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Q&A with Matt Houlihan: A Brit Reacts To Bollywood

Wednesday 7 April 2021, by Abla Kandalaft

We caught up with actor Matt Houlihan to discuss his lockdown venture: the very successful YouTube "reaction" series A Brit Reacts To Bollywood. Matt, who was still working right up until last year’s first lockdown - playing Uncle Vanya on stage - talks about his discovery and growing love of Bollywood and Indian cinema, his foray into reaction videos and the impact on the pandemic on his work.

Matt’s top film pick for the week is White Tiger, on Netflix, about modern India and particularly the class stricken system there. "An excellently written and performed film!"

And here are a few Bollywood recommendations for those of you keen to find out mre:

"This is a killer performance by Madhuri Dixit in Devdas. There’s the stunningly catchy and visually striking 90’s banger -‘Dhak Dhak Karne Laga’. Camp and crazy, I love this one with Helen. There’s also this great upbeat tune and 80’s vibe, regressive gender stereotypes: ‘Jumma Chumma De De’ and a classic: Disco Futurist Hindu Cosmology ‘Om Shanti Om’ "

One for the road, here’s Matt’s reaction to Devdas!

You can subscribe to Matt’s YouTube channel and follow him on Twitter.

Forum posts

  • This was a great interview Abla. I’ve been watching Matthew’s channel, and his reactions to Indian films is genuine and humble.

    I hate to say it, but there is an on-going perception in the West that ’Bollywood’ films are a lesser version of ’Hollywood’ films.

    The name ’Bollywood’ is rejected by the Indian film Industry, and its audience, because they feel it takes away from the greatness of their kind of cinema. And sadly over the years some filmmakers - especially within the commercial space - have fallen prey to the constant dumbing down by the West, so they’ve begun making films to suit that Western palette. And it’s also worth mentioning that much of the talent from India - who can afford it - is going to film school in New York or coming to the UK to learn filmmaking, so hence many of the films feel more Westernised than Indian.

    Although this is changing now, if you watch Indian content on OTT platforms, you can watch films and shows in several more Indian languages, and the experience is more authentic than what the commercial space offers, and now with COVID, it remains to be seen how the commercial industry will respond, because the appetite of Indian audiences is massively evolving, that stereotypical movie classed as ’Bollywood’ is finally being challenged, as Indian audiences want authentic and realistic cinema - so this is great news for the Indian film industry as a whole :)

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