Reel to Real

Shalini Shankar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter identifies "Bollywood" films-feature-length movies produced in Bombay (Mumbai), India-as a source of linguistic and cultural production in the South Asian diaspora. South Asian Americans (Desis), especially youth, engage with these Hindi language films with English subtitles on a number of levels. The chapter focuses on the circulation and consumption of Bollywood films in two locations in the South Asian diaspora: Silicon Valley, CA and Queens, NY. Ethnographic and sociolinguistic data of conversational exchanges, commentary during viewing, and personal narratives are presented to illustrate Bollywood's role in shaping linguistic processes of indexicality, bivalency, and identity. In these ways, the chapter analyzes how media and language use together shape style and identity in this Asian American community, as well as how this process varies between different locations of the South Asian diaspora.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBeyond Yellow English
Subtitle of host publicationToward a Linguistic Anthropology of Asian Pacific America
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199870639
ISBN (Print)9780195327359
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Asian america
  • Bollywood
  • Desi
  • Language use
  • Media
  • Queens
  • Silicon valley
  • South asian diaspora
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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