Bollywood vs Hollywood: How Indian culture is becoming more prevalent among students

October 25, 2017 — by Krithi Sankar

At the age of 6, senior Vishal Narayan adored the Bollywood movie “Dhoom 2,” often watching it after school.

Narayan was initially attracted to Bollywood movies because of their upbeat and expressive songs.

While Bollywood and Hollywood produce movies in a similar range of genres, from dramas to comedies, Bollywood’s distinguishing features are its extravagant, lavish song and dance sequences.

Along with the musical elements of Bollywood films, excessive drama is also an integral part of the genre. Bollywood films also have similar plots and one overarching rule: The good guys win and the bad guys lose.

Narayan has continued his passion for Bollywood into his teenage years by participating in Bollywood dance.

Narayan’s obsession with Bollywood songs, rather than the movies themselves, is shared among many students through clubs like the Indian Cultural Awareness Club (ICAC). With hundreds of Indian students on campus, interest in Bollywood culture has increased, especially with the diverse participation in ICAC’s annual Bollywood showcase, “Bombay in the Bay.”

Senior Colina Guan is a part of the surge of non-Indian students participating in different Bollywood dance performances.

She, along with senior Nicholas Di, are the only non-Indian members of Toga Tamasha, the school’s competitive Bollywood dance team.

Guan, an avid dancer, decided to audition for Bhangra in her junior year with the encouragement of some of her Indian friends; this year, she auditioned for Tamasha. Ultimately, the music and choreography draw non-Indian students who are as energized and excited about Indian culture as Indians themselves.

“I’ve heard a lot of Bollywood songs and remixes from Tamasha, Bombay in the Bay and Homecoming practices and they’re always super catchy and have nice beats,” Guan said.

Bollywood culture has made a major impact on students in high school and in their lives.

Senior ICAC co-president Laasya Giri also gained her interest in Bollywood through the club.

“As I grew up, I was less interested in Bollywood, but when I started Bombay in the Bay, I regained my interest,” Giri said.  “I started to listen to the songs again and I could identify with them in terms of performing.”

Narayan takes pride in his Indian heritage — be it through Bollywood or dance performance.

“Bollywood, especially Bombay in the Bay, has given me a cultural identity that I can associate myself with,” Narayan said. “For example, if I hear an Indian song anywhere, I recognize my culture, and I'm proud of it.”


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