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The reception of Bollywood in Malaysia (1991-2012): a contextual study

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posted on 03.03.2017, 00:23 by Sreekumar, Rohini
Bollywood films are increasingly drawing scholarly attention for their global appeal and reception. Transnational studies have examined the reception of Bollywood in Australia, Britain, Scotland, South Africa, Russia, the United States of America, Bangladesh and Nepal. However, academic work on the Southeast Asian reception of these films is scarcer. This research seeks to fill this gap by looking at the reception of Bollywood in Malaysia from 1991-2012. The thesis adopts a contextual approach where the reception of Bollywood is situated within the broader Malaysian socio-political and religious contexts. Bollywood, which reached Malaysia as early as the 1930s, has an audience that goes beyond the nation’s Indian diaspora. The thesis uses qualitative discourse analysis to look at the representations of Bollywood in the Malaysian media, and the broader context of such representations. As Malaysia has a long history of screening Bollywood movies, this thesis adopts a linear historical approach, tracing developments in Bollywood’s appeal, which then serves as a foundation for the rest of the study. It is revealed that Bollywood is not only a part of Malaysian film culture, but that it also forms a part of Malaysian socio-politics. This shows a “mainstreaming” of Bollywood films in the Malaysian context, which, in this thesis, is termed ‘Malaysianisation’. The study shows that Bollywood in Malaysia has a dual and contradictory image – as a religious threat and as a marketing tool to help brand Malaysia overseas. This unique representation and reception reflects the contradictions existing in the larger Malaysian socio-political sphere, which also substantiates the concept of Bollywood’s ‘Malaysianisation’.


Principal supervisor

Jonathan Driskell

Additional supervisor 1

Sony Jalarajan Raj

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Arts and Social Sciences (Monash University Malaysia)

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts