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From Bombay to Bollywood

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

Aswin Punathambekar
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 266
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  • Book Info
    From Bombay to Bollywood
    Book Description:

    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 Punathambekaris Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He is the co-editor ofGlobal Bollywood(NYU Press, 2008).In thePostmillenial Popseries

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-7190-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-24)

    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...

  5. 1 Bollywood Is Useful: Media Industries and the State in an Era of Reform
    (pp. 25-50)

    Held in the “grand ballroom” of the five-star Renaissance Hotel in suburban Bombay, the inauguration of the FICCI-FRAMES 2009 convention was a lavish affair that opened with Amit Mitra, the Secretary-General of FICCI, inviting the Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting and External Affairs, Anand Sharma, on to the stage to light a lamp—a widely practiced ritual to begin an event on an auspicious note. As the ritual came to a close, Mitra invited five others to join the minister on the stage: Sushma Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting; Yash Chopra, legendary film producer and director, head of...

  6. 2 Staging Bollywood: Industrial Identity in an Era of Reform
    (pp. 51-78)

    In many respects, the filmic exemplar for Bollywood in a phase of transition is Rommy Rolly, one of the central protagonists inLuck by Chance(2009), a film that takes an affectionate and at times critical look at the workings of the film industry in Bombay. Written and directed by Zoya Akhtar, daughter of established screenwriter Honey Irani and acclaimed lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar, the film revolves around the struggles of two young actors who arrive in Bombay with hopes of making it big in the film industry. Taking us behind the scenes of a film being produced by...

  7. 3 “It’s All about Knowing Your Audience”: Marketing and Promotions in Bollywood
    (pp. 79-112)

    In April 2004 theTimes of Indiabegan publishing a comic strip featuring two characters namedHumandTum. As soon became clear to readers across the country, the comic strips were part of a marketing campaign for a film produced and distributed by Yash Raj Films (Hum Tum, 2004, You and Me, dir. Kunal Kohli). The marketing team at Yash Raj Films had, in what seemed unusual at the time, been involved in the filmmaking process from a very early stage and decided to build a campaign around the film’s protagonist, Karan Kapoor (Saif Ali Khan), who plays the...

  8. 4 “Multiplex with Unlimited Seats”: Dot-Coms and the Making of an Overseas Territory
    (pp. 113-146)

    “So tell me, you left India for work or for higher studies?” asked Saleem Mobhani, cofounder of the highly popular and successful Bollywood website, a division ofHungama.comand recently rebranded as We were in a conference room in the office of, one of the few media and entertainment portals in India to have survived the dot-com crash. “Higher studies. I left in ’99,” I replied and before I could say more, he interrupted: “If you’ve been in the U.S., you know that it was students and expats sitting on the cutting edge of the boom, people...

  9. 5 “It’s Not Your Dad’s Bollywood”: Diasporic Entrepreneurs and the Allure of Digital Media
    (pp. 147-176)

    In June 2003 the publicity event for Rajshri Productions’ filmMain Prem Ki Diwani Hoonin New York City was attended primarily by journalists and public relations professionals working for various South Asian newspapers, magazines, and popular diaspora-centric web portals like The entire event lasted a hour, and went largely unnoticed by anyone besides this small group of diasporic media professionals. By the fall of 2008, when the South Asians in Media and Marketing Association (SAMMA) organized its second annual convention, the influence that Indian media had come to wield in the South Asian American mediascape and indeed, American...

  10. CONCLUSION: Fandom and Other Transnational Futures
    (pp. 177-190)

    I began this book with an account of a spectacular media convention designed to celebrate Bollywood’s growing prominence in the world. Held in Bombay and attended by industry professionals, policymakers, and bureaucrats from across the world, the 2009 FICCI-FRAMES convention seemed to mark Bollywood’s arrival on the world stage. Yet as we saw, discussions at this gathering revealed the messy, uneven, and contradictory nature of industrial change. As with other domains of cultural, political, and economic life in India, the consequences of globalization where the Bombay film industry is concerned have been far from predictable or, for that matter, easily...

  11. APPENDIX 1: Profiles of Key Bollywood Companies
    (pp. 191-204)
  12. APPENDIX 2: Top Box-Office Successes, 2000–2009
    (pp. 205-208)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 209-228)
    (pp. 229-240)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 241-254)
    (pp. 255-255)