Monday, April 28, 2008

Bollywood As a Social Vehicle

In an article titled "Bollywood No Longer A Dream Too Far for India's
Lower Castes" in the Washington Post, writer, Emily Wax discussed
Bollywood's struggle with casteism, a reflection of the country's
struggle with this chronic issue.

"Paswan, 33, is a Dalit, a member of India's most ostracized caste.
Dalits are often cobblers, street sweepers and toilet cleaners, but
they are rarely actors in the world's largest film industry. Still, as
he stood that day beneath towering billboards showing Hindi film stars
hawking expensive watches and cars, Paswan decided Bollywood was for
him," says Wax in this article, succinctly pointing out that, "It is
not easy for Indians to shake loose the cages of caste, a
3,000-year-old pecking order in which professions and social status
are inherited like eye color or height. But Bollywood, like Mumbai
itself, is a place where young Indians are increasingly finding
opportunities to reinvent themselves."

If Bollywood is the place to break this norm then so be it. It is not
surprising how many taboos are broken and norms changed by popular
media. If Bollywood can help break the taboos surrounding casteism in
India then kudos to this film industry that is often ridiculed for
their song and dance type films.

According to Wax, "Across India, Dalits and members of other low
castes are struggling to gain access to quality education and
better-paying jobs. The economy is booming, and Indians of low caste
-- often identifiable by their surnames, birthplaces or parents'
status -- want to share in the wealth, or at least the opportunity.
Some aspiring actors from low castes say their confidence is growing.
There is more social mobility than ever before, they say, and
Bollywood is experiencing its share of change."

Read the full article at--

No comments: