"Don't you wish your girlfriend was a slumdog like me?

Rash adventures in pop-cultural globalization: The Pussycat Dolls join up with A. R. Rahman for a Bollywood frolic. Jai Ho!

Published March 24, 2009 10:08PM (EDT)

Ultrabrown's Manish Vij writes that the Pussycat Dolls' cover of "Slumdog Millionaire's" "Jai Ho" "brings a tear to my eye" because it is an example of Hollywood ripping off desi culture rather than the more familiar, to him, cooptation of Hollywood tropes by Bollywood.

Of course, it's a little more complicated than that, since "Slumdog Millionaire" is itself a pop cultural artifact of complicated multi-cultural provenance, a movie that seems authentically Indian but is directed by a Westerner, and may, as one critic points out, have no more relevance to the "truth" of India than "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" has to the "truth" of Los Angeles.

So who, exactly, is ripping off who? I confess, I get a little confused at the sight of the Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger sporting a bindi and some Bollywood dance moves, while the brilliant A. R. Rahman, who won an Oscar for his "Slumdog" score, floats beatifically hither and yon. Frieda Pinto, the lead actress of "Slumdog," graced the screen with an astonishing purity and innocence of spirit, despite her abusive entanglement with Mumbai mobsters. Nicole Scherzinger doesn't have a pure bone in her body. I don't mean that in a disparaging way; but her slither is the very essence of commercialized sexuality. There's no fun in it whatsoever: I mean, is there any doubt that the answer to the question "Don't you wish your girlfriend was a slumdog like me?" is an emphatic no? No substitutes please: Go with the original.

It's been awhile since How the World Works has mulled the latest news from the globalization of pop culture, but the Bollywood adventures of The Pussycat Dolls is a good reminder that even as a global recession pummels world trade and spurs new calls for protectionism, the cross-cultural mingling between the super-entertainment powers of the world continues merrily along.

Embedding has been disabled for the clip on Youtube, but you can find it here.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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