Global Bollywood: Travels of Hindi Song and Dance
Within its suitably disjunctive cover, Global Bollywood examines the local and global meanings of "Bollywood" song and dance (broadly, the popular performance and mediated culture of the Mumbai film industry). The editors successfully address the "Bollywood" label in their introduction. Although this is not a work of ethnomusicology, much of the content in this volume should contribute to the increasing number of courses on Bollywood music being taught by ethnomusicologists. The introductory essay by Gopal and Moorti is, perhaps, the best overview to date of the multifaceted histories and meanings of Hindi song and dance. The subsequent twelve essays are organized around three themes.
"Home Terrains" examines historical and industrial aspects of film, film music, and popular music in India. "Eccentric Orbits" offers three fascinating accounts of the roles played by Hindi films, songs, and dance in other culture industries (Egyptian cinema, Indonesian dangdut, and Israeli advertising). "Planetary Consciousness" will be of special interest to students of the Indian diaspora as it focuses on Bollywood's performative, queer/gendered, racial, and musical presences in the West. [End Page 168]
Collectively, these essays contribute significantly to our understanding of the complexity of Bollywood's production and reception. Some are outstanding, such as Basu's in-depth analysis of the 1998 release, Dil Se, and Shresthova's excellent case study of the transformation of "Bollywood dance" into a performance art for young diasporic South Asians (and others). Also noteworthy are Bhattacharjya's and Mehta's examination of interactions among the culture industries and the state in relation to national identity and Armbrust's fascinating account of Bollywood's orientalized "silliness" in Egyptian culture. Other essays, however, needed more editorial input for various reasons. Morcom's condensation of a chapter from her 2007 volume on film music is available elsewhere. Sen's attempt to "trace the history of popular [film] music" reveals fatal weaknesses in historical and (ethno)musicological theory.
As with any edited volume, I could offer additional minor quibbles about redundancy, consistency in translation, connectivity, and some lacunae (dance and performance get short shrift here). These are minor quibbles indeed, however, for a volume that will contribute significantly to the study of Bollywood across a range of disciplines.
Gregory Booth is an associate professor of ethnomusicology at The University of Auckland, specializing in contemporary South Asian music culture. He is the author of Brass Baja: Stories from the World of Indian Wedding Bands (Oxford University Press, 2005) and Behind the Curtain: Making Music in Mumbai's Film Studios (Oxford University Press, 2008). In addition, he has published articles on film music, processional music, film structure, orality and music cognition, and the transmission of Hindustani classical music (tabla) in journals such as Ethnomusicology, Asian Music, Popular Music, The Psychology of Music, and Asian Folklore Studies.