Monday, June 23, 2008
Two Indias, Again
On Sunday I did a post under the title, "Two Indias" (see below), about the collapse of the agricultural sector and the rise of bling culture in Mumbai. Today's New York Times has another set of articles underscoring the diversity of cultural production in India. "Town in India Rocks (No Use to Wonder Why, Babe") discusses the popularity of Bob Dylan and American rock music in Shillong, an area of northern India that's predominantly Christian. Here, culture is getting transformed from the bottom up among a rag-tag group of Indian rock musicians inspired by Dylan and Pink Floyd. The other article, "Bollywood Goes to Hollywood, Seeking Bargains," reports that "Reliance Entertainment, part of an Indian conglomerate controlled by the telecommunications and finance mogul Anil Ambani, is in talks to finance Steven Spielberg and David Geffen in a new venture. The company has also recently signed production deals with several Hollywood directors like Jay Roach and Chris Columbus and stars like Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Jim Carrey." The article about rock music charts the conventional flow of culture from the "center" to the "periphery," from the west to the rest, but the second article suggests that flow is about to reverse as Bollywood moguls begin to invest in Hollywood. These two articles suggest that musical culture in India continues to be influenced by western culture, but that in the world of film Bollywood is just beginning to exert power on film in the west. Add to this the fact that at the Tribal Arts Academy (see post, below) indigenous cultural forms and practices are being recovered and taught and you can see how rich and diverse the cultural flows in India are.