Thursday, September 4, 2008

Could Bollywood be Hollywood, c. 1929?

Hollywood makes about 100 films per year (not that many, when you think about it). Indian cinema makes about 800.

Why that disparity? The obvious argument is cultural differences regarding film, but "cultural differences" is the Mother Goose of cross-cultural interaction: there's a lot hidden under the skirt.

Over at Big Picture, Ed Epstein writes that flapper-era Hollywood once had an output similar to Bollywood's. They used to make more than 700 films a year in 1929. Epstein kind of glosses over the next bit, saying "Today, in a world with television, video, the Internet, and other home diversions, weekly average movie attendance is [less than it was]."

The media revolution in India is proceeding apace. Almost every major US media family has a toehold there, that's in addition to the established media groups that served the market before. Does this mean that once India becomes "a world with television, video, the Internet..." etc (what Epstein might mean is that once the media environment fragments like it did in the United States) people in India might watch less Bollywood than before?

It's hard to imagine an India where every household doesn't have Aishwarya Rai hanging over the door, but this is the India that might one day evolve.

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