Consumption of Bollywood Movies among second-generation Indian-Americans

Published: 19 January 2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/zznmjvrbsp.1
Contributor:
Pardhu Pinnamshetty

Description

The data was collected among second-generation Indian Americans aged between 18-26 to understand how they interpret Bollywood movies they watch. Diaspora and Bollywood share a peculiar relationship since diaspora uses Bollywood movies to connect to the homeland. The findings show that there are both similarities and dissimilarities in the ways second-generation audiences consume Bollywood in comparison to first-generation audiences. In many ways their readings are contradictory. However, such contradictory readings persist due to their multiple positionalities they occupy in relation to the cross cultural influences in their lives. While they are nostalgic about their Indianness that was portrayed in Bollywood movies of the 90s, they were also subjected to criticism on how they portrayed women. Today's movies received acclaim for their effort towards addressing problems in the way gender was dealt previously, these audiences believe there is certain loss of authenticity in movies of today. Data was collected using telephonic interviews. Snowball and purposive sampling was used to reach out to those audiences who frequently watched Bollywood movies. The interview schedule was semi-structured and the questions tried to bring out the interpretations of the respondents regarding how gender is portrayed in Bollywood movies from the recent past. This is including but not limited to notions of attractiveness, gender roles, and gender stereotypes. Respondents were asked to reflect on what they think are commonplace characteristics of a hero and a heroine in Bollywood movies and how the interaction between the two genders plays out. Specific examples of instances from recent movies are used to help respondents to engage with the question in a well-rounded fashion while being wary of any impulses to lead them on.

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The diasporic reception of Bollywood movies was studied to understand the popularity of Bollywood movies by examining the relationship between diaspora and Bollywood at the consumption end. The focus thus becomes on meaning-making at the reception end as opposed to production of meaning. In this globalised media economy, Bollywood, and other such cultural forms, help diaspora maintain its ties with the homeland. However, the way Bollywood movies are consumed and the meanings it held for the consumers for changed over generations.While the first generation diasporic audience watches Bollywood movies for escaping into a world of nostalgia, imaginatively visiting their homelands, the study aims to understand what imperatives second-generation carries in their minds while watching Bollywood movies. As soon as the interview was conducted, I transcribed the recorded telephonic conversation. As the transcribing took place, additional clarifications were sought over email or a brief follow-up telephonic conversation. Once the transcriptions were done, the stage was set for axial and open coding (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Axial and open coding was done to understand and club the kind of reactions they have given to each aspect of the gendered portrayal of male and female leads in Bollywood movies. Scope and limit of our research methodology make it amply clear that the pronouncements of this work cannot claim to be representative of even those who share similar social location- class, gender, educational attributes- with the respondents, least of all the whole of Indian-American diaspora. Within the constraints of time and economic resources, this work only sought to make an intervention into our understanding of the diasporic consumption of media and the negotiation of heir relationship with India and Indianness. The caveat being that this speaks only of the interpretations and concerns of particular people i.e respondents of the interviews conducted for this work acting only to push us towards a more holistic and comprehensive understanding of the many consumption practices of Indian diaspora and highlight a few of the many ways in which Bollywood is understood by diasporic communities.