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Brown and (usually) blue: the new kings of the world

Brown and (usually) blue: the new kings of the world


Every day, 14 to 15 million Indians go to the cinema. India produces between 1,500 and 2,000 films per year, more than any other country in the world. The first section of Book by Fatima Bhuttos, New Kings of the World: Dispatches from Bollywood, Dizi and K-Pop (2019), dives straight into an astute analysis of Bollywood, one of its three topics. The fact that the Hindi film industry grossed a whopping $1.3 billion in 2023 only confirms the global reach and influence Bhutto examines in his book.

Bollywood benefited from an international audience since In the 1950s, pioneering director Raj Kapoor's Awaara (1951), in his English film The Vagabond, captured the attention of audiences around the world, from Romania to Afghanistan. Remade 8 times in Turkey, the film's socialist themes helped establish a long-standing acceptance of Bollywood in Eastern Europe. In the annals of my camera roll there is a video of a trader my family met during a 2019 vacation to Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Upon discovering that we were from India, she enthusiastically began to sing, humming a number from Raj Kapoor's film Sangam (1964), in English Confluence.

But Bhutto goes beyond the usual talk of songs, statistics and spectacle. By tracing Bollywood's almost intrinsic relationship with politics, it offers readers (even those unfamiliar with the history of Hindi cinema) an in-depth understanding of the evolution of some key thematic elements of Hindi films. Discussing culture, diaspora and secularism, she looks at public perception of the film industryand how this in turn shapes sociopolitical discourse.

Bhutto complements his broader analysis of Bollywood by examining the stardom of its Baadshah, unofficially translated as king: Shah Rukh Khan. Known for his romantic on-screen persona, with his signature smile and outstretched arms, SRK, as he is popularly called, is considered one of the most successful film stars in the world. Since his appearance on the scene in 1993, Khan dominated hearts, fantasies and the box office, delivering blow after blow. His fandom remains intact even 30 years later in 2023, the year the public returns to theaters, three of his films were in the top 10 highest-grossing Hindi films of the year, with two occupying the top two spots.

In his book, Bhutto spends a day following this eternal hero in Dubai and explores his global reach through a poignant personal account of his experience with his fan clubs in Peru. Straddling India's two ways of being, Khan is today a solitary figure, Bhutto concludes. In his films, he was the bridge between socialist India, as it moved toward its hypercapitalist future, and a guide on how one could be modern while remaining principled and traditional in neoliberal India. As she describes the crowds gathering around her Dubai set to catch a glimpse of the star; his fervent Peruvian fans who see him as a stallion, idol and even savior; and his humble and slightly self-deprecating style, oWe can't help but marvel at Khan's symbolism. I know I did, both as a movie buff and a fan. And I didn't even enter dThisTurkish TV sensationor K-pop again!

The only fault of the book is its length. HAS 206 pages, it offers an insightful, but superficial, exploration of three major cultural exports from the Global East. It is a good introduction for those looking for a concise window into its subject, and taking it as a springboard.

Ultimately, New Kings of the World addresses the significant challenges these phenomena present to the dominance of American pop culture. The Dizis have dazzled audiences around the world, propelled solely by the righteous power of values. The fandom of K-pop group BTS, which has more than 75 million YouTube subscribers, East Countdown the days until its members complete their mandatory military service in the South Korean military. Bhutto lays the groundwork for in-depth discussions about the widespread success of these phenomena and what the years to come will look like. How the serialThe unique blend of tradition and modernity contributed to its success? How has K-pop redefined the way fame is marketed? And if you really want to chat about Bollywood, this brown and (usually) blue Jumbo is always happy to be eloquent!




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