From Bombay to Bollywood: The Making of a Global Media Industry

From Bombay to Bollywood: The Making of a Global Media Industry

From Bombay to Bollywood: The Making of a Global Media Industry

From Bombay to Bollywood: The Making of a Global Media Industry

Synopsis

From Bombay to Bollywood analyzes the transformation of the national film industry in Bombay into a transnational and multi-media cultural enterprise, which has come to be known as Bollywood. Combining ethnographic, institutional, and textual analyses, Aswin Punathambekar explores how relations between state institutions, the Indian diaspora, circuits of capital, and new media technologies and industries have reconfigured the Bombay-based industry's geographic reach. Providing in-depth accounts of the workings of media companies and media professionals, Punathambekar has produced a timely analysis of how a media industry in the postcolonial world has come to claim the global as its scale of operations. Based on extensive field research in India and the U.S., this book offers empirically-rich and theoretically-informed analyses of how the imaginations and practices of industry professionals give shape to the media worlds we inhabit and engage with. Moving beyond a focus on a single medium, Punathambekar develops a comparative and integrated approach that examines four different but interrelated media industries--film, television, marketing, and digital media. Offering a path-breaking account of media convergence in a non-Western context, Punathambekar's transnational approach to understanding the formation of Bollywood is an innovative intervention into current debates on media industries, production cultures, and cultural globalization. Aswin Punathambekar is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He is the co-editor of Global Bollywood (NYU Press, 2008). In the Postmillenial Pop series

Excerpt

In May 1998, the Indian government transformed world media by granting Bombay cinema “industry” status. It was a remarkable decision, given the history of the state’s relationship with popular cinema. Even though Bombay had emerged as a major center of film production during the 1930s and 1940s, the Indian state did not regard filmmaking as an important industrial activity or as central to the project of defining national culture. As a consequence, filmmaking did not receive the concessions and support that media—including radio and television—did. Punitive taxation, licensing, and censorship codes defined the state’s approach to cinema for nearly five decades.

Ascribing industry status to filmmaking in 1998 was, at one level, an intervention in film financing. The government framed the decision as an attempt to rid the film business of “black money” (untaxed/unaccounted) as well as the involvement of the mafia/underworld, and to encourage transparent accounting practices. More broadly, this moment of reform also generated a discourse of “corporatization,” a set of changes deemed necessary for the film industry to shed its image as a dysfunctional “national” cinema and assume its place as a global media industry. Corporatizing the film business seemed all the more urgent given the phenomenal growth of other media sectors in India (television and telecommunications in particular) and the emergence of a globally competitive IT and software services sector in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad during the 1990s. Narratives of India Inc. confidently and triumphantly navigating the global economy were not lost on either the state or those in the film industry. This process of reform has by no means been smooth or uncontested. There has been much disagreement and confusion regarding the many institutional, creative, and social transitions under way within the film industry and the media industries at large in Bombay and other cities across India. And media industry professionals remain deeply ambivalent about changes that a decade of reform has wrought and what it means to adopt and perform globally recognizable practices of organization and management. This sense of uncertainty and ambivalence about “going global” notwithstanding, two things are clear.

First, the spatial coordinates and geographic reach of Bollywood have changed dramatically over the past decade. The answer to the question, “Where in the world is Bollywood?” is, to be sure, “Bombay.” However, Bombay’s emergence as a global media capital cannot be grasped without . . .

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