Bollywood and Its Global Impact

By Dr Ouma Seebaluck

India’s film industry, popularly known as Bollywood, is the largest in the world, with production of films in more than 20 languages going up to over 2000 films annually. The Economic Diplomacy Division of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs estimates its valuation in 2018 at around US$2.5 billion, and that is expected to grow to US$3.2 billion by 2023. The yearn for Bollywood, it says, is not recent. ‘Dharti Ke Lal’ was the first Indian film to have a commercial release overseas. It was released in the Soviet Union in 1949. ‘Aan’, was the first Indian film to have a worldwide release in 1952. With subtitles in 17 languages, the film was released in 28 countries and earned big revenue overseas.

Decades hence, Indian films continue to pull crowds around the world. Movies like ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, ‘Guide’, ‘Sholay’, ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’ to more recent films like ‘Dangal’ and ‘Uri’ reflect the aspirations of an evolving society. But more than its global outreach and commercial success, Bollywood’s impact on the lives of Indians and more across the world, especially its diaspora as well as its role as ambassador of India’s soft power have been tremendous.

This is what Dr Ouma Seebaluck has attempted to explore in her book ‘Bollywood and Its Global Impact’ launched recently. Describing herself as the grand-daughter of an Indentured labourer, born and bred in Mauritius, Ouma says she as well as most of her friends looked up to India for inspiration in every sphere of life: ‘Our main contact with the country of our forefathers was rare (during our growing up years), and our main link with ‘Mother India was through films. I grew up in Mauritius with Hindi movies and Hindi songs… Indian films forged my identity and indeed to some extent that of Mauritius itself.’

A personally rewarding experience for Ouma, ‘Bollywood and Its Global Impact’ poignantly captures, as Dr Salman Ayaz puts it, ‘the multifaceted phenomenon and global force that is Bollywood… it provides the reader with the critical insight needed to understand the relationship between Bollywood and the diaspora, its burgeoning economic and touristic appeal outside of India’.

Ouma has worked as an airline executive for over 25 years, following which she went on to do a PhD in International Studies at JMI University, New Delhi.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 15 July 2022

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