In the article “Planet Bollywood,” Jigna Desai argues how Bollywood films are becoming increasingly popular with the second-generation South Asian Americans because the contents of these films have changed in order to appeal to the diasporic communities, who are recognize as a significant part of India’s political economy. She explains how the West was often depicted as a “contaminating and corrupting place” and NRI’s (nonresident Indians) are often portrayed as “immoral and corrupt” since they have “lost their connections to India, its ‘traditions,’ and their families by virtue of their presence in the decadent West” (58) However, recent trends have shown that this is no longer the case and the West is now “just another location inhabited by the Indian nation” (Desai 59). Although Desai is just referring to India and Indian films, the points she made can also be related to other Asian cultures.
I think that one of the main reasons why these films were unpopular with the second generation Asian-Americans is simply because it was difficult for us to relate to them. Westernized Asians are antagonized in these films; thus, these films hold no appeal to the second-generation audience. However, these trends have changed; rather than further alienating the second generations, the film industries are now targeting the second-generations and the westernized Asians are now portrayed in these films as somewhat more refined and educated compared to the natives. With these changes to the films’ content, the films become more appealing to the second-generations.
The reason why the diasporic communities consume these films is often attributed to nostalgia. However, with the second-generation Asians, the reason is not nostalgia since most have not even set foot in their home county and even if they have, the amount of time that was spent there is minimal compared to the amount of time we spend in the US. Instead, the main reason for us to consume these films is curiosity. By watching these films, we are able to learn more about our heritage and establish a better connection with it.