Battle of the ‘Woods

India, Nigeria and the United States are the three largest film industries in the world. Why is it that we only hear about Hollywood? Is the production rate of Bollywood and Nollywood too fast so citizens of the world can’t keep up? Does the lack of production money reflect on the final product? Hollywood, for me and a large variety of individuals, is the be all and end all of film industries. So often stories are passed around about their experience walking the star studded pathways of Hollywood, California, trying with all their might to spot the newest and highly talked about film stars.

Bollywood is often overlooked by the Western culture but as globalisation continues to spread, many Hollywood films are taking inspiration from the Hindi cinema. This cultural hybridity can be seen in James Cameron’s film Avatar. We’ve all seen it, but how many of us stopped to think where the concept came from? Not once did I think that this highly distopic film was in any way influenced by the highly glitzy and glamorous ways of Bollywood. Cameron himself has described the meaning of the film as  “It’s an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods taking a flesh form.” David J. Schaefer from Franciscan University of Steubenville and Kavita Karan from Southern Illinois University have citied the works of many explaining the link between Avatar and Bollywood.

James Cameron's Avatar (2009)
James Cameron’s Avatar (2009)

The blue colouring of the skin of the Na’vi characters symbolises the colours traditionally used for religious avatars Rama and Krishna (Jain, 2005). Hindi elements were also sprinkled through the story line, with a heavy focus on Ramayana. The plot of the story;an avatar-led battle against foreign invaders, showcases the Indian political tradition (Mishra, 2002). One of the most significant Bollywood references is one of the more important themes explored throughout the film. The motif of ‘seeing as understanding’ , quite similar to the Hindu concept of ‘darshan’, or the principle of seeing and being seen by the deities in order to receive blessings (Chatterjee, 2005).

Nollywood is the third largest film industry in the world. These films, emerging in the early 1990’s are a mixture of melodrama and magical culture, with corruption being a main motif used throughout. The Nigerian film industry receives no funding from the government, so everything is fairly low budget and quickly edited. All Nollywood films are made direct to video for a number of reasons. Due to the high rates of crime, films are never screened in movie theatres, leaving individuals to watch them from the safety of their homes. Another reason for Nollywood films to be direct to video is the reduction of funds. This allows the film makers to spend extra money on other departments, such as the editing stage.

After researching the global film industry, it is apparent that Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood can work together and influence each other while still remaining as separate entities.  As globalisation continues to develop, the film industry is going to be taken to places that we can not even begin to imagine.

  • Chatterjee, G, 2005, ‘Icons and Events: Reinventing Visual Construction in Cinema in India, in R. Kuar and A. Sinha (eds) Bollywood: Popular Indian Cinema Through a Transnational Lens, pp. 90-117. New Delhi: Sage
  • Jain, K (2005) ‘Figures of Locality and Tradition: Commercial cinema and the networks of visual print capitalism in Maharashtra’ in R. Kuar and A. Sinha Bollywood: Popular Indian Cinema Through a Transnational Lens, pp 312
  • Mishra, V. (2002) Bollywood Cinema: Temples of  Desire. London: Routledge. pp 312
  • Schaefer, D & Karan, K (2010) “Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows” pp 309-314



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