Transcending Boundaries

Perspectives on contemporary Bollywood tourism

The act of traveling to places popularized by Hindi films has been prevalent for the longest time and still remains one of the prime motivators for film audiences to turn into tourists seeking experiences similar to the ones onscreen.

HINDI FILMS

The act of traveling to places popularized by Hindi films has been prevalent for the longest time and still remains one of the prime motivators for film audiences to turn into tourists seeking experiences similar to the ones onscreen. One could exemplify this trend by speaking of the very famous Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995); the movie that introduced the Indian mass audiences to the enchanting land of Europe. It was regarded as one of the most influential films that ushered the influx of Indian film audiences/tourists to Switzerland. Such examples from the past, still find relevance in the present scenario. In 2013, over 4.6 million overnight stays in Switzerland were recorded by tourists from India, and visitations to the specific locations glorified by the film made its way into every Indian travel itinerary.  This is telling of the influence films has, defying all spatio-temporal logics.

BOLLYWOOD TOURISM

This along with similar other cases are only reflective of a huge trend that has given an impetus to a tourist’s imagination, and therefore movement and border crossing in directions that cinema leads them in. For decades, the make-believe world of Bollywood has inspired various facets of the society, be it song and dance, professions, or even the way of holidaying; and this also has received unwavering scholarly attention. However, the domain of ‘Bollywood tourism’ remains rather untouched in the academic circle-which is where this project finds place. It does so by attempting to shift focus from an otherwise west-centric field of study, and have a non-western take on film tourism by studying the interplay of film discourse, tourism and film audiences of Bollywood cinema with a common thread of ‘Transnationalism’ holding the project. In fact, with Indians making up the largest diaspora in the world, this project finds answers to the question, “how do the diasporic communities appropriate the mediatized image of their homeland?”, by tapping into the ideas of home and belonging. A part of this project will also shed light on how ‘the west’ is portrayed in Bollywood, thereby creating notions of ‘the west’ in the minds of the sizable Indian middle class urging them (or not) to move westwards. This is a rather fresh perspective as opposed to the stereotyped image of India, the west has time and again cultivated. At the spine of this project, the theory of ‘Imagination’ finds relevance as to how these media narratives cognitively and affectively impact audiences.
This study attempts to achieve the above by employing emerging methods of study such as the respondent video journal, and diary studies, along with ethnography and interview methods.