Moving beyond stigmatized capitalism
Hindi films show us that public perceptions of how capitalism works in the country matter
Capitalism rests on the bedrock of legitimacy. A lot depends on whether voters see businessmen as robber barons or men of enterprise. In a fascinating paper, which was first published in 2013 but has come into prominence more recently, economist Nimish Adhia has shown that the 1991 economic reforms were preceded by a shift in popular narratives about capitalism in Hindi films. His content analysis of the most popular Hindi films every year since 1955 is startling. Businessmen who were once habitually depicted as villains, gradually began to be shown in a more positive light. Movies that celebrated wealth did well at the box office.