Demonstrated: How Bollywood Denigrates Indian Culture And Identity

Bollywood, the “face” of Indian cinema, is popular among Indians for the size of its ego than the quality of its films. It stirs out an astounding 1000+ forgettable movies each year, more by quantity than quality, hoping some drivel will entertain the billions it relentlessly loots because of its monopoly. 

Most of its stars aren’t talented as despotic, its directors don’t inspire so much as assault the senses, and its musicians could lull an insomniac to sleep. It claims to celebrate Indian culture and identity – but mostly caricatures them for the sake of fooling in on nationalism.

Bollywood hates Indian culture and identity. It is a distorted and diluted version of Indian culture, catering to the lowest common denominator of mass appeal and commercial success. 

Here, we demonstrate why.

Bollywood’s Denigration of Indian Traditions and Values

Bollywood has made a business out of degrading and demonizing Indian culture and identity. Rather than respectfully explore traditions and values, it gleefully tramples them for shock value and self-righteous social commentary. Any complex issue related to religion, caste, family, or sexuality is reduced to crude caricatures to feed audiences’ basest instincts of moral superiority and cultural contempt.

Take for example Bollywood’s “masterpieces” of cultural vandalism: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) was accused of promoting love jihad through its plotline. Kabir Singh (2019) faced backlash for seemingly endorsing toxic masculinity and drug and physical abuse in relationships.

Bollywood’s denigration shows not enlightenment but ignorance – a willful disregard for cultural contexts in favor of crude propaganda. Rather than respectfully explore traditions from within, it adopts a smugly superior Western lens to reduce complex issues to cardboard cutouts.

Its “social messages” are less commentary than cultural vandalism dressed in liberal drag.

Inferiority Complex Towards the West

Bollywood suffers from a profound case of inferiority complex so severe it’s funny. Rather than cultivate confidence in its own rich cultural heritage and storytelling traditions, it remains obsessed with looking to the West and Hollywood for validation like a desperate, attention-starved teenager.

The evidence of its plagiarism pandemic is so blatant even the visually impaired could spot it: from shameless Mission ripoffs to beat-for-beat Knocked Up knockoffs, Bollywood has raised copyright theft to an art form. But lacking original ideas, it’s no surprise the crutch of copying is its sole means of hobbling from one film to the next. For example, some of the recent examples of Bollywood films that have been alleged to be copied from Hollywood films are:

  • War (2019) from Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
  • Bharat (2019) from Ode to My Father (2014)
  • Luka Chuppi (2019) from Knocked Up (2007)
  • Badla (2019) from The Invisible Guest (2016)
  • Baaghi 2 (2018) from The Raid: Redemption (2011)

Worst of all, its imitations are so inept they qualify as parodies—of parodies even Hollywood wouldn’t touch. But Bollywood’s true talent lies not in filmmaking but in failure-making, churning out mediocre rehashes that make the originals look like cinematic masterpieces in comparison.

Bollywood’s Stereotyping and Marginalizing of Indian Communities

Another way Bollywood shows its utter disregard for Indian culture and identity is through its tired trope of stereotyping and sidelining entire communities.

With its myopic and prejudiced view of India’s diversity, Bollywood seems stuck in a bygone era, stubbornly refusing to evolve beyond crude generalizations and exaggerations. Instead of acknowledging our manifold regions, languages, faiths, and classes with appreciation, it treats our differences as props or punchlines for its poorly conceived plots.

For reference, some of the Bollywood films that have stereotyped and marginalized Indian communities are:

  • Chennai Express (2013) (made fun of the Tamil language and culture)
  • Udta Punjab (2016) (depicted Punjab as a drug-infested and violent state)
  • Padmaavat (2018) (glorified the Rajput community and vilified the Muslim community)
  • Gully Boy (2019) (romanticized the slum, drug, and rap culture of Mumbai)
  • Thugs of Hindostan (2018) (portrayed the Indian freedom fighters as pirates and traitors)

Through its lazy reliance on stereotypes as a substitute for nuanced storytelling, Bollywood has shown itself woefully unaware of – and seemingly uninterested in – India’s true cultural richness and diversity. Exploiting social divisions for entertainment or pushing political agendas, it continues peddling a narrow, prejudiced vision of an India that deserves far better representation.

Promotion of Unrealistic and Unhealthy Lifestyles and Expectations

Another way our beloved Bollywood does Indian culture a disservice is by peddling unrealistic aspirations and unhealthy ideals, often painting our picture with too rosy a brush. It seems Hindi cinema has developed something of a fantasy regarding romance, beauty, success, and happiness. Rather than reflect reality in all its complexity, Bollywood prefers to glorify these aspects of Indian life, glossing over the challenges we face.

Promoting unattainable lifestyles shows a lack of grounding. It’s almost as if Bollywood wants to live in a dream rather than deal with pesky truths. As the biggest voice in Indian media, it must represent us authentically. But alas, too often it has let us down, falling for Western fads, disrespecting traditions, stereotyping communities, and spreading falsehoods.

Indian industry could use a dose of self-awareness. Perhaps it’s time Bollywood looked in the mirror and committed to portraying India and Indians as we truly are – with all our colors, contradictions, and complexity. Instead of making us cringe, it could make us proud.


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