America and they tour America after viewing Hollywood movies. If one understands that then one can recognize a place where India’s Soft Power lies.
There is a large population outside India who decides on their image of India after watching Bollywood films in their respective country of residence. The movies which are called Masala movies consisting of song, dance and emotions, touch a chord deep inside the audience outside India.
Shashi Tharoor once on national television narrated a story of a young man he met in New York. Mother of this young man from Africa travels to the city once a month from Senegal and watches a Hindi movie in a theatre. She enjoys the song and dance from that movie just like we do. She neither knows Hindi nor does she know English to read the subtitles. In spite of that she understands the story line and she enjoys that. Watching a Hindi movie has become a need of this woman.
The response enjoyed by a Hindi movie abroad is not a new phenomenon. Even today, people from Russia hum the song “Awara Hoon.” Shammi Kapoor is a favourite star in the Middle East. However, the number of Hindi movie fans abroad has increased geometrically and the impact of Hindi movies has also increased tremendously. India has begun to enjoy immense political and strategic push through this.
Several analysts claim that Bollywood has brought much needed visibility for India. Whatever visibility that India enjoys by showcasing Hindi cinema abroad, could not have been achieved by talking about India’s multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious aspect of society. It could not have been achieved by talking about its democracy or rich, ancient cultural heritage. It has been fairly easy to achieve that by showcasing Indian cinema abroad.
Depiction of Pakistan’s Love and Hate
Bollywood movies do massive business abroad but more than that it is important to know that they spread Indian culture abroad. An analyst had advised Pakistan not to compete with India on the topic of Soft Power. He had said that it is one up on China as well. India’s soft power is created by movies from Bollywood.
Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman are extremely popular in India despite their religion. Being a Muslim is a proof enough that there is no religious discrimination in India. Indian cinema spreads this message across the globe with much ease. A story line of a Hindi movie comprises of aspects from Indian culture, family system, values and ethos from India, traditional music, festivals and fashion. It creates a big impact on audience from outside India. The foreign audience is mesmerized by the colours used in an Indian film.
Once upon a time India was known as a country of jugglers with snakes. Some of the movies regarded as Art movies depicted immense poverty in India. This depiction could have been deliberate or otherwise as well. However, the impact it created was certainly negative for India’s image abroad. India is not out of the clutches of poverty. However, the world came to know that besides poverty, India has many things to offer. There are some pseudo intellectuals who claim that it is not an authentic depiction of India. However, if one were to consider at a transactional level the political and strategic importance of creating a certain image of India, one would know the contribution of Indian films towards this.
There is a massive resistance for Indian movies and Indian music. The staunch activists in Pakistan criticise India by saying that Indian movies are destroying Pakistan by spreading Indian culture through Indian movies. Some have taken up as their personal aim to stop screening Indian movies in Pakistan. Even though Indian films are not released in Pakistan, through DVDs, Indian cinema has reached every household in Pakistan. People enjoy viewing them in the comfort of their home.
Indian films have begun to welcome Singers, musicians and actors from Pakistan in Indian movies. Some of the extremists from Pakistan used to claim that by giving insignificant roles to Pakistani actors, Indian movies destroy their future. However, now an actor by the name Ali Zafar from Pakistan got an opportunity to play the hero in an Indian film. Heroines such as Zeba Bakhtiar, Meera along with Veena Malik, Monalisa have also got an opportunity to act in Hindi Movies. All the upcoming stars from Pakistan say that for each of them getting an opportunity to act in Hindi movies is a dream come true. Pakistani audience feel proud of them if these actors get an opportunity to act in Hindi films.
These extremists have begun to realize that even if one were to attempt to strengthen the animosity with India, it is virtually impossible to snap the umbilical chord between Pakistani audience and Indian movies. They have accepted their defeat. There is a lot of commonality between Pakistani and Indian culture and that is the truth behind a sense of affiliation Pakistani audience feels with Indian movies. Therefore these extremists fear that the feeling of animosity about India could die down in Pakistan. They also fear that it would also shut them up. Is it not enthralling to witness the challenge that Indian movies have given these extremists?
Impact and Implications of Hindi Movies
Probably the film makers themselves may not know the impact of the cinema they make. Few years ago, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Ms. Helen Clark was visiting Mumbai. She had come down to felicitate director Rakesh Roshan. In the year 2000, his movie “Kaho Na Pyar Hai” released and became a super duper hit. It was Hrithik Roshan’s first film. This movie was shot in New Zealand. After watching the movie, tourism in New Zealand increased many folds. Therefore, she was here to felicitate him.
There is a stiff competition between Europe, Latin America and Asian countries to induce Hindi film makers to come to their respective countries to shoot Hindi movies. Few weeks ago Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai had come to India. He invited Hindi filmmakers to come to Afghanistan to shoot Hindi movies. Many Hindi movie stars are immensely popular in Afghanistan. He felt that their popularity might help Afghanistan. He felt that showcasing them in Afghanistan will give the much needed impetus to tourism in that country.
Several political dignitaries and leaders along with leaders from Industry are now eager to meet stars from Bollywood as well. It is only because they have realized that if a movie is shot in their respective country, it is bound to help tourism in that country. Therefore, it is observed that several countries are competing with each other to give rebates to many film makers.
Fiji had declared almost 47% tax rebate for film being shot in that country. “3G” and “Warning” are two recent films which were shot in Fiji islands. Whereas “German Federal Film Fund” has declared a rebate of 20% for films which process its special effects at their studio. South Africa and Australia have declared a rebate of 30% and 40% respectively for films that are shot in those countries respectively.
Hrithik, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol’s movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” was shot in Spain. It has been brought to the notice that the tourism in Spain from India grew by 65% after the release of that film. It is because of this, the competition among countries to have Indian film maker shoot in their respective countries has intensified. As a result, countries would offer more rebates and then the cost of film would also come down. Similarly, it cannot be ruled out that as compared to Hollywood, Bollywood’s importance might grow stronger.
Indian government has entered into some contract with countries such as Britain, France, Germany, England, Italy, Spain, Poland, New Zealand and Brazil. It is because of these contracts, Indian producers have begun to find it easy to accept foreign investment. Foreign investment is on the rise in several films being made now days. Therefore, this Indian film business is not only profitable for India but also for several other countries.
To be Continued ………..
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