After second-year international relations major Jasmine Sawmi showed second-year communications major Oluwatofunmi Ayanfodun her first Bollywood film, Ayanfodun was addicted. When Ayanfodun began finding and watching movies on her own, the idea of a Bollywood club on campus struck the pair.
“We had the idea last semester, but we didn’t really try to create one. Then this semester someone came to me and said ‘I watch them in my room, I wish I could watch it with someone else,”Ayanfodun said. “So I said, O.K. we definitely need to create it this time because there’s obviously other people out there who watch Bollywood movies and would be interested.”
According to Sawmi, the club focuses on India’s largest film industry, which actually makes more films than Hollywood. The films mainly use the Hindi language, often mixing Hindi and English. The club plans to show these types of films in the residence halls either weekly or bi-weekly, starting with the romantic film “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.” However, they said the club is not just about enjoying films, but also fostering discussions about what appears in them.
“There are a lot of social issues. We’re not just a group that shows movies, we talk about a lot of the social and cultural aspects of the films,”Ayanfodun said. “They are body image, skin color and traditional versus Western ideas.”
Sawmi said there is a trend in Bollywood, since the‘60s there has been a cycle in which the films become modernized and then return to the old, traditional ways, but become modern again and so on.
In older films from the ‘90s, women wore traditional clothing and few actresses were willing to bare skin, now they don bikinis. Sawmi said the standards have also changed for men, as they have gotten lighter skinned, built up their bodies and walk around shirtless in some films. Appearances are not the only part of the industry that have shifted though.
“The music has changed in Bollywood too, it’s not just Hindi anymore, it’s mixed with Hindi and English. They sing in Hindi and then they have a couple of English phrases,” Sawmi said. “Some of the songs before used to be about love and finding your soulmate, now it’s about sex and that one night stand.”
The two attribute these changes to globalization, but Ayanfodun feels that the “quality is decreasing” and it is “making Bollywood less unique.” However, the club plans on going back and forth between old and more modern films to show the differences.
While the club will not be organizing any events this semester, they plan to work with other clubs such as the South Asian Cultural Association and have many ideas. Some of these include an international film week during which clubs show a film from a different country each day and a Bollywood week, which might incorporate a festival called Holi or the Festival of Colors. During this part of the week, participants would wear white and fling colors at each other.
The club held their first meeting on Thursday, Nov. 3, but will meet again on Thursday, Nov. 17 in Student Union 401/05 from 7 to 8 p.m. They hope to attract more members and show film clips and trailers as examples of what exactly Bollywood is.
“Everyone watches Bollywood movies, though a lot of people don’t know about it, Sawmi said.“But once you get to know about it, we’re hoping that people will like it and come.”