Crossover Cinema

‘Crossover’ cinema is a term that is used to describe a film concept whereby cultural influences are exchanged and boarders are crossed, in terms of influence, production and distribution (Khorana 2013).  The more and more that our world becomes interconnected, the more that cultural ideologies can be shared, and the more prevalent crossover cinema will become.

One of my favourite examples of crossover cinema is the widely celebrated 2010 Bollywood film My Name Is Khan.  At the time of its time of release, MNIK had become the highest grossing Bollywood in a global market, and the highest marketing and distribution buy-over of any Bollywood release to date, as reported by Business Standard.

This is partly due to the fact that it wasn’t your typical all dancing, all singing, over dramatic Bollywood affair.  It was a story that depicted real emotion and real issues.  MNIK explores the life of a mentally disabled Muslim man living in the US during the aftermath of 9/11.

The film takes from much of the American cinematic culture, and uses a very Forrest Gump-esque style. As stated in Khorana’s overview of the topic, “the term crossover cinema… crosses cultural boarders at the stage of conceptualization and production… as well as crossing over in terms of its distribution and reception.”

In both the USA and India, the film was received relatively well.  Indian BBC critic Manish Gajjar described MNIK as, “a fiction-based film refreshingly told with realism of racial profiling on American soil.  It’s a rare treat for Hindi commercial cinema and a crossover audience.”

Rachel Saltz of The New York Times stated that, “there’s something fascinating about looking at this country through a Bollywood lens.”

The films own lead actor, Shah Ruhk Khan declared, “It disturbs me that all Indian film-makers are chasing an elusive dream of crossover cinema.”  But I find this is an interesting stance as the man has clearly furthered the cause of transnational film.

The biggest issue I find with this exchanging of cultural practices and ideas, is the way that only certain aspects may be cherry picked in order to portray a culture in a particular way.  This may be completely unintentional, but it is still a problem when broadcasted to an audience outside of the culture being portrayed.

With that being said, if approached in a way that would respect to all cultures involved I think that crossover cinema is a wonderful tool.  Anyway that you can help people understand and embrace another culture is wonderful and should be promoted.

Khorana, S (2013) ‘Crossover Cinema: A Conceptual and Genealogical Overview’ Crossover Cinema: Cross- cultural Film from Production to Reception, New York: Routledge, pp. 2-7.


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