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Bollywood: a false sense of hope?


Copyright: Rapid Eye Movies

The sparkling world of Bollywood in India embodies a world full of glamour and joy. Love, dance and music are important elements of every movie. In this colorful world there are no boundaries. Despite dramatic twists and turns, there is usually a happy ending.

Meanwhile Bollywood movies have also reached Germany. The best-known films are dubbed into German and occasionally shown on television. The hype about the movies is so big that strangers start talking to me and want to know more about India. Even my friends love Bollywood movies and can sing all the songs by heart. Here in Germany everyone thinks that the movies portray real life in India.

But is the life of an ordinary Indian really so colorful and full of joy?

What is India like?

The sad answer is: no.


Copyright: AFP/Getty images.

I have been to India nine times and there are so many differences between movies and real life in India. The inequality between men and women, poverty, pollution and other major problems are not mentioned in movies. Instead in movies problems are just covered up. I often wonder why the film industry creates such utopias and the last time I was in India I got the answer from an Indian taxi driver: For most people in India Bollywood is more than entertainment.

The life of an ordinary Indian from the lower classes is characterized by many difficulties. People have to work hard for their money. Social assistance or child benefits do not exist in India, like they do in Germany.

Poverty abounds

Though India has achieved a rapid economic development in the past years, many people are still affected by poverty. A further major problem in Indian society is the gap between rich and poor. The more the rich people profit and become richer, the more poor people get poorer. The prices and standard of living in India mean that poor people suffer a lot.

The people have small pleasures and that also includes Bollywood movies. Movies give people the opportunity to forget their worries for a little while. Often, people identify themselves with the main characters, because the leading roles symbolize the life of an ordinary Indian. People from the lower classes want to be entertained and not confronted with the sad things in life.

Escaping poverty through cinema

For many Indians movies are more than just entertainment and the cinema is a way of escaping their misery. This is one of the most important reasons why Bollywood movies are so successful in India.

I think that Bollywood movies are very entertaining and also show parts of Indian culture, but I think the really sad thing is that the movies give people false hope and the confidence for a better future, which is actually the responsibility of the government and of society.

Author: Shanjanaa Soundharajan

Editor: Grahame Lucas

Shanjanaa Soundharajan is a 21-year-old student, who studies Asian Studies with a focus on South Asia in Bonn. As the daughter of South Indian immigrants who came to Germany 30 years ago, she has a foot in both German and Indian culture.


16.09.2014 | 14:58