Bollymizwid and Bollyraï: Digital Mash-ups of Hindi, Tunisian, and Algerian Popular Music

Seddon, Portia B.

The transnational consumption of Hindi popular cinema (referred to commonly as "Bollywood") and its narrative film music figures prominently as an element of globalized cultural production through popular media. While scholars have noted the importance of Hindi films in defining local and global identities and aesthetics both in India and abroad, little attention has been given to the animations of Bollywood within transnational digital social networks, especially via popular music genres and highly accessible media, such as YouTube and music blogs. This paper analyzes how Bollywood is re-signified and attuned to popular and underground music in Tunisia and Algeria in its contextualization on the Internet. My research focuses on the relationship between Hindi film songs and Tunisian and Algerian styles of popular music (mizwid and raï, respectively), as well as the implications behind the digital "mashups" (or mixing) of these genres. The majority of mizwid and raï music videos on YouTube, for example, are visually represented not by the original performer, but by well-known scenes from Hindi films. These juxtapositions (referred to informally as Bollymizwid or Bollyraï) – as well as the re-arrangements, fragmentations, and redefinitions representative of Hindi film songs, of mizwid, and of raï – represent a critical juncture in the creation of cosmopolitan identities and counter-public spheres through the digital manipulation of a transnational musical and visual medium. Indeed, the transnational flow of popular music genres within digital public spheres redraws lines of selfhood and nationhood, complicating the ways in which individuals access and perform cosmopolitanism. Encompassing the transnational movements of digital media, this study examines the routes by which Bollyraï and Bollymizwid access and correspond to South Asian popular culture, as well as the dialogues of cosmopolitanism between Algerians and Tunisians both "at home" and in the Francophone diaspora.

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Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Published Here
July 7, 2010


Presented at the Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference on the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa, Columbia University, April 15-17, 2010.