Friends, we live in interesting times. The world as we know it is changing. And either Paul Schrader is at the cutting edge of that change or he’s jumping off a cliff into weirdness. Either way, I’m following him.

Schrader, sick of the American film financing system, is packing his bags for India. He’s going to be directing a Bollywood film called Extreme City, about an American who travels to India to solve his father-in-law’s kidnapping and ends up embroiled in a gangster brou-ha-ha. And yes, there will be singing and dancing. From the writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.

“Old Bollywood will
never go away,” he said of the Masala movies (which Wikipedia describes as ‘a style of Indian films in which there is a mix of various genres in one film. For example, a film can portray action, comedy, drama, romance and melodrama all together. These films also tend to include songs filmed in picturesque locations, which is now very common in Indian films. Plots for such movies may seem illogical and improbable to unfamiliar viewers.’), “but it’s changing. Movies can be shorter
than two hours. There doesn’t need to be singing and

Schrader is the first major American director to go ex-pat, although India is slowly beginning to move into the global cultural consciousness. Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, shot in India and about Indians without featuring a central white character, is a likely Oscar contender (and the soundtrack is on sale today at iTunes. I’m listening to it right now!). Will Smith was poking around India a bunch lately, as his production company, Overbrook Entertainment, has a deal to produce two movies there (Danny Boyle actually ran into Smith while filming Slumdog. Small India!).

Bollywood is the only film production town capable of competing with Hollywood on the basis of output, but it seems unlikely that Indian films will become the global movie standard the way our movies have always been. But Bollywood could begin offering an alternative, one that more filmmakers like Schrader might jump at.

What do you think? Will you follow a favorite filmmaker to Bollywood? Is it weird for a white guy to be jumping into a whole different ethnicity like that (keep in mind that Schrader already directed a Japanese movie, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters)? Do you think this is the beginning of a trend, or is Schrader just throwing himself into a bizarre situation that will make a good chapter in his memoirs?