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Cultural Representation in Bollywood Essay (Critical Writing)


This essay is focused on understanding and bringing out the role played by Bollywood with respect to globalization. The main area that has been focused on is how Bollywood has responded to the global flow of cultures and people by means of constructing various narratives of family, displacement, race, citizenship, belonging and home.

Bollywood is the Indian film and movie industry’s’ nickname as it is known all over the world. It is also as popular as Hollywood and has a large target market in the middle east, Europe, Hong Kong, Britain and even Africa. Moreover, Bollywood has outdone Hollywood in the number of movies produced per year. “For hundreds of millions of fans around the world it is Bollywood and not Hollywood that spins their screen fantasies” (Mazumdar et al, 2000).

For the reasons of having a universal presence and following, it is why a lot of interest has developed as to what role Bollywood has played in displaying complex issues of socio-economic, political and cultural nature. Movies and cinemas have played a major role in relaying messages, ideas and informative information on a global scale.

Globalization of media is the creation of a universal space which is an electronic, disinterred and a space in which boundaries and frontiers have been made permeable. Movies and cinema have played a very crucial role in the globalization of culture as well as capital. This has been done by integrating a few movies and articles so as to help bring out Bollywood’s contribution to these issues at hand.

The movies are; Mississippi Masala, a movie about a romantic relationship involving an Indian woman and an African American man and Kal Ho Naa Ho a movie about an angry young woman whose father commits suicide and leaves her mother struggling to raise the children alone.

Immigration and change of nationality was acceptable from way back in the days as we have seen from the Mississippi Masala movie, where we are informed about a woman who migrated to London, England with her family and eventually decided to change her Indian passport with a British one and met and fell in love with a man by the name of John Foran who also had two children namely Cerina, who was a girl and Amal who was a boy, to whom neither the woman gave birth to.

Political struggles, race, gender nationality and even sexuality were basically static though they knew that they were not. This was seen where she would go to her women’s’ meetings where all the members were white, but they never took note that she was not white. Nevertheless, where her racial identification came up as a black woman and had a big impact, was in the union that she was involved in, where the white men explicitly ran the show and used to call her names such as a petal, a flower or even a colored sister (Gossett, 1997).

This shows just how racism and anti-immigrant sentiments were in some areas in addition to the sexism, the nationalism and Eurocentric continuous arguments about ‘Class’. The people thought that there were no better ways of doing politics as they kept on asking themselves, could we ever get out of our class origins?

What would the classless people look like? How did patriarchy and capitalism work together? How did migration affect class? Not because they wanted to have that seclusion, but they did not understand just how hybridism was a binding factor in their day to day lives and activities.

It however brings out the element of conflict where she was experiencing the conflicts within herself all the time because of the elements of her identity which were not neatly related to each other causing irritation and collision with each of the sides. Such as her trade union sympathies being in conflict with her feminist ones, which were in turn in conflict with what she defined as white feminism.

To her, she often looked at it as if the analysts had not drawn upon their own critical imagination whenever she read the uni-dimensional analyses. Whenever it comes to the study of philosophy, Gramsci who happens to be an author too, discusses the role of identity in the development of a world view and argues that in acquiring ones conception of the world, one always belongs to a particular grouping of social elements that share the same mode of thinking and acting. Gramsci also stated that to criticize one’s own conception of the world, it meant criticism of all previous philosophies.

However, what we get from and surprises most in Kal Naa Ho movie and differentiates it from the other neoconservative romantic movies is the way their presentations of the male sexuality is folded into, and indeed buttress, this triumphalism narrative of Indian cultural superiority, patriarchal authority and transitional mobility.

Even though it fits very well within the genre that of the neoconservative romance, it also bears traces of an earlier genre, which is that of the prototypical Bollywood movie and its particular mapping of gender and sexual arrangements. Within this genre, a triangulated relationship between the two male stars and the heroine serves to both contain and enable male homoeroticism.

The film itself follows the romantic exploits and familial relations of an Indian diasporic family in New Jersey and was a major hit both in India and in the South Asian Diaspora, where it was strenuously marketed.

Kal Ho Naa Ho is but the latest in a series of films produced in Bollywood that are set in the Diaspora or more specifically in the global cities of the North, such as New York or London. These films provide diasporic audiences with a nationalist mirror image of themselves that they in turn incorporate and consume.

The writer in these movies however plans or intends to put across that racism really does exist and shows just how it affects us in one way or another. The use of the Hindu songs in the movies is intended to promote the culture and also entertain the audience. Whereby, film makers sometimes use different races in their movies so as to show unity among different races and use positive scripts to show the audience that the different races could always mingle and work in unison without hatred.

Feminists also need to take note of the issues that are brought about by race and ethnicity which is becoming more of a central concern in our organizations, schools, estates and everywhere people meet. It is only in America where feminists have more difficulties in dealing with the issue of racism and engaging in meaningful inter-racial interaction.

As a result of feminism, discussions about race and racism do not end up in good terms, it always ends up in anger, hurt, silent treatment, yelling, withdrawal and profound belief that the opposite sides are unable to listen and learn from the other thus arguments always end up in a dead end.

Feminists tend to occupy racial hierarchies, leading to decapitation of discussions instead of moving through and beyond the anger, guilt, ignorance and silence about race and racism that are the products of power relations in the larger societies. Big differences in terms of culture and history among women who are not white have made alliances difficult which often leads to conflicts and ephemeral.

War from reasons of race, color and religion broke out and for example, the Watts uprising in 1965, the Latinos, African Americans, the Asian Americans and the Euro-American shop owners faced mobs of people who were joined together by anger, resentment and the desire, determined by the politics of race, ethnicity, class, gender and immigration. The Koreans shop owners were mainly attacked by the Latinos and black people who targeted Korea town.

However, these narratives of multiethnic, multiracial and multicultural conflicts did not render irrelevant the systematic forms of white racism against the people who were considered to be colored. The media focused on inter-racial and inter-ethnic dimensions of the uprising and focused in part of the cultural work of creating awareness of the ways the structures of white racism intensified conflict between racism and ethnicity.

Through the book “Impossible Desires”, the author gestures towards the ways in which the both nations and the Diaspora is refigured within a very queer Diasporas imagination. The author publicly sought to document challenges, conventional Diasporas and nationalists’ discourses that forget, exercise and criminalizes queer bodies, pleasures, desires, histories and lives (Sanjek, 2004).

He decides to make a movie from the book and shoots it at the apartments which he grew up in and says that every time he watched the film, it made it clearer many questions that he tried to grapple within his book. This viewing experience, revealed to him just how his home as a national and Diasporas space is continuously created and consumed within the realm of traditional public culture and understands the necessity of producing reading practices that could grasp the ever-increasing slippages and overlaps between nations and the Diaspora that characterized the realm.

There were various contributors to “All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave” (Hull et al., 1982). This made the point very powerfully, as have many other writers since then, including those in the collection “Charting the Journey”. Many writings which address these issues are by women and feminists, of color and not, living all over the world.

The author points out the anxious citations of the male homosexuality as they mark the most recent strategy though which Bollywood as a National Cinema manages queerness in the context of globalization. He argues the functions to simultaneously acknowledge contain and disavow the queerness of the male desire. By doing so, the film keeps intact the heteronormativity of the home space of the Nation.

As much as the films Diasporas characters learn to modernize Indian tradition, so that it falls in line with an entrepreneur and capitalist American ethos, the film itself references male homosexuality in increasingly explicit terms as a way of marking the increasing modernity and cosmopolitanism of Bollywood cinema.

The representation of the male sexuality is hardly at odds with the new relation between Diaspora and Nation that the film maps out but is in fact implicated deeply within it. In this case however, if the male homosexuality is not only imaginable, but even desirable within the new global landscape, queer female desires or subjectivity also exists, crucially, outside the frame of the possible.

The continuity of the impossibility and un-imaginability of queer female desire and subjectivity even as a queer male desire ascends to ever greater visibility speaks to the radically asymmetrical ways in which queer male and female bodies are constructed and disciplined within the Diasporas and nationalist discourses as they take shape on the terrain of transitional public culture.

The writer here brings about the queerness of the different sexuality of the male and the female sexuality and is not trying to hide the facts that homosexuality, which basically means people of the same sex engaging themselves in sexual activities, really does exist and existed from a very long time ago and that the people are living to accept it into their cultures. The author forgets to touch on the facts related to homosexuality and spirituality and whether it is acceptable or not.

After all is said and done, I have concluded with an undeniable fact that racism, ethnicity and homosexuality does exist and affects each and every one of us in a different way and in everything, as we have seen, there is evident consequences to every action that one chooses to do and get involved in. So it is prudent to make wise decisions to avoid disasters.


Gossett, T. (1997). Race: the history of an idea in America. London, UK: Oxford University Press.

Hull, R. Gloria T. Patricia, B. and Barbara S. (1982). All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies. Old Westbury, N.Y: The Feminist Press.

Mazumdar,S & Power,C.(2000). Bollywood goes global. Newsweek International, 52.

Sanjek, R. (2004). Race. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

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1. IvyPanda. "Cultural Representation in Bollywood." March 30, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-representation-in-bollywood/.


IvyPanda. "Cultural Representation in Bollywood." March 30, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-representation-in-bollywood/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Cultural Representation in Bollywood." March 30, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-representation-in-bollywood/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Cultural Representation in Bollywood'. 30 March.

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