It’s a plot device that stretches from Dickens to Romy & Michelle: the wealthy benefactor swooping in at just the right moment. But as the credit crunch makes Hollywood financing more and more unstable, the Indian industrialist’s agreement with production companies headed by celebrities such as Jim Carrey, George Clooney and Tom Hanks is worth even more to all concerned than its billion-dollar price tag.
While Disney, Sony and Warners have all put their money behind their interest in the expanding Indian media market, this mammoth transaction marks a significant Indian stake in the world of Western film. Inevitably, speculation has already begun as to whether this means that Bollywood’s masala will start to make an appearance in the movies of Hollywood. But amusing as it would be to see Brangelina bhangra, or to watch Clooney croon in the rain, this represents corporate rather than creative control.
If we are to believe Ambani’s media company, Reliance Big Entertainment, which stresses that the films developed for these A-listers will be free from editorial interference, then this is something of a breakthrough for the image of Bollywood abroad. Its backing of American cinema swiftly takes it out of the all-singing, all-dancing ghetto at the margins of mainstream entertainment in the West. Bollywood now means money, and money is something everybody respects.
So far so good for Hollywood – it gets the cash it needs. And also for Reliance Big – it gets the credibility afforded those who supply that cash. Context, however, is everything. Back in India, Ambani has also just announced a major media launch of 20 TV and radio channels.
Media is one of the subcontinent’s economic trailblazers. Along with shopping malls, highways and gated communities, it is consumed by a growing middle class in the nation’s race towards modernity. But it also underscores the country’s lopsided growth and the worsening of its deep social and economic divisions.
Read More: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/05/hollywoods_bollywood_saviour.html