I remember my first crossover film experience, and it is still one of my favourite films of all time. What film is this, you ask? Well it’s Bend it Like Beckham of course. How could one resist the intermixing of culture and what can be noted as hybrid humour while exploring themes universal to all?As a result of this kind of reception on a global scale, crossover cinema is highly regarded as being unique and intriguing. It aims to mix and match ideals, culture, values and cinematic techniques and spread them across the globe, creating a newfound sense of cultural awareness and acceptance. As Khorana notes, this cinematic style creates “cross cultural affinities that both travel and stay” (Khorana, 2013, p.7) and thus explains why crossover films as so successful.
As I discussed earlier, Bollywood film is a globalised industry that also experiments significantly with crossover films. The most notable film to date that is characterised as a crossover dabbing in numerous cultures and ideas is Slumdog Millionaire, “a classic crossover text” (Khorana, 2013, p.6). The film was exceedingly well received on not just a local scale but worldwide and its exploration of universal thematic concerns highlights just how well the director was able to “traverse national and cinematic boundaries” (Khorana, 2013, p.14). Slumdog Millionaire explored what many thought was the traditional Indian lifestyle, but spiced up with a hint of Western influence, and as a result of this the film attained its status as a crossover.
As previously mentioned, Bend It Like Beckham‘s exploration of the notion of a widening diaspora, cross cultural understanding and the concept of cultural relativism affirms this film is a crossover. “Bend It Like Beckham was one of the surprise hits of 2002, making over £11,000,000 at the UK Box Office and hitting a chord with a range of audiences at cinemas” (Chadha, 2002, p.1). Watch the trailer below for some insight into why it was so successful.
The intertwining of British and Indian cultures and values alongside a hint of American ideals emphasises how the film industry “has been transformed in the wake of globalisation” (Khorana, 2013, p.3). As the main character of the film, Jesminda, struggles with being a contemporary British citizen with a strong Indian heritage, the film humorously addresses the concerns of many living away from home. Culture clash is moreover noted through the embodiment of the British character Jules as she becomes a more culturally aware individual by sharing a friendship with Jesminda. In consequence, numerous stereotypes are redressed and former prejudices are disregarded, achieving the aims of a crossover film in its attempts to “encapsulate” (Khorana, 2013, p.2).
It is crossover films like Slumdog Millionaire and Bend It Like Beckham that successfully portray culture in a varied way, and moreover prove that a number of cultures can coexist to create a traverse and intriguing cinematic experience. This intercultural interaction allows for social acceptance and a broader understanding of the world, and moreover the diverse cultures around us.
– Khorana, S., 2013, ‘Crossover Cinema: A Conceptual and Genealogical Overview’, Crossover Cinema: Cross-Cultural Film from Production to Reception, New York, Routledge, pp.3-13.
– Chadha, G., 2002, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, UK/Germany, Film Education 2003 <http://www.filmeducation.org/pdf/film/Bend_It_Like_Beckham.pdf>
– Image Courtesy of http://maryglasgowplus.com/mgm_books/76119