Bollywood and Hollywood

The New York Film Academy is planning on setting up a campus in India, according to an article from BBC. The NYFA seems to pride itself on providing quality filmmaking education to “anyone with the drive and ambition to make films,” as read on its website, and teaches “hundreds of students of all occupations, races, ethnicities and of a wide range of ages from around the world.”  This philosophy was probably a big factor in deciding to propose to plant a campus in India.

India produces tons of films, everyone’s heard of Bollywood, but their films are of a different style than of those made in America, and they definitely don’t rake in the same revenue. This article has a really clear and concise comparison of the two, and even though it dates back to 2007, I think the general idea is still the same even if numbers have changed.

What I didn’t understand though, after reading about the widespread popularity of Bollywood films, was if they’re so popular, and maybe even more popular worldwide than Hollywood films, why aren’t Americans more into them? After looking into it, the main reason seems to be that there’s a cultural difference in both movie making and movie watching that keeps a large part of Americans from really enjoying Bollywood films. This website explained it well, but I’ll go into a little bit of analysis.

Bollywood films incorporate a lot of fantasy and it takes more effort to follow them; they require more imagination than Americans have gotten used to putting into movie-watching. Another factor that probably deters Americans from Bollywood films is their length. The average Bollywood film is three hours, which is way more time than the average American wants to spend sitting still watching a movie. Especially if we have it in our heads that a movie shouldn’t last more than 120 minutes. Lastly, most Bollywood films are musicals. I think there are two reasons that Americans no longer appreciate it when actors break into song. First, the music slows the plot too much. America runs on constant stimulation, and a break for song doesn’t let anything happen for too long. Second, we can somehow get caught up in unrealistic plots like those of Salt and Avatar, but breaking for song is just too unrealistic for us. Maybe if the actors broke out into rap we’d be more receptive. Just kidding. For the most part though, American movies really do depict a dramatic version of real life, and that’s what we’re now used to.    

With all those differences, it’s interesting that the New York Film Academy would put itself permanently in India. NYFA does workshops all over the world, but this new campus is more than a workshop, and will only have American professors. Maybe they want to connect American and Indian filmmaking. There seems to be a friendly competition between Hollywood and Bollywood, which can even be seen on this ad for the United Nations Environment Programme World Environment Day challenge, which put the two head to head back in June. Maybe the NYFA just wants in on that competition.

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