CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR ASSIGNMENTWhat is the impact of western films on urban youth in India? Identify the consumption of two products in different categories that reflect it. SHAHRUKH SOHEIL RAHMAN Section-F, Vth Semester Jain University-center for Management Studies October 2011
PART ONEThe emergence of cinema in India goes back to the late 18th century and theearly 19th century. In fact the emergence of Indian cinema can be attributed tothe Lumiere Brothers. Only a few months after the Lumiere brothersintroduced the art of cinematography in Paris in 1895, cinema made itspresence felt in India, the Lumiere brothers held their first public screening atMumbai’s Watson Hotel on July 7, 1896 and the Times of India referred to it asthe “Miracle of the Century”.By 1898, after the Indian society saw the emergence of new directors andproducers such as Harischandra S. Bhatvadekhar, F.B. Thanawala and HiralalSen, the Indian audience was greatly exposed to the western cinema. In factthe audience had a great fascination to see Indian experiences on screen andsure enough, by exploiting this desire, R.G. Tomey released the first evermythological film titled, “Pundalik” and of course next came the famous andthe first full length Indian feature film, “Raja Harischandra” in 1913. It ishowever very interesting to notice that during that early phase of cinema,most of the films created across the continents drew heavily from Indianelements and tried to incorporate Indian sceneries, cultures and people.Over the years there was a great change in the way the films were made whichcan be attributed to ever changing public demands, changes in the society andthe intellectual renaissance. By the turn of the century, Indian movies greatlydiffered from their Hollywood counterparts. Although the overall themesremained quite the same, direction, screenplay and content made the moviesquite 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 cinemawas quite far ahead. Western cinema however had a niche industry in India atthe early phase. Most of the western films that were screened during the early19th century were typically appealing to the Anglo Indians as well as the upperclasses of the Indian society. These western cinemas were the last remnants ofcandid and heavily romantic themed styles of western cinemas that soonbecame obsolete once the Technicolor Company came in view and the filmswere made in colour after that. The high class society and the last of the Britishpeople associated themselves with these last of the classics and in them thewestern films found a sympathetic audience. Gradually the new western filmsfound 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 newstyles and there was a phase when the fashion, themes and plots were almostthe same. The Indian Movie, “Main Azaad hoon” was a complete rip off fromthe Hollywood movie, Meet John Doe, 1941. Similarly, “Kyun Ki” was anadaptation of the famous Jack Nicholson Starrer, One flew over the Cuckoo’snest, 1975.By the time the mainstream western cinemas found their way into India, theyhad already begun to influence the Indian people and particularly the youth.The 60s saw the Indian youth experimenting with the styles prevailing in thewest. Cimarron, 1960 is a movie that influenced the frenzy for leather andcowboy hats among the youth. Flaming Star, 1960 was a famous Elvis Presleystarrer and it created quite a scene with the fashion. Apparently this moviealso created an issue with the youth taking up sides with one parent ascompared to the movie’s main plotline. The Misfits, 1961, a glamorous moviestarring Marilyn Monroe gave the Indian audience seduction and eye-candythat was never seen before. The movie’s plot line was about a divorcee fallingfor a cowboy, and the Indian female youth went gaga over the concept. Movieslike Hud, 1963 and A Fistful of Dollars, 1964 brought in a sense of heroism andego in the Indian youth.The male youth was greatly influenced by the styles of the famous actors atthat 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 toroam about if you could afford one. As for the more casual types, denims andleather were the perfect combination with the Avalon hairstyle, and not tomention some rugged boots and lots of metal. The Indian youth was exposedto something that was never ever conceived in India and which took the crowdby a wave.As for the female youth in the 60s, many of the sultry seductresses of thewestern movies were the role models for the glamour deprived female youthof India. Ursula Andress, Raquel Welch, Betty Page, Jayne Mansfield to name afew 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, thesmall towns and cities were content with other glamorous actresses such as,Audrey Hepburn, Faye Dunaway, Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Andrews, Goldie Hawnto name a few. The fashion, if you were really flamboyant would be retroglasses, most commonly the “Catty” styled theme glasses, a scarf around yourhair 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 affluentyou’d be rolling in a Cadillac, a glitzy clutch on your hand, and a knee lengthbody hugging dress. If you were on the casual side, the fashion adopted fromthe western cinema was jean shorts, leather as usual and other wise a verycolourful hippie styled dress.Food habits remained largely uninfluenced because the average western food,burgers, fries, ice cream soda, steak, barbeques etc. were not so easilyavailable at that point of time. Over the years once, these were widelyavailable in the Indian market, people got crazy for it.It is quite interesting to notice, and these views are completely mine so manymight disagree, that the only thing that really impacted the Indian youth atthat point of time was just fashion and music. It might also be mentioned thateven the west was in its nascent stage of modern recreations that wouldeventually impact the Indian youth in a big way. As the world grew closer,thanks to liberalization and globalization, these things found their way intoIndia. Some were good, some were bad but nevertheless the Indian youth hada whole world of glamour open to them, thanks to the western cinema.Trainspotting, 1996 and Requiem for a Dream, 2000 revolutionized the drugscene for the youth in India. The urban classes were already living on alcoholand very few ultra-modernists were experimenting with Meth, LSD, Ecstasy.These two movies made everyone aware of the forbidden joys and thedemand for these drugs went up. Marijuana was already among the youth bythe time Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix came into the scene. As a whole, most ofthe drug scene and the intoxications can be said to have been made popularamong the Indian youth by the western cinema. This does not however openthe western cinema for criticism at any level of justification.The Matrix, 1999 created quite a furore among the Indian geeks. Everyonedeveloped the craze for computers, hackers, alternate reality after the Matrixseries of movies came. It gave the Indian youth even more new aspects tofantasize on. Technology awareness was in the scene after The Terminator,1984 was released. Robotics, machines and guns was much of a craze for theyouth after these movies were released. Fantasy and the wonderland found agreat audience for the youth when movies such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1974and Dragonheart, 1996 were released. Books, clubs, merchandise, anythingrelated 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 luredby 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. Thesemovies are a depiction of the free-sex society in the United States and being ofthat nature was a great hit among the Indian urban youth. These movies canbe said to influence the trends of casual sexual relationships, teen pregnancy,multiple sex partners and others to name a few. Although these movies showan exaggerated version of the scene there, it was received overwhelmingly bythe Indian youth and they sought to copy the ‘lifestyle’.Other movie such as Road Trip, 2000 and EuroTrip, 2004 depicts the casualuniversity lifestyle in the west. Taking cue from it, many urban Indian youthshave adopted this concept of taking a year off after graduating from highschool to travel abroad to broaden their knowledge and perceptions. Theconcept of Road Trip is also another concept drawn from the west where agroup of friends take a trip on the highway in a car and look forward todifferent adventures on the way. Bachelor Parties, a party with your closestfriends before a guy gets married in order to enjoy the delights, mostly of asexual 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, 1984starring Tom Hanks is one of the earliest movies depicting this concept.Bachelor Party Vegas, 2006 is another such movie which also adds more sugarto the already hyped city of Las Vegas, a favourite destination for the partyhungry 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 andrecreational activities are heavily derived from the conventions in the westwhich is brought forward by the western cinema. It is up to individualperception to consider these as right or wrong. Western cinema can’t be heldresponsible for decline in tradition or loss in culture, if any. It is up to oneself todraw 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.
PART TWOWhile 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 thedemands of certain products that has come forward as a result of theinfluences these movies have on the Indian youth.Product 01: Jeans/DenimsIndustry: FashionWhat could be a better way to set an example then the jeans itself? The Texasminers never thought that their humble uniform jeans will be so famousworldwide. Jeans has the reputation of being the only thing garment in thehistory of fashion to have never gone out of style. The demand for jeans grewsoon after the, “Greaser” fashion became prevalent in the west. It was aworking class subculture prevalent in the youth. The dress code included Whiteor black T-shirts (often with the sleeves rolled up); white A-shirts (asouterwear); ringer T-shirts, Italian knit shirts; Daddy-O-style shirts; black, blueor khaki work jackets, black or brown trenchcoats, Levi denim jackets; leatherjackets; blue or black Levis 501 jeans (with rolled-up cuffs anywhere from oneto four inches); and baggy cotton twill work trousers.In fact the John Travolta starrer musical, Grease, 1978 was one such movieportraying the greaser fashion. And then how can one forget the famousJohnny Depp starrer, Cry Baby, 1990. The movie, Better off Dead, 1985,starring John Cusack, though a light teen comedy, also portrayed the jeanrevolution slowly coming over. Until recently, the movie, The Sisterhood of TheTraveling Pants, 2005, also romanticized jeans.Exploiting the demands for jeans, many companies came to the scene, LeviStrauss & Co was the first one and their Levi 501 jean was the most famous ofthem all and created quite a stir. And after that many other companies joinedthe revolution such as True Religion, Wrangler Jeans, Diesel, Calvin Klein, andLegendary Gold Jeans and until recently Apple Bottoms by the famous rapperNelly.
Product02: Burgers/FriesIndustry: Foods and BeveragesFrom the comic relief of Robin Williams cooking dinner dressed as MrsDoubtfire, 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 essentialcharacter development like what happened in Goodfellas, 1990.In fact food has been a quite an important part in movies from the west. Rightfrom Babette’s Feast, 1987 to Ratatouille, 2007 food has been portrayed in agood 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, BelugaCaviar, Sushi etc. But since these were not widely available, we had to becontent with just looking at them, but then the American way of eating cameover and soon burgers, fries, coke, beef jerky, ice cream soda etc. becameaccessible as well as famous.The typical American diner or Deli, as it is known over there was one of thelocations of a romantic chat or an undercover meeting or just a brainstorminglocation as it was portrayed in the movies. Burgers and fries were the mostcommon of them all in these shots accompanied by coke. Gradually thesebecame a trend and gradually, burgers and fries soon became the standardsnack perfectly apt for a quick bite. Easy on the wallet, convenient for time andwell, a bit hard for the health. But nevertheless, burgers and fries dominatedthe fast food market.McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway and Wendy’s etc. are the big names forburgers and fries and these foods are here to stay because, no one can reallyget over a yummy burger, some fries a coke and a good chat. So as such, thisbecomes the second product that is heavily inspired by the west and theircorresponding portrayal in the cinemas.
Shahrukh Soheil Rahman Semester V, Section F Jain University, BangaloreReferences: • www.imdb.com • www.able2know.org • “Introduction of Cinema in India” from indianetzone.comList 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