Just around the corner where I live there is a grocery store run by Hindustani people who came from Surinam to Holland in the 60s and 70s. One corner of this store is transformed to a Bollywood dvd-store. It offers a huge range of films, classics till the latest, and they are offered for the rediculous price of 10 euros for 4. (I wont try to figure out how this is possible, but the photocopied covers say enough.) For me, one of the few white Bollywood freaks, this is great. It saves me a lot of waiting for the download to be finished. But ofcourse, the main market are the ones that watch these films the most, the people from Surinam. Now, I have always wondered, why do people who have not so much of a bonding to India, love these movies so much? The current generation is born in The Netherlands and has hardly a bond with Surinam anymore, and not even close to one with India.
Last week I attended a lecture by Sanderien Verstappen, a Dutch woman who graduated with an anthropological study on the meaning of Bollywood for these Hindustani youth. She explained that the Indianness of these films is not interesting to them at all. The main reason for them watching is the portrayal of the family, which relates to them much more than the nuclear and distant families in Hollywood or an average Dutch soap. The films show children struggling with parental pressure, or family that is always around, which is an actual reality for them. The most beautiful quote was of a girl who had said: 'Why i watch Bollywood? To feel normal!'
A great example of how films can mean different things to different people, but also on how Bollywood appeals to many of these different people at the same time. Unity in diversity, as India likes to describe itself.