Sunday, January 06, 2008

Bollywood: The Dark Side



By Sajawal Khan
Sunday, 14 September 2003

The Indian film industry is the second largest in the world producing about 300 movies a year. Not more than 5 or six movies hit the box office. One wonders why people keep on investing in an apparently money losing business. The reason is quite simple. The real function of "bollywood" is not to produce movies. It, in fact, is one of the largest money laundering operations in the world. According to CNN all the businesses in India have to give 25 per cent of their profits to the underworld to stay in business and "bollywood" is no exception. That money needs to be laundered.

Most of the movies are shot either in Europe or America so that money can be transferred abroad. Even the actors and actresses have to keep on bribing the underworld dons to stay in business, and also to stay alive. Rakesh Roshan, one of the noted producers and father of the famous "bollywood" idol, Hrithic Roshan was shot and injured because of his dispute with the underworld.

It is no coincidences that during this phase of Capitalism’s decay and degeneration, even cultural activities have been mired by greed and vulgarity. Culture basically is an expression of the aesthetic self of a certain community. It has been totally vulgarized under commercialism. It also lays bare the total degeneration and bankruptcy of the ruling class, as we all know that the ruling ideas, even in culture, are those of the ruling class.

Even an artist has become a tool used to produce and enhance the profits of those who own the means of production in this system. That is why art has lost all its beauty and depth in the face of ever growing commercialisation. As greed knows no bounds, culture and art is sinking into the bottomless pit of profitability. The present ruling class is even worse than the previous ones who at least had a better cultural level owing to historical reasons. The singers or artists in all fields compete with each other to win the advertising contracts of multinational companies. Commercial success has become the ultimate criterion and that is why now so-called "artists" bribe the journalists to keep themselves in the limelight. There is a constant vulgar and a petty race among the artists to be number one. They exchange cheap remarks about each other in the media. The actresses use the media to become the most expensive prostitutes, and so on.

Culture, like all other aspects of human life, cannot flourish under the yoke of finance capital. A genuine cultural renaissance can only be had through a socialist revolution by overthrowing this ruling class that has monopolized and enslaved culture and reduced art to a saleable commodity.
RENEGADE EYE

44 comments:

enigma4ever said...

wow ...I am shocked...
NOT.....
great post...I love Ballywood movies...and I know that is not good...and now I know how bad it is...

thanks

Mad Zionist said...

Great hooters on that babe!! Nice!!

Renegade Eye said...

Enigma: When Bollywood makes a good movie, it's great.

MZ: That is Aishwarya Rai, a big time celebrity in India. She is a former Miss Universe.

Anybody ever see a Nollywood (Nigeria) movie?

The Pagan Temple said...

I think I've got a picture of her as well on my blog, on a post I did quite a while back. She is very beautiful. Bollywood movies are almost all corny musicals, if I ain't mistaken. They need to expand their repertoire.

That is a very interesting article. The notion that Bollywood movies are used as money laundring operations makes sense.

I don't agree that socialsim would improve art. If anything it would limit it to only those kinds of art that is deemed acceptable. So, who would make that decision, and based on what criterion? Why should a socialist leader have the right to decide what I should see or read or listen to?

Now, the people pretty much decide what they like, and the producers invest their money producing films they think will appeal to the masses. Sometimes they get it right, probably most often they don't. I think they depend on focus groups that aren't really representative.

At the same time, there is pretty much something for everybody if you are willing to look hard enough for it. Quality is a different matter altogether.

betmo said...

sad- but not surprising. unbridled greed is robbing the world of its best and brightest and replacing them with the richest.

Farmer John said...

LOL!

The producers supply what people demand. And they do it "despite" the interference of the criminals taking their 25%, not because of it. All the involvement of the "criminal element" means is that the "consumers" of Bollywood entertainment can afford to pay more for their vices (mindless entertainment).

The only way to impede the "vulgarization" of culture is take the surplus out of the hands of the poor and NOT allow them to spend it on entertainment. That way, only the richest "elites" can afford to finance a demand for culture, and the poor will have to make do with whatever scraps of culture fall from the tables of the elites.

You all really should read Ortega y Gasset's Revolt of the Masses.

THERE is one fact which, whether for good or ill, is of utmost importance in the public life of Europe at the present moment. This fact is the accession of the masses to complete social power. As the masses, by definition, neither should nor can direct their own personal existence, and still less rule society in general, this fact means that actually Europe is suffering from the greatest crisis that can afflict peoples, nations, and civilisation. Such a crisis has occurred more than once in history. Its characteristics and its consequences are well known. So also is its name. It is called the rebellion of the masses. In order to understand this formidable fact, it is important from the start to avoid giving to the words "rebellion," "masses," and "social power" a meaning exclusively or primarily political. Public life is not solely political, but equally, and even primarily, intellectual, moral, economic, religious; it comprises all our collective habits, including our fashions both of dress and of amusement.

Farmer John said...

Talk about your elitist snobs! You people take the cake. The stinky smelly fornicating Aqualungs or Cross-Eyed Marys are all the cause du jour UNTIL it comes to allowing THEIR culture to flower...

G_d forbid they should put THAT crappe on YOUR television set.

Power to the people! Hypocrites.

Farmer John said...

Some of the GREAT GOODS CANNOT LIVE TOGETHER! (Isaiah Berlin)

Like 'High culture' and 'Universal Prosperity'

We are forced to choose. This represents the TRAGIC NATURE OF CHOICE.

Foxessa said...

Popular musicians in Mexico have the same problems or something very like these problems. But it's the narco industry that kidnaps and kills them. Sometimes though, it's because of narco gang feuds. One popular musician is financed and / or favored by this narco gang, so its rivals kill him / her.

Love, C.

Ducky's Here said...

"The only way to impede the "vulgarization" of culture is take the surplus out of the hands of the poor and NOT allow them to spend it on entertainment."

I'm not so sure Farmer. Everyone must have entertainment. It's a necessity.

Frankly I don't want to go back to the days of Baroque crap when art was something that was never on public display but simply hung in the mansions of bourgeois clowns whose taste was up their rump somewhere.

Took a while to break out of that. Anyway, the poor often did just fine. I love to listen to the Anthology of American Folk Music and as John Fahey said, "If you offered me the Anthology or the Dead Sea scrolls, I'd take the Anthology". I would too.

Producers supply whatever they want to supply. As Godard said "The problem is getting the film exhibited. You can always get it made. If you can't afford 35mm do it in 16mm.".

roman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
roman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
roman said...

Ducky,

bourgeois clowns whose taste was up their rump somewhere.

So what you're saying is that all the great art by the old masters of the past donated by the "bourgeois" to the famous museums around the world is "crap"?
I kind of like works by Titian,Rembrandt van Rijn, Vermeer, Goya, etc.... thank God those bourgeois "clowns with no taste" commissioned and preserved their works for us to enjoy.

Farmer John said...

mr ducky,

Producers supply whatever they can afford to produce/sell. And consumers buy whatever they themselves are too LAZY to produce.

And so long as the poor have money or can get or access their entertainment cheaply, authentic folk-art is dead. And the minute some authentic folk artist breaks out and DOES produce something worthwhile, you can bet it'll instantly get copied and mass-marketted to some other poor-lazy entertainment hungry schmuck for pennies on the dollar.

Let's face it, the "best" folk art is "consumed" by the producer himself for self-consumption (he's spending his OWN surplus labor and exploiting the "entertainment" value involved in its' production)

You want to see authentic folk-art resurgent? Take away poor peoples access to television and radio. Better, take away their access to books and newspapers too. Or at least teach them just how "worthless" these forms of so-called "entertainment" actually are!

Television is free. Cable/HBO is better, but charges a monthly fee. Movies cost $10 a pop. Live Theatre ticket run $80 a pop. Opera Tickets run $150. The higher the level of culture, the more it costs the lazy consumer.

No kid w/daily access to TV set is going to learn to play the piano or harmonica.

You ALL need to read Xenophon's "Oeconomicus"

Soc. It follows apparently that if a man purchases a horse and does not know how to handle him, but each time he mounts he is thrown and sustains injuries, the horse is not part of his wealth?

Crit. Not, if wealth implies weal, certainly.

Soc. And by the same token land itself is no wealth to a man who so works it that his tillage only brings him loss?

Crit. True; mother earth herself is not a source of wealth to us if, instead of helping us to live, she helps us to starve.

Soc. And by a parity of reasoning, sheep and cattle may fail of being wealth if, through want of knowledge how to treat them, their owner loses by them; to him at any rate the sheep and the cattle are not wealth?

Crit. That is the conclusion I draw.

Soc. It appears, you hold to the position that wealth consists of things which benefit, while things which injure are not wealth?

Crit. Just so.

Soc. The same things, in fact, are wealth or not wealth, according as a man knows or does not know the use to make of them? To take an instance, a flute may be wealth to him who is sufficiently skilled to play upon it, but the same instrument is no better than the stones we tread under our feet to him who is not so skilled . . . unless indeed he chose to sell it?

Crit. That is precisely the conclusion we should come to. To persons ignorant of their use flutes are wealth as saleable, but as possessions not for sale they are no wealth at all; and see, Socrates, how smoothly and consistently the argument proceeds, since it is admitted that things which benefit are wealth. The flutes in question unsold are not wealth, being good for nothing: to become wealth they must be sold.

Yes! (rejoined Socrates), presuming the owner knows how to sell them; since, supposing again he were to sell them for something which he does not know how to use, the mere selling will not transform them into wealth, according to your argument.

Crit. You seem to say, Socrates, that money itself in the pockets of a man who does not know how to use it is not wealth?

Soc. And I understand you to concur in the truth of our proposition so far: wealth is that, and that only, whereby a man may be benefited. Obviously, if a man used his money to buy himself a mistress, to the grave detriment of his body and soul and whole estate, how is that particular money going to benefit him now? What good will he extract from it?

Renegade Eye said...

Pagan: You're responding to Stalinist vulgar ideas about art.

Trotsky was in the circle with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Andre Breton etc. He destroyed the idea of "proletarian art," He said it's not possible to have socialist art, as long as class society exists. Repeatedly he said art was art. It has its own language, that it has to be judged with, before anything else.

Betmo: This post is dated. I hope someone from India, will give an update.

Foxessa: Very interesting. Could you imagine shaking down mariachis?

Farmer: I don't draw a line between high and low art. I'll go to see the bluegrass group at the bar, and go to the reception.

I don't see the connection between exposing money laundering, and attacking Indian culture. You jump right and left.

Ducky: Who would ever dream that you have to argue in defense of folk art.

Roman: reread what Ducky said.

Farmer John said...

Ren,

What's it like moving through life with only one eye, then?

Renegade Eye said...

Farmer: All the good names for blogs were taken.

Graeme said...

How about Somaliwood movies?

a very public sociologist said...

Re: art improving under socialism. What will definitely improve is people's access to art and opportunities to produce it. With the passing of corporate culture and its mania for standardisation, the aesthetic of the everyday will take hold. Out of the sheer quantity of art new qualities will emerge, taking it in directions we can scarcely dream of at the moment.

Sorry to come over a bit new-ageie.

Farmer John said...

Getting rid of standardization will merely decrease the amount of surplus value recieved through the division of labor.

Socialism. A plan for making people poorer... wasn't that my original point?

roman said...

ren,

Roman: reread what Ducky said.

I did.. my comment stands. His bias against property ownership and the capitalist system in general taints his capability to form logical inferences. He would have us believe that the "rich" have no taste in art. Such a statement has no merit in fact.

Mehmet Çagatay said...

In Grudrisse Marx says, “Production not only supplies a material for the need, but it also supplies a need for the material… The object of art – like every other product – creates a public which is sensitive to art and enjoys beauty. Production thus not only creates an object for the subject, but also a subject for the object”.

So, it is quite vulgar to explain the production with people’s needs. One of my relatives is a script writer in television business and he has developed a lame excuse to vigorously create ridiculous TV series: “but people want to watch these”. As if people “really” want to watch the show about the predicaments between a biological mother and surrogate mother. (And surrogacy is not a common practice in Turkey).

Think about Dylan’s first appear on the stage with his electric guitar. He had aroused a bitter antagonism and resentment among his fans that obviously need and want straight-forward folk music. At the end, his product, object, has created its subject.

As far as I concern, Ducky, didn’t display any prejudice against property ownership, capitalism, rich people, etc. This rude criticism reminds the fantastic diagnosis of Ludwig Von Mises about anti-capitalist mentality: these guys are anti-capitalist because they are unsuccessful within our system.

Of course the rich have taste of art like any other people. This is not the problem at all. But market has no taste of art as long as the objects of art are not capable to fit its commodity form.

sonia said...

This Sajawal Khan guy doesn't know anothing about capitalism, socialism or art. His piece is basically an unconvincing rant with little logic or coherence. We learn more about Sajawal Khan's old-fashioned moralistic prejudices than about Bollywood and Indian capitalism.

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

There's pictures of titties of every shape and size in magazines at the newsstand, for 8 dollars or less.

Viva capitalism.

MiM said...

'G_D'???

You moron. Don't you mean JEHOVAH/YAWEH - the bastard blood-god of judaeo-christianity???

Eitan said...

mim: missing some brain-cells?

And yes, definitely some NICE hooters on Aisha(my wife's hotter!!!)

Foxessa said...

[ How about Somaliwood movies? ]

Graeme -- That's getting too close to snuff flix, maybe, considering how things are in that sad and hungry country.

Love, C.

Anok said...

Hmm, and here I was thinking that all forms of art and entertainment in its varying forms over the years was about being a "saleable commodity".

In my Art Economics 101 class we were taught that your art isn't worth anything until someone has paid something for it. And even then it's only worth what was paid for it - nothing more (until you're dead and famous). I'm not saying the whole Bollywood underworld mob problem is wonderful or normal or should continue....

Just that in the art world, the idea of "selling out" as it were, is nothing really new. For what its worth, even in non mob related art industries, every group has its share of vultures, waiting to prey on those who would like to be famous. Nothin' new under the sun.

Daniel said...

Overthrow the ruling classes, Renegade? Haven't you read The Brothers Karamazov? We humans need to be ruled otherwise we become unruly.

Cheers.

The New Centrist said...

Mr. Khan is seriously out of touch. Do you know if he even lives in India or is he from Pakistan?

“It is no coincidences that during this phase of Capitalism’s decay and degeneration, even cultural activities have been mired by greed and vulgarity…”

Capitalism is actually booming in India right now. I’ve been to the country a few times since the market opened to foreign investment and the amount of change in such a short amount of time is astounding. Investment continues, the middle-class is expanding, and TATA is set to purchase Jaguar and Land Rover.

But what do you expect from Marxists? They’ve been predicting the imminent collapse of capitalism for, well, over a century now.

“Bollywood movies are almost all corny musicals, if I ain't mistaken. They need to expand their repertoire.”

My wife is Indian. You may not understand this but Indian movies are produced for Indian consumers. These are the style of movies many Indians love. There is more serious stuff too, but the mass audience prefers the singing and dancing. When my relatives are watching the films at home, they’ll often skip the dialogue and just watch the singing and dancing. This *is* what the people want. The producers don’t need to waste money on “focus groups,” they can keep churning out musical after musical and Indians will continue to love them.

The comment about nobody learning how to play the piano if they have "daily access" to television is simply silly. There have always been diversions from practicing.

Farmer John said...

G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d, G_d

...is Great! Isn't that what you meant mim? LOL!

Renegade Eye said...

Farmer: There is no ambiguity about which G-D is yours.

Daniel: There is always individual tragedy.

Centrist: Thank you for visiting my blog. I used to be in the B-52 left myself once.

The writer is Pakistani.

The new economy in India doesn't touch the vast majority of people living on 15 Rupees a day, or the 45% of children who are malnourished.

I like Bollywood movies and escapism myself.

Anok said...

Hey Farmer, throw a few more Gods in there and you'll be workin' your way up to my religion ;)

Of course, you'll have to pay homage to all of them on a regular basis - as you would be the religious newbie.

bollywoodfoodclub said...

Thanks for your comment and for visiting our blog. The article on your site on Bollywood was interesting; unfortunately I think some of the information was not quite correct. For example, Sajawal Khan states in the article that about Bollywood movies that, “Most of the movies are shot either in Europe or America so that money can be transferred abroad.” That is incorrect. Some movies are filmed abroad, certainly not most. I think had the author known more about the genre, it would have been a more impressive article. For a better understanding of the issue of money laundering and underworld involvement in Bollywood, I would recommend,

MAXIMUM CITY, by Suketu Mehta

http://www.suketumehta.com/

or

Bollywood: A History, by Mihir Bose

http://www.amazon.com/Bollywood-History-Mihir-Bose/dp/0752428357

Both of these books contain a fuller understanding and explanation of the issue discussed in Sajawal Khan’s article.

BTW Renegade Eye, I didn’t notice any Bollywood or Indian cinema movies listed in your profile’s favorite movies!

All the best!
Sita-ji

Renegade Eye said...

BollywoodFood Club: My favorite Bollywood movie is Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. I'll add it tonight to my favorites. I cried at the end.

My post is dated. It was written several years ago.

I will add your blog to my blogroll, because you are MN based, and I can keep track of activities. I do like your blog.

bollywoodfoodclub said...

Renegade, thanks for the add. I’m not surprised that your favorite movie is Lagaan. After all, you appear to be a revolutionary!

You should check out Mangal Pandey and Rang de Basanti. They’re both Aamir Khan movies with revolutionary aspects and acts of rebellion.

bollywoodfoodclub said...

Sukriya Renegade! Nice admission about Lagaan, Renegade, and good recommendations Nandini. I'm sure you may have been screaming out from your dil Nandini, that Renegade may not know that Bollywood is a cornucopia of revolutionary and gangster films. Revolutionaries and gangsters are closely related cousins, hain na? So Renegage Eye, with pleasure I recommend some of the better revolutionary and /or gangster underworld films from my beloved India:

1. Sholay, 1975
2. Don, 1978
3. Don - The Chase Begins Again, 2006
4. Dev, 2004
5. Sarkar,2005
6. Khakee, 2003
7. Dil Se, 1998
8. Apaharan, 2005
9. Black Friday , 2004
10. Bandit Queen, 1994
11. Omkara, 2006
12. Traffic Signal, 2007
13. Page 3 , 2005
14. Fanaa, 2006
15. Lawaaris, 1981
16. Zanjeer , 1973
17. Deewaar, 1975
18. 3 Deewarein, 2003
19. and let’s not forget Mother India,1957, even that is revolutionary!

Jai Hind! Long live the revoution!
Fondly, Sita-ji

p.s., maybe you'll want to catch "Halla Bol!" which is showing in Brooklyn Center all weekend, it looks to be political and revolutionary.
http://bollywoodfoodclub.wordpress.com/movie-times/

Renegade Eye said...

Bollywoodfoodclub: We'll have a belated celebration of Indian independence.

Farmer John said...

Farmer: There is no ambiguity about which G-D is yours.

Sure there is. I'm a Platonist.

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Anonymous said...

What the heck?!?!?! Bollywood is the best movie producer of all times. And nobody has the right to criticize it, even Indians themselves...

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W. Kasper said...

As a film buff who knows hardly anything about Bollywood, this is very interesting.

Would you say the way films are financed effects the ideology of the films themselves? Hollywood movies do seem to be veering towards the fascistic (imagery, themes etc) with the influence of hedge fund financing (like Legendary Pictures) or co-operation from the Pentagon or the police. In fact, US movies seem even more right-wing than I'm used to these days.