Jai Jo: Bollywood v Hollywood

Having fallen in love with India completely and all its cultures, landscapes, food and people it was time to follow my heart and fall 'in love' in India too.

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Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai and Hollywood actor Bruce Willis
Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai and Hollywood actor Bruce Willis

After a brief visit home, I had packed for the second time and bid fair well to my family, friends, job and home for the next year not knowing what lay ahead or how the next 12 months of my tourist visa would treat me.

Living in India is definitely different; now that I am in a relationship with an Indian man but more on that later.

As time has went on I have started to look at the culture and how it influences the sexes. Never have I been in a country where fame, cinema and super stars influence its audience so obviously and so adamantly.

From cricket stars to Bollywood actors and actresses, people in India adore and almost worship these icons. Conversations regularly involve new movie launches or the most recent cricket match so I had a lot of homework to do when I arrived.

A gang of us decided to go to the movies one night and I was stunned by the movie complexes they have in Chennai. The sheer volume of theatres and the ornate modern décor of each and every one of them was completely unexpected and again a massive contrast to the streets outside. The cinema snacks were so cheap and each ticket to see the most modern movies from the UK and USA cost the equivalent of £1.20 per ticket.

I have now experienced both English speaking movies in Chennai as well as movies in local dialect - Tamil...what a huge difference!

The heroes within a Tamil movie are old rugged slightly over weight men who not only seem to move in slow motion but kick everyone's ass single handed. They do this as they dance to the most dainty of love songs, and I had to bite my lip to not laugh. I did, however, thoroughly enjoyed the vibrancy and enthusiasm of the jam packed audience. Whenever the main star (male) appeared on stage, there was a cheer and roar as loud as if at a concert which I couldn't understand but went along with anyway.

The female lead was stunningly beautiful, shy, coy and in need of rescuing (pass the bucket), and every time she appeared on screen birds would actually fly into the sky from behind her! I kid you not! Just like a Disney movie. But who am I to judge this type of cinematography it was fun, colourful and despite not understanding a single word very easy to understand the plot.

I later learned that every Tamil movie has the same story line, characters and dances and I thought to myself I can't imagine Bruce Willis wearing his trademark white vest, beating all the enemies, and dancing and singing all in the same movie.

On a more serious note, is this billion dollar business in Bollywood providing the best representation of real life to India's youth? Should women remain submissive and helpless while the men seek the glory and are crowned hero in every movie? This innocence is transferred onto TV in India also…any sexual content or rude word is dubbed or simply cut out of any programme or movie.

Men have to be REAL men and women have to be PROPER women - men must fight, be romantic gods and worshipped by all while women must be beautiful, wholesome and talented at all times...is this the same as our view on fame in the west? Is it worse? Is it the correct message to India's youth? Or is it simply a form of entertainment that is just different to how we know it?

Maybe I am over-thinking it. I mean, who cares when the popcorn is only a £1 and the cream buns in the theatre are so tasty.

Arts and Entertainment

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