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Rep. Ro Khanna on How Hollywood and Bollywood Face Similar Challenges – The Hollywood Reporter

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Once I determined to steer the primary delegation of lawmakers to India to have fun the nation’s Independence Day earlier this month, I knew that Bollywood needed to be a serious focus of the journey as a result of it has performed such an essential function in telling India’s story after colonialism.

Hollywood and Bollywood are among the many most influential movie industries on the planet. Together with their impression on international tradition and cinema, they’re additionally among the many most worthwhile. Final 12 months, the movie trade within the U.S. reached $6.9 billion in income whereas in India it reached $1.28 billion.

Regardless of being on reverse sides of the globe, with completely different historic and cultural contexts, they provide a cultural connection rooted in shared values. And right now, each nations are experiencing comparable challenges as new know-how emerges and so they purpose to attraction to wider audiences across the globe.

As an Indian American who grew up with immigrant dad and mom in Bucks County, PA, watching Bollywood and Hollywood movies at house was a necessary a part of understanding my identification and my household’s tradition, together with the traditions, values and the historic battle for independence.

In Mumbai, I had the respect of assembly with one among Bollywood’s best actors, Amitabh Bachchan, who has starred in over 200 movies and is a nationwide icon. A lot of his movies seize the Indian independence motion equivalent to his function as a freedom fighter in Inquilaab. He’s been a supply of empowerment for generations of Indians and folks world wide.

Bachchan spent over an hour with us and wished to speak about rising developments in know-how and filmmaking and talked concerning the cultural ties between America and India. He reminded us of his visits all through America within the ’70s and ’80s when he’d go on tour to carry out for the Indian diaspora in America. 

He gave me a e-book that was written by his father, who knew my grandfather, Amarnath Vidyalankar, an Indian Freedom Fighter who served in Mahatma Gandhi’s first parliament and was imprisoned alongside him. He instructed me how proud he was of India’s journey since independence and the way related he felt to the Indian American group. For me, assembly with Bachchan was as momentous as assembly with the Prime Minister.

Bachchan’s life story embodies the story of India. His life has paralleled the maturing of a younger nation, starring in movies since 1969, together with movies on Indian independence. Now, 54 years later, he’s internet hosting Kaun Banega Crorepati, the lengthy operating Indian model of Who Desires to Be a Millionaire?, and nonetheless one of the preferred Indian reveals. 

Simply as artwork, movie and theater present an outlet for expression within the U.S., the identical is true in India. Bachchan and leaders in Bollywood reveal how essential it’s for a thriving democracy to have the ability to snigger at itself and to nurture types of expression by which folks can query authority and speak concerning the significance of human dignity and household.

We will see widespread values and themes in a few of the hottest movies in our two nations like Barbie and Bollywood’s Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani. As Barbie struggles together with her identification and societal norms, Rani in Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani navigates her need for independence, her personal identification and her household’s conventional values. Each promote a message of feminine empowerment and the significance of self-discovery.

We will additionally see this connection in values with the films PK and OppenheimerPK is a satirical science-fiction movie about an alien that involves earth and lands in Rajasthan with none understanding of societal norms or faith. Like Oppenheimer, PK makes us query the knowledge of the powers that be, mirror on the higher which means of life, in addition to grapple with the potential and the hazard of latest know-how.

Throughout my dialog with Bachchan, he expressed his sympathy for the putting actors and writers within the U.S. and his concern concerning the rise of AI. He spoke about how know-how has been utilized by studios who personal his picture and likeness and have put him in scenes he by no means filmed — a priority that most of the actors on strike are going through.

As a consultant of Silicon Valley, I’ve been urging leaders throughout authorities, labor and enterprise to arrange for the AI revolution and the methods that it’s going to change our financial system.

On the similar time, we should acknowledge that AI is a device that ought to improve the work of people — not substitute it. AI can’t write the subsequent Hamlet or substitute Bachchan’s appearing. Our writers and actors are important, and the studios should deal with them with dignity and pay them pretty.

What issues for the celebration of freedom, creativity and particular person expression in artwork world wide is to see the actors and writers in Hollywood and Bollywood thrive.

As lawmakers, we’ve an obligation to help this freedom of expression world wide. Our visits to international nations can’t simply be about assembly authorities leaders and enterprise leaders. We must be celebrating and increasing this artistic house.

It will deliver the folks of various nations nearer collectively and assist extra of humanity categorical their views and be empowered to stay their goals.

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