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CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR ASSIGNMENT What is the impact of western films on urban youth in India? Identify


CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR ASSIGNMENT What is the impact of western films on urban youth in India? Identify

What is the impact of western films on urban youth in India? Identify the consumption of two products in different categories that reflect it.


Section-F, Vth Semester Jain University-center for Management Studies

October 2011


The emergence of cinema in India goes back to the late 18 th century and the early 19 th century. In fact the emergence of Indian cinema can be attributed to the Lumiere Brothers. Only a few months after the Lumiere brothers introduced the art of cinematography in Paris in 1895, cinema made its presence felt in India, the Lumiere brothers held their first public screening at Mumbai’s Watson Hotel on July 7, 1896 and the Times of India referred to it as the “Miracle of the Century”.

By 1898, after the Indian society saw the emergence of new directors and producers such as Harischandra S. Bhatvadekhar, F.B. Thanawala and Hiralal Sen, the Indian audience was greatly exposed to the western cinema. In fact the audience had a great fascination to see Indian experiences on screen and sure enough, by exploiting this desire, R.G. Tomey released the first ever mythological film titled, “Pundalik” and of course next came the famous and the first full length Indian feature film, “Raja Harischandra” in 1913. It is however very interesting to notice that during that early phase of cinema, most of the films created across the continents drew heavily from Indian elements and tried to incorporate Indian sceneries, cultures and people.

Over the years there was a great change in the way the films were made which can be attributed to ever changing public demands, changes in the society and the intellectual renaissance. By the turn of the century, Indian movies greatly differed from their Hollywood counterparts. Although the overall themes remained quite the same, direction, screenplay and content made the movies quite different from each other.

Eventually the Indian cinema found a new competitor in the Western cinema. Owing to the sheer size of the Indian population, in numbers, Indian cinema was quite far ahead. Western cinema however had a niche industry in India at the early phase. Most of the western films that were screened during the early 19 th century were typically appealing to the Anglo Indians as well as the upper classes of the Indian society. These western cinemas were the last remnants of candid and heavily romantic themed styles of western cinemas that soon became obsolete once the Technicolor Company came in view and the films were made in colour after that. The high class society and the last of the British people associated themselves with these last of the classics and in them the western films found a sympathetic audience. Gradually the new western films found their way into the Indian cinema scene and now watching a Hollywood

movie was not a thing of royalty anymore. Indian movies too adapted the new styles and there was a phase when the fashion, themes and plots were almost the same. The Indian Movie, “Main Azaad hoon” was a complete rip off from the Hollywood movie, Meet John Doe, 1941. Similarly, “Kyun Ki” was an adaptation of the famous Jack Nicholson Starrer, One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest, 1975.

By the time the mainstream western cinemas found their way into India, they had already begun to influence the Indian people and particularly the youth. The 60s saw the Indian youth experimenting with the styles prevailing in the west. Cimarron, 1960 is a movie that influenced the frenzy for leather and cowboy hats among the youth. Flaming Star, 1960 was a famous Elvis Presley starrer and it created quite a scene with the fashion. Apparently this movie also created an issue with the youth taking up sides with one parent as compared to the movie’s main plotline. The Misfits, 1961, a glamorous movie starring Marilyn Monroe gave the Indian audience seduction and eye-candy that was never seen before. The movie’s plot line was about a divorcee falling for a cowboy, and the Indian female youth went gaga over the concept. Movies like Hud, 1963 and A Fistful of Dollars, 1964 brought in a sense of heroism and ego in the Indian youth.

The male youth was greatly influenced by the styles of the famous actors at that point of time. Robert De Niro, Jeff Bridges, Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Woody Allen, Paul Newman, Gregory Pack, Sidney Poitier, Clint Eastwood, Robert Dwayne. Bell bottoms, fancy shirt, great shades. And a continental to roam about if you could afford one. As for the more casual types, denims and leather were the perfect combination with the Avalon hairstyle, and not to mention some rugged boots and lots of metal. The Indian youth was exposed to something that was never ever conceived in India and which took the crowd by a wave. As for the female youth in the 60s, many of the sultry seductresses of the western movies were the role models for the glamour deprived female youth of India. Ursula Andress, Raquel Welch, Betty Page, Jayne Mansfield to name a few were the most sought after and followed celebrities. Since very few R- rated western films found their way deep into India at that point of time, the small towns and cities were content with other glamorous actresses such as, Audrey Hepburn, Faye Dunaway, Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Andrews, Goldie Hawn to name a few. The fashion, if you were really flamboyant would be retro glasses, most commonly the “Catty” styled theme glasses, a scarf around your hair tied in the Bouffant style, or the Pixie or the most common of them all,

Shoulder Length Bob. The scarf would be polka dotted; if you were affluent you’d be rolling in a Cadillac, a glitzy clutch on your hand, and a knee length body hugging dress. If you were on the casual side, the fashion adopted from the western cinema was jean shorts, leather as usual and other wise a very colourful hippie styled dress.

Food habits remained largely uninfluenced because the average western food, burgers, fries, ice cream soda, steak, barbeques etc. were not so easily available at that point of time. Over the years once, these were widely available in the Indian market, people got crazy for it.

It is quite interesting to notice, and these views are completely mine so many might disagree, that the only thing that really impacted the Indian youth at that point of time was just fashion and music. It might also be mentioned that even the west was in its nascent stage of modern recreations that would eventually impact the Indian youth in a big way. As the world grew closer, thanks to liberalization and globalization, these things found their way into India. Some were good, some were bad but nevertheless the Indian youth had a whole world of glamour open to them, thanks to the western cinema.

Trainspotting, 1996 and Requiem for a Dream, 2000 revolutionized the drug scene for the youth in India. The urban classes were already living on alcohol and very few ultra-modernists were experimenting with Meth, LSD, Ecstasy. These two movies made everyone aware of the forbidden joys and the demand for these drugs went up. Marijuana was already among the youth by the time Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix came into the scene. As a whole, most of the drug scene and the intoxications can be said to have been made popular among the Indian youth by the western cinema. This does not however open the western cinema for criticism at any level of justification.

The Matrix, 1999 created quite a furore among the Indian geeks. Everyone developed the craze for computers, hackers, alternate reality after the Matrix series of movies came. It gave the Indian youth even more new aspects to fantasize on. Technology awareness was in the scene after The Terminator, 1984 was released. Robotics, machines and guns was much of a craze for the youth after these movies were released. Fantasy and the wonderland found a great audience for the youth when movies such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1974 and Dragonheart, 1996 were released. Books, clubs, merchandise, anything related to these found a great audience among the Indian youth. It is quite

interesting to observe how the Indian youth was so greatly impacted and lured by the western aspects in the films. Coming to modern times, The American Pie, 1999 till American Pie presents:

Book of Love, 2009 appealed to the urban youth in more than one ways. These movies are a depiction of the free-sex society in the United States and being of that nature was a great hit among the Indian urban youth. These movies can be said to influence the trends of casual sexual relationships, teen pregnancy, multiple sex partners and others to name a few. Although these movies show an exaggerated version of the scene there, it was received overwhelmingly by the Indian youth and they sought to copy the ‘lifestyle’. Other movie such as Road Trip, 2000 and EuroTrip, 2004 depicts the casual university lifestyle in the west. Taking cue from it, many urban Indian youths have adopted this concept of taking a year off after graduating from high school to travel abroad to broaden their knowledge and perceptions. The concept of Road Trip is also another concept drawn from the west where a group of friends take a trip on the highway in a car and look forward to different adventures on the way. Bachelor Parties, a party with your closest friends before a guy gets married in order to enjoy the delights, mostly of a sexual theme infused with lots of alcohol and fun before you are put in the ‘jail’ of marriage is a total concept drawn from the west. Bachelor Party, 1984 starring Tom Hanks is one of the earliest movies depicting this concept. Bachelor Party Vegas, 2006 is another such movie which also adds more sugar to the already hyped city of Las Vegas, a favourite destination for the party hungry urban youth. Recently, the Bollywood movie, “Zindagi Mili Na Dobara”, 2011 also portrayed the same concept.

As a whole, it is seen that many of the Indian urban youth’s delights and recreational activities are heavily derived from the conventions in the west which is brought forward by the western cinema. It is up to individual perception to consider these as right or wrong. Western cinema can’t be held responsible for decline in tradition or loss in culture, if any. It is up to oneself to draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not, but nevertheless, these movies have impacted the Indian urban youth in a great way and how.


While people have been trying to find out the impact of the western movies, on the underlying side of it is the prospering economy that is achieved by the demands of certain products that has come forward as a result of the influences these movies have on the Indian youth.

Product 01: Jeans/Denims Industry: Fashion

What could be a better way to set an example then the jeans itself? The Texas miners never thought that their humble uniform jeans will be so famous worldwide. Jeans has the reputation of being the only thing garment in the history of fashion to have never gone out of style. The demand for jeans grew soon after the, “Greaser” fashion became prevalent in the west. It was a working class subculture prevalent in the youth. The dress code included White or black T-shirts (often with the sleeves rolled up); white A-shirts (as outerwear); ringer T-shirts, Italian knit shirts; Daddy-O-style shirts; black, blue or khaki work jackets, black or brown trenchcoats, Levi denim jackets; leather jackets; blue or black Levi's 501 jeans (with rolled-up cuffs anywhere from one to four inches); and baggy cotton twill work trousers.

In fact the John Travolta starrer musical, Grease, 1978 was one such movie portraying the greaser fashion. And then how can one forget the famous Johnny Depp starrer, Cry Baby, 1990. The movie, Better off Dead, 1985, starring John Cusack, though a light teen comedy, also portrayed the jean revolution slowly coming over. Until recently, the movie, The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants, 2005, also romanticized jeans.

Exploiting the demands for jeans, many companies came to the scene, Levi Strauss & Co was the first one and their Levi 501 jean was the most famous of them all and created quite a stir. And after that many other companies joined the revolution such as True Religion, Wrangler Jeans, Diesel, Calvin Klein, and Legendary Gold Jeans and until recently Apple Bottoms by the famous rapper Nelly.

Product02: Burgers/Fries Industry: Foods and Beverages

From the comic relief of Robin Williams cooking dinner dressed as Mrs Doubtfire, 1993 to Meg Ryan moaning over apple pie in When Harry met Sally, 1989 food can shape the story as in Julie & Julia, 2009 or provide essential character development like what happened in Goodfellas, 1990.

In fact food has been a quite an important part in movies from the west. Right from Babette’s Feast, 1987 to Ratatouille, 2007 food has been portrayed in a good light and much to our delight.

The foods portrayed however are impeccable, designed and let us just say ‘royal’. From where else we could have seen delightful Foie Gras, Beluga Caviar, Sushi etc. But since these were not widely available, we had to be content with just looking at them, but then the American way of eating came over and soon burgers, fries, coke, beef jerky, ice cream soda etc. became accessible as well as famous.

The typical American diner or Deli, as it is known over there was one of the locations of a romantic chat or an undercover meeting or just a brainstorming location as it was portrayed in the movies. Burgers and fries were the most common of them all in these shots accompanied by coke. Gradually these became a trend and gradually, burgers and fries soon became the standard snack perfectly apt for a quick bite. Easy on the wallet, convenient for time and well, a bit hard for the health. But nevertheless, burgers and fries dominated the fast food market.

McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway and Wendy’s etc. are the big names for burgers and fries and these foods are here to stay because, no one can really get over a yummy burger, some fries a coke and a good chat. So as such, this becomes the second product that is heavily inspired by the west and their corresponding portrayal in the cinemas.

Shahrukh Soheil Rahman Semester V, Section F Jain University, Bangalore


www.imdb.com www.able2know.org

“Introduction of Cinema in India” from indianetzone.com

List of Movies included:

Meet John Doe, 1941

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975

Cimarron, 1960

Flaming Star, 1960

The Misfits, 1961

Hud, 1963

A Fistfull of Dollars, 1964

Trainspotting, 1996

Requiem for a Dream, 2000

The Matrix, 1999

The Terminator, 1984

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1974

Dragonheart, 1996

American Pie, 1999

American Pie Presents: Book Of Love, 2009

Road Trip, 2000

Eurotrip, 2004

Bachelor Party, 1984

Bachelor Party Vegas, 2006

Zindagi Na Mili Dobara, 2011

Grease, 1978

Cry Baby, 1990

Better off Dead, 1985

The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants, 2005

Mrs Doubtfire, 1993

When Harry Met Sally, 1989

Julie and Julia, 2009

Goodfellas, 1990

Babette’s Feast, 1987

Ratatouille, 2007

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