Don't call it 'Bollywood'


By David Landau

Published Aug 16, 2007 11:05 AM

As the world gets smaller, expect to see some changes in film-industry hierarchy. Indian cinema is growing in popularity and influence as its mother country's presence in the global economy is becoming more noticeable, and Hollywood is taking note.

Robert Rosen, Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, is helping to speed up the process; he’s a main force behind the six-day India Splendor festival, which connects Eastern and Western Media in a celebration of Indian film, culture and independence.

"India is here, its culture...is here to stay, and we have to recognize this," said Rosen at an August 14 reception and screening. "UCLA should be a neutral breeding ground for [filmmakers from different cultures] to [meet and collaborate]."

Attending the event were some big names: Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Sleepless in Seattle and The Sting screenwriter David S. Ward, Indian superstar couple Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachchan and famed director Mani Ratnam, the latter three involved in the film being screened, 2007's blockbuster Guru.

Outside of the invitation-only gathering at the Billy Wilder Theater were scores of young and old Indian expatriates who have left the country for one reason or another — clambering to get pictures with the Bachchans, Indian icons who have brought so much comfort to them through films while they have been away.

During a marathon Q & A session with the stars of Guru, it was easy to see why they are so loved: the Bachchans are honest, candid, disarming people who make you feel at home wherever you are. The session finally ended at midnight, and only because the Hammer Museum had to close.


One very important thing to remember: don't call India's movie industry by its U.S. nickname, "Bollywood," unless you want the conversation to end right there.

"Bollywood is a term coined by an American reporter, intended as an insult toward the [older] Indian film industry's plagiarism of Hollywood movies," said Mr. Bachchan. "Unfortunately, the term stuck."

For more information, see India Splendor.



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