Next Euro-Bollywood Meeting

BAFTSS conference, Birmingham 27/04/2019


  1. Welcome and quick introduction
  2. E-B website updates
  3. Any forthcoming projects: new E-B research, cultural partnerships, any research grants, articles, books, chapters etc.
  4. What do we want to do as a E-B SIG over the next 12 months – call for ideas from all?
  5. When and where to host the next E-B meeting?

A Euro-Bollywood Roundtable

Papers Presented:

Zee with your heart! Production and Reception of German Bollywood (Dr Bernhard Fuchs)

The German Bollywood channel Zee One has been launched since 2016. The brand ambassador is the most popular Bollywood star in Germany: Shahrukh Khan. Using his star status is a strategy by the channel to capitalise on his strong fan base. Zee One is a free-to-air TV channel providing Indian entertainment – German dubbed versions of Bollywood and TV-serials, music videos, culinary and Yoga programmes – for a German audience. Zee One cooperates with 4 large studios for its production and content. In some cases there is synergy with labels like Bolly.Love and Rapid Eye Movies, but sometimes versions of movies for cinemas and DVDs differ from the TV-versions. Zee One stresses the emotional qualities of Bollywood with slogans like “Feel Bollygood” or “Zee with your heart”. Zee One as an example of a Euro-Bollywood case study is of interest as it is targeted especially towards a non-Indian audience. In this presentation research on the channel as a creative industry, analysis of entrepreneurial culture, marketing ideas and practices of production are combined with textual analysis and reception studies. Audience research is not restricted to “ethnic” Germans (a problematic term in itself) but studies how culturally diverse audiences (including Indian diaspora and other migrant communities) consume and evaluate this Germanised product of cultural transfer.

Bollywood’s ‘New’ Woman ( Dr Nazia Hussein & Dr Saba Hussain)

This paper identifies and explores how contemporary female centred Bollywood movies construct the idea of the ‘modern Indian woman’. Indian women have been the centre of public debates around traditional and modern ideals of womanhood, and have served as a symbol through which the post-colonial Indian nation gets imagined and re-imagined.  Historically commercial Bollywood films portrayed their female characters as ‘ideal women’ – submissive, self-sacrificing, chaste, and controlled – while the ‘bad’ woman is individualistic, sexually aggressive, westernised, and not sacrificing. Several contemporary Bollywood movies depict female characters portraying urban ‘modern’ women in ‘modern’ relationships through pre-marital sex, live-in relationships, and women prioritising their careers or individual pursuits over their relationship with men. Using Partha Chatterjee’s (1997) notion of ‘our modernity’, and Hussein’s (2015) conceptualisation of practices of respectable femininity in South Asia, we study four recent female centred Bollywood movies released between 2014-18 to examine how the female characters in these movies embrace and resist gendered and cultural demands of normative womanhood in India while also positioning themselves as ‘new’ women. The films selected are Queen (2014), Piku (2015) and Dear Zindagi (2016) and Veerey di Wedding (2018) based on their women cantered narratives and commercial and critical success in India. Some of these films’ narratives also move across locations in Europe and the overseas space and we also consider what this means for representations of ‘new’ women in recent Bollywood cinema.

Border Transgressions, Diaspora and European Trajectories in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (Dr Florian Stadler)

This paper will look at the way in which recent Bollywood films have configured their interactions with Europe. Focusing on Karan Johar’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, released in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June 2016, the paper considers how the film traverses borders and represents complex connections and interactions among Indian diasporic communities. A love story framed around boundary transgression, and set in London, Paris, Vienna and Frankfurt, it is a film that considers trans-European interactions between its protagonists. The film challenges boundaries in terms of its engagements with love stories that bridge cultural and religious divides, which find a reflection in the seamless crossing of geographical borders. Arguably, then, the film offers an important snapshot of a cultural political moment when these forms of transgressions are increasingly challenged in national contexts in Britain, Europe and India, reflected in the controversy the casting of Pakistani actor Fawad Khan provoked. I will argue that the film opens up new pathways to read the positioning and figuration of the diasporic Indian in a European setting at a moment when the question of national borders and moves towards limiting the possibilities of transgressions of borders receive new significance in public and political debate.