Dr Amit Kumar Sharma

Dr. Amit Kumar Sharma
Department of Sociology,School of Social Sciences,Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi - 110067

Aspects of Culture in India and the West

Aspects of Culture in India and the West


India and the West are complementary to each-other from ancient times. Both have seen ups and downs in historical dynamics of human history. In ancient and medieval times the influence of India was on a larger canvas in the world history but contemporary history belongs to the west in more than one area.

After Independence in 1947, Colonialism gradually gave way to western capitalism in India and we were busy with nation building. It is unfortunate, however we continued to be perceived as a market and a cheap production centre by the western world. The West invaded India with technology and ideas through multinationals and their hidden persuaders, the advertising agencies. With this came a new form of entertainment- the movies and the television serials. Dubbed films of Hollywood began to make inroads on the metros and small town India and Bollywood emerged as a hybrid product - aping the master narratives of the West but with one eye on Indian audiences. In the process, we created one of the world's largest markets for the Hindi film product. This became more and more formidable full of variety but formula -based and predictable from the Indian points of view.

A vibrant nation requires a global products and brands we need to address mainstream international audiences in their own idiom with our own cultural agenda creating a global film means one has to operate with unstoppable ideas, which become the product, its icons become larger than life and their packaging and distribution become like marketing a two and a half hour stay in a world full of dream and fantasy.

Hollywood has some stupendous successes to its credit. It has spun a romance around concepts created products and trends built a lifestyle around them. According to one commentator it created an image of Europe as an American Saga. It also captured Arabia, Africa and west Asia for the world. It bought American images of China and Japan to audiences. Marketing and technology also plays complementary role in this process. Harry Porter and Shakespeare are good examples of western universalization. The romance of Shakespeare continues to haunt world cinema because he is taught and performed in every school and is every actor’s dream come true. The Harry Porter series also stimulates the global audience and readers. We stand at the crossroads. American Studios operating in India are trying to outdo Bollywood but they are as lost as an Indian corporate or Movie Mughals longing to reach world frontiers. We need to universalize ourselves. We need to find our roots. We need to pick up where our Masters left off. We have to universalize Indian ideas, themes and history in our own languages.

Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Gandhi, Tagore and our cricketing spirit may complement the young Film makers of India to attract the aspirations and attention of the Global Village.

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