But Bollywood isnÃÂt just a style of filmmaking. It is also a culture and a religion. Hindi films dictate dress codes, language, rituals, and aspirations for both the Silicon Valley software engineer and the villager in IndiaÃÂs most backward state, Bihar. Technology has helped to spread the Bollywood cult. DVD, satellite, and the Internet have cultivated fans even in countries where Hindi films are not distributed.
In South Korea, a curious ritual plays out weekly. A group calling themselves the Bollywood Lovers Club gathers to watch Hindi movies, which they themselves have painstakingly subtitled in Korean. They watch, in the club leader Kwanghyun JungÃÂs words, in ÃÂIndian style.ÃÂ That is, they ÃÂmake noise, laugh, and abuse the villain.ÃÂ The club also runs Bollywood dance classes. Some of the 7,000-odd members wear Shah Rukh Khan T-shirts and drink coffee from cups with his photograph on them. Only one Indian movie has ever been released in South KoreaÃÂa Tamil language film called Muthu: The Dancing Maharaja, in 1998.
In a paper called Indian Films and Nigerian Lovers: Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities, anthropologist Brian Larkin writes about the influence of Bollywood in northern Nigeria, where Lebanese exhibitors started importing Indian films in the 1950s. Larkin writes: ÃÂTo this day, stickers of Indian films and stars decorate the taxis and buses of the north, posters of Indian films adorn the walls of tailorsÃÂ shops and mechanicsÃÂ garages, and love songs from Indian film are borrowed by religious singers who change the words to sing praises of Prophet Mohammed. For over thirty years, Indian films, their stars and fashions, music and stories have been a dominant part of everyday culture in northern Nigeria.ÃÂ The Germans are more recent converts. The first Bollywood film to have a major theatrical release was Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sorrow) in 2003. In Germany, DVDs of dubbed Hindi films are sold with the tag line Bollywood macht glcklich! Bollywood makes you happy