Cinema India: the Art of Bollywood in London

Bollywood comes to London

The term “Bollywood” was first coined by a journalist writing for the Indian film magazine Cineblitz in the 1980s. It became an immediate buzzword, summing up a revived interest in popular Indian cinema, with all its glamorous busty stars and mustacheod heros. Even Julian Lloyd Webber has been inspired and written a musical “Bombay dreams”, now showing at the Apollo Theatre, London. Indian filmakers are said to hate the term, and how many people who use it have actually seen a Bollywood film? Now is your chance, as the British Film Institute is running a nationwide project “ImagineAsia” an eight-month celebration of the cinema cultures of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This has provided an excuse for the V&A to exhibit some of its large collection of Indian film posters (until 6 October), which it has been collecting since 1986 as part of its contemporary and popular culture collections. They are displayed unframed on scaffolding structures to evoke their original street setting, and will be serenaded by Indian song and dance music. There are also demonstrations by hoarding artists, who will paint huge advertising hoardings while viewers watch. For a contemporary take on the theme, there are contributions by Turner-prize nominee Catherine Yass, whose technicolour portraits of Bollywood stars are being exhibited for the first time.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 127 July 2002