Bollywood theme park
This Times report informs us that Percept Holdings will launch a $100m Bollywood theme park. Shailendra Singh, of Percept Holdings is quoted as saying:
â€œBollywood accounts for over 40 per cent of the total revenues of the overall Indian film industry but there is no organised format or means to consume this experience.â€
According to the report:
studios and analysts say the industry is aiming at following Hollywood with â€œmedia convergenceâ€ — the buzzword for plastering products across an array of media such as television, the Internet, video games and mobile phones — to raise revenues.
Theme parks are imaginary sites par excellence: places that invite their middle-class visitors to imagine themselves to be somewhere else. As part of a new economy of experience theme parks have mushroomed throughout Asia, where a new sense of leisure and the accumulation of wealth enable people to partake in these celebrations of the imaginary.
Percept’s Bollywood theme park aims to let Indians go behind the scenes of what is, in audience size, the world’s biggest film industry. The entertainment park is scheduled to open in 2008, and will have Bollywood cafes, walk-throughs, film sets, Bollywood tours and gaming booths. The park will have a Bollywood museum that will showcase famous film props, costumes and a chronicled history of India’s most popular entertainment industry.
There is a general disdain for academics as being “armchair” critics, who have no appreciation of “reality”, but Percept might do well to look up literature on theme parks. Minna Saavala, writing in Ethnos about the Ramoji Film City, argued that despite the appeal of the theme park
for potential middle-class visitors, the visitors appeared largely uninspired
by the imagery of the far away and past in Film City, and they found it difficult to incorporate their visit to the theme park as a meaningful social practice.
It would be interesting how the Bollywood theme park would organise itself. A few questions spring up:
- Would it be targeted at local or international audiences?
- Would it be “exclusive”, through a strategy of pricing thus isolating the masses considered riff-raff by the middle-class?
- Would it promote the new Indian cinema over the kitsch film form?
The Bollywood theme park, like all theme parks, postmodern phenomenon of late capitalism which is a spatial arrangement that incorporates imaginary worlds to be experienced as part of the â€˜here-and-nowâ€™. However, contrary to the commodification of the phantasmatic of cinema, the tourist guides at Taj Mahal and Janpath offer a more authentic experience of urban India.