India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

‘Slumdog’ magic rubs off on India abroad

June 12, 2009


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Bollywood and Indian culture is getting plenty of attention worldwide — thanks to the “Slumdog Millionaire” effect.

Danny Boyle’s rags-to-riches romance about a poor Indian boy competing in a TV game show scooped eight Academy Awards earlier this year.

The film’s global box-office success brought its relatively unknown young stars on the global stage (with lead actress Freida Pinto slated to star in Woody Allen’s next project).

In the U.S., Bollywood’s arc of influence is creating thriving ancillary industries and garnering buzz for the likes of celebrity stylist Shalini Vadhera.

The Los Angeles entrepreneur, with her Global Goddess beauty products, sits atop a business that brings in a million dollars annually.

“I always feel like Obama winning for the African Americans is ‘Slumdog’ winning for us as Indian Americans and South Asians was fantastic,” she says.

“Because it created an awareness that there are a lot of talented South Asians out there whether it’s in the field of entertainment or fashion or beauty and it’s been wonderful for my business.”

Bollywood and its steady infiltration into Western culture is also boosting the profile of Rajan Shah, a self-taught player and music producer.

“The other day I was walking in Hollister and guess what music they were playing. They were playing ‘Jai Ho’ by A.R. Rahman,” says Shah, who is based in Washington D.C.

“And not just A.R. Rahman but bhangra music is everywhere now.”

What do you think? ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and Bollywood may have helped Indian culture make inroads into America, but is it just a temporary phase?

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