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Welcome! This blog is for Professor Rashna Richards’s advanced Film Studies course, From Hollywood to Bollywood and Halfway Back Again: Cross-Cultural Remakes and Transnational Media Flows, at Rhodes College.

Remakes have always been popular in Hollywood; they are usually safe commercial bets, repeating successful formulas and emphasizing cinema’s ability to shape and reshape the cultural imagination. They might even be seen, as Leo Braudy does, as metaphorically reflecting “the history and culture of this self-made and self-remade country.” But what about remakes that cross cultural and national boundaries? How do they translate and appropriate foreign materials? How do they negotiate the balance between repetition and difference?

This course will consider the aesthetic and ideological dynamics of cross-cultural remakes. We will begin the semester with a variety of historical, theoretical, and critical perspectives on the remake as a formative genre in filmmaking. Then, we will focus on Bollywood cinema’s appropriations of Hollywood films. Remaking a Hollywood film in Bollywood involves much more than simply translating it into Hindi or reconstructing its narrative to conform to Indian cultural practices. Cross-cultural remakes recast, adapt, and make over American popular culture, and such cinematic border crossings have significant implications for our understanding of how cultures embrace and resist, borrow from and interact with each other in an era of globalization. Rather than regarding these usually unlicensed Bollywood remakes as uncritical homage or derivative plagiarism, we will examine them within wider debates about the transnational flows of media; the intersecting, intertextual nature of cinematic productions; and the hybridizing character of cultural exchange. Finally, in light of the recent success of Slumdog Millionaire, we will examine how Bollywood is being appropriated by Western popular culture.

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