The Indian Economy Blog

May 5, 2006

Bollywood and Indian Economy

Filed under: Business,Economic History,Growth,Labour market — Naveen @ 3:57 am

What is common between these films?

Garam Hawa (1940); Naya Daur (1957); Upkaar (1967); Namak Haram (1973); Jane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983); Damini (1993); Gupt (1997); Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000); Rang de Basanti (2006)

As you might have guessed, each of these films portray the socio-economic realities of India in their times or have a relevant policy back-drop in them. Naya Daur has the backdrop of the Industrial Policy Resolution; Namak Haram captures the policy Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition Act), 1970; Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron stems from the Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act, 1976; Damini is about the frustration with the judicial system and Rang de Basanti, well, about the “system” itself. I always wondered if there was a documentary feature that captured the portrayal of political economy in Bollywood movies through the last 50 years.

It took a couple of economists to do that.

When I first saw “Indian Economic Transition through Bollywood Eyes” I was bemused especially by the portrayal of the business-man in the last half-century. Overall, the documentary is not a great one but is definitely novel in its effort. Amir Ullah Khan and Bibek Debroy’s Indian Economic Transition through Bollywood Eyes: Hindi films and how they have reflected changes in India’s political economy makes for very interesting reading on the same subject. It offers a different perspective on the attitudes and Acts in India through the last 50 years. I wish somebody would make a really good documentary on this theme.


  1. ” It offers a different perspective on the attitudes and Acts in India through the last 50 years. I wish somebody would make a really good documentary on this theme.”
    I really wish it too. Well, It is the viewers who are mainly responsible for this. They are too much obsessed with the glamour and beauty of Bolllywood movies. Many farmers in South India
    committed suicide in the last five years
    because they were unable to pay
    their loans. In Indian movies we never see this kind of real life depiction.

    Comment by Razib Ahmed — May 5, 2006 @ 11:09 pm

  2. [...] 997); Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000); Rang de Basanti (2006) ????????? ????????? ???????.. ?????????? [...]

    Pingback by ?????? - Gilli » Bollywood and Indian Economy — May 6, 2006 @ 10:42 am

  3. There have been far more Hindi movies dealing with socio-economic realities of India than are Hollywood movies dealing with the same topic in America. In fact, the harsh economic realities of India have provided such a quick and easy formula for serious films that other, equally significant issues were rarely tackled. For example, mental and psychological issues, more universal in their scope than a country’s economy, have been addressed only by the greatest Indian moviemakers – Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen, Girish Karnad, etc.

    Thanks for writing on my two favorite subjects – movies and economics.

    Comment by Sarat — May 7, 2006 @ 4:53 pm

  4. Gosh, please never put Bollywood and soft power in the same sentence…

    Bollywood films are so grossly bad even my girlfriend refuses to watch (her parents are originally from india, btw)

    Your movies are just BAD, gosh.. you guys need a reality check.. Nobody here in US would pay to watch your Bollywood movies…

    Comment by Jason — May 10, 2006 @ 12:35 am

  5. A fantastic study and a detailed research paper. Just wanted to know if any update is available on the same. Any video, film, documentary…pls let me know. Would love to share the same with students and may be invite you for a lecture on the same.

    Comment by Prof. Amarkant Jain — June 14, 2006 @ 8:01 pm

  6. Hello Prof. Amarkant:

    There is a video available of the same content. You should contact for more details on the same. The video may not be as good as the paper but it would be sufficient to ignite ideation on this front.

    Comment by Naveen — June 17, 2006 @ 5:20 am

  7. Mass. gets an ‘F’ for college affordability
    WASHINGTON – Massachusetts received a failing grade for chlamydia affordability” but earned an A in every other category in a recent report on chlamydia education.

    Comment by chlamydia — September 18, 2006 @ 1:37 pm

  8. hi naveen,can u plz tell us what is the connotation behind adding up a complete masala flick like “Gupt” in ur trend-setting movie list?

    Comment by sharmi — July 5, 2007 @ 3:53 pm

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