As jargons and catchphrases go, the term "crossover films" is the very bottom of the septic tank. I first heard the phrase in 2000, just about the time when those hyphenated films started popping up in multiplexes and (on DVD) in grocery stores. Indo-British, Indo-American (which prompts the question: why not an Indo-Indian film?) The idea is beguilingly simple and attractive: one stone, two birds. To put it even more bluntly, Indian costs, American revenues. The offshore model, in other words.
Every Indian film producer-type in America wants to make crossover films. They want to pick an Indian story that will appeal to two very different sensibilities. Two sensibilities and thus two revenues. So they go after the ever-reliable fish-out-of-water plot, or the Clash-of-the-Generations plot. It's as if these poor Indo-whatever people have no other stories in their lives.
In their eagerness to cash in on the so-called trend, the producers overlook a very basic fact. "Bend it Like Beckham", arguably the Citizen Kane of crossover films, worked not because it is a crossover film. It "crossed over" because its protagonist's story worked. Producers, financers and marketers can be excused from this usage. After all, they have to promote the film.
But when scriptwriters start using the term "crossover film", it sounds ten times as repulsive. Aren't all films crossover crossover films? The story of Apu or the hapless Italian losing his bicycle or the wandering samurai warrior who gets hired as a bodyguard - they all crossed over from the personal to the universal. And if a film doesn't, what is the point?