Planet Bollywood is in Yale’s orbit

Due to what professor Ashish Chadha and many others call the “Slumdog effect,” you may have noticed more Bollywood on campus lately.

Well, if you haven’t, it is a happy feeling that makes you feel all your troubles will disappear. That is how I felt when I saw the Bollywood Film Series flyer, promoting screenings co-sponsored by the South Asian Studies Council and Film Studies Program.

The flyer highlights movies that will be shown in Chadha’s “Understanding Bollywood” class. This is Chadha’s fifth semester of teaching Indian cinema on Yale’s campus, and by far his most popular: over 100 people showed up for the 25-person seminar on the first day of shopping period.

When Chadha first taught his Bollywood class, seven films were shown in 35mm format. Now, almost all of the films are exclusively 35mm.

The 35 mm prints are part of the Yale Film Studies program’s larger collection of Bollywood films — according to Chadha, “the largest Bollywood collection in the country.” A recent slew of prints were acquired after a movie theater in Orange, Conn., shut down. A Yale projectionist happened to be an employee of the theater and made the acquisition possible.

As Chadha explained, “The distributors don’t ship the prints back, so they lie in the theater.” It can cost upwards of $1,000 to ship 35mm reels back to India.

The movies in the series were chosen based on their relevance to Chadha’s course. Though he doesn’t have any personal favorites, he admits, “all of them are very, very big hits.”

If you can’t get enough of your South Asian — not just Bollywood — film fix, the South Asian Studies Council is also collaborating with the Indo-American Arts Council, based in New York, to bring a selection of the films and filmmakers that will be showcased in their annual November film festival to Yale.

Chadha said, “Bollywood is becoming so important and people are getting excited.”

Comments