James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Archive for February 23rd, 2009

Bollywood films, like phone center jobs, likely to stay in India

Posted by James McPherson on February 23, 2009

Today CNN asks in a headline, “Is Bollywood coming to Hollywood?” It is a natural question, after the success of “Slumdog Millionaire” in the Academy Awards last night, but my answer, in a word is “no.” In more than a word, “perhaps, but not for long.”

In fact, “Slumdog” is like the main character within it: a one-time phenomenon who happens to be in the right place at the right time. Two years from now people will have a tough time remembering that it was ever named “Best Picture.” And besides, though it boasted Indian actors and locales, it wasn’t a true Bollywood-style film. The only dance number existed just to keep us around for the closing credits.

It is perhaps inevitable that we’ll see a spate of movies intending to capitalize on the success of “Slumdog.” But the novelty will be gone, and most of those films won’t be as well made (even if they have more logical endings). A few years ago some predicted that “Moulin Rouge!” and “Chicago” would “bring back the musical.”

I liked both films, and also enjoyed “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Grease,” but in fact  in fact I liked all four as much in spite of the fact that they were musicals as because they were musicals. I think most other people feel the same way, which is why if you want to see something like “Chicago” today, you do as I did last month–go see it on Broadway .

“Bollywood is not for everybody,” said one Indian film expert quoted by CNN. “People who love to see Adam Sandler movies are not going to line up to see Bollywood films.” That’s a good point, though of course there are a lot of us who are not generally inclined to see either one. 

After I saw the definitely non-musical “The Wedding Singer,” I told my wife, “Life is too short for me to ever sit through another Adam Sandler movie.” I hear he’s done some good work since then, but so have a lot of other, more talented people whose films I haven’t yet seen. Some of those films have even won Academy Awards, a fate unlikely for either Bollywood or Adam Sandler.

Posted in History, Media literacy, Music | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »