27 September 2008

Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief

Just a little more Bollywood, if you'll indulge me. Along with audio research for yesterday's radio show, I also sat down with the book Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief: Inside the World of Indian Moviemaking by Stephen Alter. It's not as much of a juicy insider expose as the title might suggest, but still an engaging read as the author uses the filming of the movie Omkara as a jumping off point for larger points about India's huge cinema industry.Confessions of a Bollywood Love Thief - on SoundRoots.org

Omkara is Vishal Bhardwaj's Bollywood adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello, The Moor of Venice. Those knowledgeable about US film making may find some intriguing differences detailed in the discussion of production, sets, and the business side of movies, India style. But more than once the point is made that despite the derivative name, Bollywood is not a cheap knockoff of Hollywood. India produces more than 900 films a year, most of more than two hours long, and most featuring a handful of song and dance numbers that themselves spawn spinoff industries of soundtracks and even game shows.

The domestic and regional market for such films is huge, though few of them seem to make it to any significant release here in the USA. Having read about the behind-the-scenes action, I'm curious to see Omkara, but probably won't get a chance to see it in an actual theater.

The book is certainly worth a read if you're interested in Bollywood. And the trailer gives you a taste of this hard-edged adaptation of the Bard.

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