Bollywood has, in recent years, touched on sensitive and taboo topics such as homosexuality and inter-religious marriage, something that was unheard of in the early years of the Indian entertainment industry. The showcasing of such topics by Bollywood has triggered a wave of change in Indian culture, which in response has gradually embraced polarizing issues that were originally punishable by law. As an example, people in India are becoming more open about their sexuality after being inspired to do so by their favorite actors.
This goes to show how Bollywood has influenced Indian culture as a whole. As the world’s largest entertainment industry, it was always expected that Bollywood would have an impact on some aspects of Indian culture but it has become apparent that the industry has shaped the cultural landscape of the country entirely. Some films have ignited political tensions in the country while others have inspired people to get along regardless of class in the caste-based society.
Fashion, Music and Dance
The effects of Bollywood have been arguably most profound in the fashion industry. The A-list actors and actresses are usually used as brand ambassadors by major fashion houses. One of the earliest examples of film inspiring a fashion culture in India is the Mughal-e-Azam, a film that was released in the mid-20th Century. This film is fondly remembered for introducing the “anarkali kameez” attire, a dressing style that is celebrated all over India to this day.
Dancing and music are almost synonymous with Bollywood films, with there being few films in which music and dancing are not featured. The dancing routines found in Bollywood films are tremendously popular among the youth in India, who prefer these dance styles to western and traditional dances. Indians living in foreign countries rely on Bollywood films to know what the latest dancing styles is back at home.
The political sphere of Indian culture is another area where Bollywood’s influence has been most felt. The industry is known for coming up with films that address the political atmosphere of the country. In this regard, a film like “Deewaar” comes to mind. This legendary underworld crime film was released in the 1970s at a time when poverty was on an upward trajectory in India and depicted the realities faced by the poor in the society. The film attracted commendation and wrath in equal measure but was, nonetheless, cited as a voice of the downtrodden in Indian society of the time.
The effects have not all been positive, with critics claiming that many Bollywood films patronize patriarchy and resultantly, the suppression of women, which they say is evident in the objectification of female actresses in Bollywood. Such critics point out that female actress are, in many instances, given decorative roles in films.
Effect of Globalization
Globalization is a theme that has featured prominently in many Bollywood releases since the dawn of the entertainment industry, and with it has been the proliferation of western culture in India. While this has been well-received by many of Bollywood’s younger fans, some see this as the glorification of western culture which, they claim, would see people look down on traditional Indian culture.