Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (“The Big Hearted Will Take the Bride”), directed by Aditya Chopra and released in 1995, became the biggest Bollywood hit of the year and a defining film of the decade. In an emotionally charged moment in the movie, Raj (played by Shahrukh Khan) refuses to elope with his heroine, Simran, because he wants her family to endorse their marriage, even though Simran’s mother is encouraging him to run away.

Thirteen years later, in 2008, Chopra’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (“A Match Made by God”) became the fourth-highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time. This time around, in a similar movie moment, Raj (played by Shahrukh Khan) asks his heroine Taani to run away with him if she thinks she is not happy in her marriage; he exhorts her to snatch her personal happiness from her destiny. From refusing to elope with his girlfriend to asking someone else’s wife to run away in search of personal happiness, the depiction of relationships and morality in mainstream Bollywood cinema has come a long way—obviously mirroring the tremendous change that India has seen in the last 15 years. This transformation of India, which started with its economy, is affecting its sociocultural fabric and people’s everyday behavior and consumption patterns.

In Consumer India, I take a close look at the new India that is emerging from these transformative changes, tracing our changing mindset and the impact on our consumption behavior. Having established where we have come from ...

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