Gender, Globalization and Media in the Indian Diaspora
2. Reading out of Place: Global Media and Diasporic Identity
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Reading out of Place: Global Media and Diasporic Identity
On January 17, 2012, passengers on the Finnair Flight AY201 from Helsinki to New Delhi were caught by surprise as the flight attendants, mostly dressed in salwar kameezes came dancing through the aisles as the Bollywood song, Deewangi Deewangi played through the cabin loud speakers. Apparently, this was a rehearsed and choreographed affair by Finnair to commemorate the Indian Republic Day. Helena Kaartinen, the flight attendant who allegedly came up with the idea, was quoted as saying that “it was a good way to show respect,” and to express to Finnair’s Indian passengers “that we do know some things about them.”1 From barely registering on the Western media and marketing radar, Bollywood has in recent years become highly visible. The ubiquity with which Bollywood has become a representative sign for India in general was revealed in all its absurdity at a 2009 trade fair organized by India’s Ministry of Defense. An Israeli arms maker, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, displayed a marketing video on large screen televisions featuring a Bollywood-style song-and-dance number performed by Israeli artists singing about Indo-Israeli defense trade relationships.2 Consider how for both Finnair and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Bollywood becomes a stand-in symbol for Indian culture. If the Western imagination of India in the 1970s revolved around gurus, god-men, and Ravi Shankar jamming with the Beatles, it seems that Bollywood and outsourcing circumscribe global definitions of India in the...
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