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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bollywood/Africa: A Divorce?



Bollywood/Africa: A Divorce?


~ By Olivier Barlet

Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood: this is a period of major maneuvers between expansionist cinemas. The more Bollywood moves away from the singing-melodramatic masala that made it so great to try to imitate and rival Hollywood formulae, the more the African public prefers Nollywood and its local productions, or the considerably more effective American action movies. And like all audiences in the world, the African public is progressively moving away from cinema to watch mass-broadcast TV serials. And this in a context in which piracy is undermining commercial distribution, which is only still keeping its head above the water in countries with large diasporan communities.

If there is a divorce between Bollywood and Africa, it is ultimately because the African public has lost interest in the films, not because they can't get to see them anymore (piracy has replaced the movie theaters). We would argue that this progressive disaffection reflects the commercial bent of a popular cinema that has thereby distanced itself from its post-colonial pertinence: in addition to the mobilization of a community around a national vision, its conception of the hero and of destiny (cf. Amithab Bachchan) was far superior to the hero in westerns. Its reworking through myths spoke to peoples who still accorded them a place of importance. Sub-Saharan audiences thus now prefer Nigerian videos that explore African societies' concerns (violence, lack of social mobility, lack of State and protection, the burden of obsolete customs, etc.) to recent Bollywood productions, which, as highly professional as they may be, are at times astonishingly dumb. And, in the field of action movies, Hollywood professionalism continues to outstrip the rest of the planet.

It is thus on the ideological terrain and in the autonomy of imaginations that competition lies. We often underestimate the public: it determines its tastes and choices according to what moves it, what deeply animates it. Special effects are only fascinating for a moment. If Bollywood wants to strike up a chord in African hearts again, it no doubt needs to think less of markets and more of its own society's relation to the world.


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14 Jun 2012
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13:30 The Future of Media Relations: APO Releases Video Infographics on Online Press Conferencing and Interactive Webcast
11:58 Nigeria: Attacks against Christians, escalation since 2011 – Italy speaks out for religious freedom in the EU and UN
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09:00 Dialogue for Action Africa Opens in Gabon
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18:48 Platts: OPEC Crude Oil Production Rose to 31.75 Million Barrels Per Day in May
11:43 COMMUNIQUE OF THE ECOWAS COMMISSION ON THE SITUATION IN MALI
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16:09 Le Africa CEO Forum, le forum africain des chefs d'entreprise est lancé aux Assemblées de la BAD à Arusha
16:03 The Africa CEO Forum launched at the AfDB Annual Meetings in Arusha




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