In the West, Bollywood has now become a proper proper noun.india Updated: Jan 27, 2003 23:00 IST
Bloomsbury, one of the UK’s most respected publishers, has commissioned a young researcher called Jessica Hines to do a biography of Amitabh Bachchan.
In their recently released book Cinema India (Oxford University Press; Rs 650), Rachel Dwyer, an academic at the London-based School of Oriental and African Studies, and Divya Patel have examined the impact of visuals in Bollywood.
The book trade is buzzing with Bollywood; it is introducing aspects of India’s most pervasive – and persuasive – pop culture into the corridors of mainstream academia.
The attention and the respectability that Bollywood had begun to garner in the West when Lagaan had had a crack at the Oscars last year has turned into a huge groundswell of popular support for and interest in the cinema that has sustained and defined India for so many years. (I know you — all of you Ray and Gopalakrishnan and Ghatak fans — don’t think Bollywood defines Indian cinema but it does to the masses within and outside the country. I’m a huge Ray fan — I could quote the screenplay from Kanchenjungha if you would let me — but my likes or dislikes don’t have much to do with what is.)
As part of the growing body of evidence, examine the following. Devdas was premiered at Cannes last year and is hoping to do next month what Lagaan couldn’t last time: win an Oscar. In May 2002, Vanity Fair magazine, in its inimitable, ironic manner, nominated Bollywood as the ‘Pretentious Film Snob Reference of the Month’. The London department store Selfridges organised a Bollywood week last summer. And towards the end of last year, the New York Film Festival saluted one of our greatest actresses, Shabana Azmi.
And all that is merely the tip of the iceberg.