Ultimate guide to Bollywood
Dubai - Khaleej Times gives you a complete package on everything about the world of Indian movies. From its history, top movies, trivia, records and award shows, you'll find all your questions answered.
The History of Bollywood
Bollywood dates back over 100 years. The concept of storytelling was always present in ancient texts from the Ramayan and the Mahabharata, one of the most significant ancient epics or poems in world literature. Another way of storytelling included paintings and artwork.
When the word Bollywood is mentioned, it is usually associated with musicals, colorful attire, and melodious soundtracks. Bollywood leaves its mark within various cultures across the globe. It has been the forefront of many joyous occasions, including wedding receptions, henna parties, and themed events. While many look up to Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, or Salman Khan, young females are often inspired by the adornments and attire that is showcased in Bollywood cinema.
Upon purchasing a cinema ticket or watching a Bollywood movie in the comfort of your home, you often see the final product, which can take over six months of filming and postproduction. Some scenes are recorded over 100 times to produce a three-minute segment.
Many western shows have also contributed to the widespread knowledge of Bollywood or Indian cinema. Shows such as "So you think you can dance," an American TV series, that has inspired many to learn various forms of Bollywood style dances and learn more about the music and movies in Indian cinema.
The Hindi film industry, often known as Bollywood and formerly known as Bombay cinema, is the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai. The term is made up of the words "Bombay" and "Hollywood". Indian cinema includes South Indian cinemas and has the highest amount of feature films produced.
Bollywood films are known for their comedy, singing, dancing, and heart-wrenching emotions, as well as the diversity of genres. Every movie shares a unique concept, and a new storyline, which usually sheds light on issues faced globally within Asian cultures or depicted storylines that assists with creating awareness for the masses on taboo subjects.
Indian film production has an annual estimated output of 1,985 films, Bollywood is its most significant film producer, producing over 350 Hindi movies annually. Bollywood is responsible for 43 percent of Indian net box-office revenue, while Tamil and Telugu cinema brings in 36 percent, and regional cinema constitutes the remainder 21 percent.
Bollywood is one of the most significant contributors to film production in the world. In 2001 Bollywood ticket sales were reported at an estimated 3.6 billion tickets worldwide, compared to Hollywood's 2.6 billion tickets sold.
The first hero and heroine concept were created in the Indian film industry, and even though in some films males played female roles, the idea of heroism set the tone for future films to come. Indian culture has always influenced Bollywood. Therefore, many people found it relatable as they understood the concept and could see themselves in a Bollywood movie. Indian cinema allowed viewers to use their imagination and live vicariously through the actors and actresses. For many, songs were associated with happy and sad life events and used to express emotions.
The rise of Bollywood cinema took place in 1895, after The Lumiere brothers, Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean, were among the first filmmakers in history. The French cinematographers showcased a film in Paris, which featured scenes of a train. It is rumored that people were afraid of the graphics in the movie, and they ran out of the cinema as they did not understand the concept. The same film was showcased in Bombay, the idea was not foreign to Indian viewers and was received well.
Save Dada, formerly known as Harishchandra S. Bhatavdekar was so inspired by the Lumiere brothers, he sourced a camera and film equipment from England and went on to produce a short documentary about wrestling, which was titled "Wrestling Match and Monkey Dance in Hanging Gardens." The film was recorded in The Hanging Gardens, which is one of the most iconic gardens in Mumbai. This marked the first time that a movie was on projection in India, and it is the first Indian factual film. Save Dada was the first Indian to create a motion picture.
In 1897 Professor Stevenson produced a stage show at Calcutta's Star Theatre. Stevenson encouraged Hiralal Sen, an Indian photographer, to make a film of scenes from that show, "The Flower of Persia". Hiralal Sen is known as one of India's first filmmakers and photographers. He created India's first advertising film as well as India's first political film. In 1917 a tragic fire destroyed all his movies and work.
The Lumiere Brothers also inspired Dadasaheb Phalke, an Indian producer, director, and screenwriter. Hundiraj Govind Phalke, known as Dadasaheb Phalke and titled as Father of Indian Cinema, was born in the town of Trimbakeshwar in Nasik. During his childhood, people from his hometown had just one profession, which was being a religious scholar. His father was a Sanskrit scholar, and Phalke was destined to follow in his footsteps. However, Phalke opted for a different future and rebelled. He joined Mumbai's JJ College of Arts in Mumbai to pursue his creative passion in film.
Phalke made a feature film after watching The Life of Christ, which was released in 1906, at a theatre in Mumbai. He was curious and wanted to showcase Indian gods on screen. He was influenced by religion and produced the first Indian motion film. Phalke was overwhelmed by the technology of motion pictures that he traveled to Germany and London to learn filmmaking techniques and started Phalke Films.
He imported filmmaking equipment from England, France, Germany, and the United States. He shot a short film "Ankurachi Wadh" (Growth of a Pea Plant), to attract investors. He advertised roles for cast and crew in numerous newspapers. Phalke took on many responsibilities; he oversaw the script, direction, production, makeup, editing, as well as film processing. Phalke completed filming and producing a film in 6 months, and it consisted of four reels.
Phalke went on to produce the movie "Raja Harishchandra" (King Harishchandra), the movie was released in 1913, the film was silent and is the first full-length feature film in Indian cinema. The original film had explanations in English and Hindi. The storyline was based on a mythical story - a king who sacrificed his family and kingdom for the Gods; in return, he was given divine power. Males played the female roles in the film because they did not want to act in films as they did not feel it was appropriate.
To produce Raja Harishchandra, Phalke needed an estimate of Rs 30,000 (USD $400). He decided to take a loan from his life insurance policies, his wife Saraswatibai Phalke sold her jewelry to support his dream. The couple went on to sell their utensils and furniture to finance the movie. When the film Raja Harishchandra was released, it was well-received, the popularity of the film reached England and was exhibited in London in 1914. It is reported that the western filmmakers were so impressed by Phalke's work, they insisted that he stay back and make more movies. He declined offers so that he could be close to his wife.
Saraswatibai Phalke was also India's first film editor. Apart from being a supportive wife, she actively participated in editing and assisting on set. Saraswatibai assisted by mixing film-developing chemicals, perforating raw film sheets at night by the light of a candle, and holding white bedsheets for hours in the scorching sun as to create light reflectors. Additionally, she cooked for the film crew, which comprised approximately 70 people. Dadasaheb Phalke went on to make 95 feature-length films and 27 short films in his 19-year career.
His most noted works include:
Mohini Bhasmasur (Ash-demon) -1913
Satyavan Savitri - 1914
Lanka Dahan (Lanka Aflame) - 1917
Shri Krishna Janma - 1918
Kaliya Mardan (The Childhood of Krishna) -1919.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his lifetime contribution to cinema was instituted in his honour by the Government of India in 1969. The Dada Saheb Phalke award is the most sought-after honor an actor or performer can receive.
Indian cinema is categorised in different eras which consist of the following:
The early history (1890s - 1940s)
The first film released in India was a Marathi film Shree Pundalik, by Dadasaheb Phalke on the 18th of May 1912 at Coronation Cinema, Bombay.
Phalke went on to make Raja Harishchandra, and it premiered at the Olympia Theatre, Mumbai, on the 21st of April 1913, and had its theatrical release on Saturday, the 3rd of May 1913, at Coronation Cinema. Only one print was made, and it is partially lost. The first and last reels of the film are preserved at the National Film Archive of India.
Parsi entrepreneur Jamshedji Framji Madan, who produced Phalke's 1917 remake of Raja Harishchandra, owned the first group of Indian cinemas, including the Madan Theatre. He oversaw the production of 10 films annually and distributed them throughout India, beginning in 1902. He founded Elphinstone Bioscope Company in Calcutta, which later merged into Madan Theatres Limited in 1919. The company was responsible for bringing many of Bengal's most famous literary works to the stage.
South Indian cinema made its debut in 1916 when R. Nataraja Mudaliar made the first silent film in Tamil, Keechaka Vadham (The Extermination of Keechaka). Unfortunately, there are no prints or reels of the film found to date. C. Rangavadivelu wrote the screenplay. The story was based on an episode from the Virata Parva segment of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, focusing on Keechaka's attempts to persuade and impress Draupadi. The film stared Raju Mudaliar and Jeevarathnam as the main characters.
Keechaka Vadham's success prompted Nataraja Mudaliar to make a series of historical films, which built the foundation for the South Indian cinema industry and led to his being recognized as Tamil cinema's father.
In 1927, the British government tried to promote the market in India for British films. The Indian Cinematograph Enquiry Committee was formed, and it was established to "investigate the adequacy of censorship and the supposedly immoral effect of cinematograph films,". T. Rangachari, a Madras lawyer, led the committee. This committee failed to support the recommendations of supporting British films, instead recommending support for the Indian film industry.
The 1930s and 1940s were difficult times as many people faced stress due to the Great Depression. Most Bollywood films allowed people to escape reality. Several filmmakers attempted to create films where severe social issues were discussed or they used the struggle for Indian independence as a setting for their movies. Many could relate to this and found a sense of comfort in Bollywood films.
In the 30s, 40s and 50s, most movies were filmed at night, due to directors not having access to studios. High noise levels during the day made it challenging to record and produce quality films. Many jobs were created as the film industry required technicians, playback singers, extras, dancers, and many more. People were eager to get involved not only as a viewer, but for roles behind the scenes as it provided them with a sense of purpose and an escape from reality.
Ardeshir Irani's Alam Ara, meaning light of the world, was the first film to feature talking and music. The film was released in 1931 and went on to start the era for color and animation. This also changed the dynamic of the class of people that viewed films. When films had no sound, the audience was from a middle class. However, when the movie introduced music, dancing, and sound, this attracted the working class and lower class
By the 1930s, over 200 films were made. This era had a lot of censorship. Filmmakers portrayed support of the war and wanted to expose social issues.
In March 2011, Google created a Google Doodle to celebrate the film Alam Ara's 80th anniversary. Once music and sound were introduced in films, the Film Indrasabha was made and featured seventy-one songs.
In 1933, the film Karma was the first Indian movie that showcased a kiss four minutes long. The onscreen couple was also a real-life couple. In the 90s and early 2000s, Bollywood cinema used symbolism to showcase topics or scenes that are taboo in Indian culture, such as kissing or any physical romance. Affection is often shown through facial expressions or song and dance. Censorship is still very prominent in Indian cinema and media.
In 1937, Irani made the first Hindi color film, Kisan Kanya. The following year, he made a color version of Mother India. However, color did not become a popular feature until the late 1950s.
Bollywood cinema has produced some moves that promote socialist reforms, movies such as:
Aadmi (Person) was released in 1939 and was noticed by Charlie Chaplin
Neecha Nagar (Lowly City) was released in 1946, it went on to achieve international acclaim. However, it did not receive much appreciation in India. The movie showcased social reform between rich and poor. Neecha Nagar won the best film at the Cannes Film Festival. Ravi Shankar was the music director and he influenced The Beetles in a big way.
Golden Age (late 1940s-1960s)
The late 1940s to the early 1960s is known as the Golden Age of Indian cinema. Some of the most critically acclaimed Hindi films of all time were produced during this era, such as:
Pyaasa (Thirsty) - 1957, directed by Guru Dutt and written by Abra Alvi
Kaagaz Ke Phool (Paper Flowers) -1959, directed by Guru Dutt and written by Abra Alvi
Awaara (A wanderer) - 1951, directed by Raj Kapoor and Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
Shree 420 (Mr 420) - 1955 which was directed by Raj Kapoor and Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
Aan (Pride) - 1952, directed by Mehboob Khan and featured Dilip Kumar
In the 1940s, the film industry started to gain popularity across India. Even though ticket prices varied, it was affordable, which allowed the masses to enjoy the cinematic experience. For those who wanted exclusivity and additional comforts, tickets were available at a higher price.
The films explored social themes and working-class life in India. Awaara is based on the character Raj, who murders the man responsible for the separation of his parents. While on trial, he realises the judge is none other than his estranged father. Pyaasa is based on a struggling poet, Vijay, who tries to get his work published but faces constant rejection. However, he gets unexpected assistance from Gulabo, a lady of ill repute who falls in love with him and his work.
Prior to the 1947 Partition which divided the country into India and Pakistan, Bollywood, formerly known as the Bombay film industry, was intricately linked to the Lahore film industry (currently the Lollywood industry of Pakistani cinema).
Hindustani film production was also linked to the Bengali film industry in Calcutta. Bengal Presidency (now Kolkata, West Bengal) produced Hindustani films and local Bengali language films.
Many actors, filmmakers, and musicians from the Lahore industry migrated to the Bombay industry during the 1940s, including KL Saigal, Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand as well as playback singers such as Mohammed Rafi, Noorjahan, and Shamshad Begum.
In 1957, the film Mother India, produced by Mehboob Khan, which was a remake of his earlier film Aurat (woman), was released in 1940 and was the first Indian film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Unfortunately, it lost by one single vote.
Mother India defined conservative Hindi cinema for decades. In 1961, Dilip Kumar wrote and produced Gunga Jumna, which was a crime drama about two brothers on opposite sides of the law. Some of the best-known heroic films of Hindi cinema were also produced at this time, such as Mughal-e-Azam (The Great Moughal), which was produced by K. Asif.
The three most popular male Indian actors of the 1950s and 1960s were:
Each had a unique style of acting and technique. Raj Kapoor took on Charlie Chaplin's persona and referenced the manner of his acting. At the same time, Dev Anand modeled himself on the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and wanted to follow in the footsteps on Gregory Peck and Cary Grant.
Dilip Kumar started a form of method acting that predated Hollywood actors such as Marlon Brando. He was described as "the ultimate method actor" by Satyajit Ray. Kumar also inspired future generations of Indian actors that took over the limelight, the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Naseeruddin Shah, Shah Rukh Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Even though male actors dominated the screen during this era, many actresses left their mark and influence on Hindi cinema. Some of them are:
The 1950s emphasized social realism. Filmmakers drew attention to the real socio-political conditions of the working class to critique the power structures behind these conditions. This was led by Bengali cinema, and it also began gaining prominence in the Hindi cinema.
Some examples of parallel cinema include:
Dharti Ke Lal (Children of the Earth) - 1946, directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and based on the Bengal famine of 1943.
Neecha Nagar (Lowly City) - 1946, directed by Chetan Anand and written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas.
Do Bigha Zamin (Two bighas of land. A bigha is a traditional unit of measurement of land) - 1953, directed by Bimal Roy
The films' critical acclaim and success paved the way for Indian neorealism, promoting the working class's stories.
The 1950s and 1960s formed part of the golden era. Music from the '50s and '60s has been popular throughout the years. Even though new music has been released, the films that were made in the '50s had popular social themes which took a long time to prepare. Many people who like Bollywood music prefer older music and hold sentimental value to it.
Classic Bollywood (1970s-1980s)
During the 1970s, Hindi cinema was dominated by musical romance films. The arrival of screenwriting duo Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, also known as Salim-Javed, shifted the pattern and revitalised it. They began the genre of action and violent films, including Bombay underworld crime films, namely Zanjeer and Deewaar.
Salim-Javed reinterpreted Mehboob Khan's Mother India, and Dilip Kumar's Gunga Jumna in a contemporary urban context, reflecting the socio-economic and socio-political climate of 1970s India. They wanted to channel the feeling of discontent and cynicism. They also focused on shedding light on the rapid growth of slums and those living in poverty, corruption, and crime.
Their "angry young man", personified by Amitabh Bachchan, reinterpreted Dilip Kumar's performance in Gunga Jumna in a contemporary urban context and anguished urban poor.
Actresses from the classic era include:
Masala films in the 1970s
Masala films fall under the musical film genre and Indian cinema has been the largest producer since the 1960s. Masala films includes romance, comedy, action, drama, songs, dances and melodrama.
Amitabh Bachchan was the most successful Indian actor in the 1970s and 1980s, and he is considered one of India's greatest and most influential movie stars known for starring in masala films.
Alongside commercial masala films, a distinctive genre of art films known as parallel cinema has also existed, presenting realistic content and avoiding musical numbers.
The masala film was pioneered early in the decade by filmmaker Nasir Hussain, and the screenwriting duo, Salim-Javed, assisted in pioneering the Bollywood blockbuster format. Yaadon Ki Baarat (Procession of Memories), which was released in 1973, directed by Hussain and written by Salim-Javed, has been identified as the first masala film and the first ideal Bollywood film.
By 1983, the Bombay film industry was generating an estimated annual revenue of $693.14 million. The most internationally acclaimed Hindi film of the 1980s was Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay (1988), which won the Camera d'Or at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
In 2010, Rajesh Khanna was the first Indian actor to be recognised as a "superstar". He starred in 15 consecutive hit films from 1969 to 1971. After the social-realist film Neecha Nagar (Lowly City) received the Palme d'Or at the inaugural 1946 Cannes Film Festival, Hindi films were frequently in competition for Cannes' top prize during the 1950s, and early 1960s and some won significant awards at the festival. Unfortunately, director Guru Dutt was overlooked during his lifetime. However, he received international recognition during the 1980s.
New Bollywood (1990s-present)
Hindi cinema experienced some stagnation during the late 1980s, and there was a box-office decline due to increasing violence, lack of musical quality, and a rise in video piracy. The movie Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (End of days, or From Doom till Doom) was released in 1988 and presented a mix of youthfulness, family entertainment, emotional intelligence, and strong melodies, which encouraged people to watch Hindi film cinema and lured audiences back to the screen. This set the tone for Bollywood musical romance films, which defined the 1990s Hindi cinema.
"New Bollywood" was also known as contemporary Bollywood, and is linked to India's economic liberalisation during the early 1990s. Early in the decade, the pendulum swung back toward family-centered romantic musicals.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was followed by blockbusters such as:
Maine Pyar Kiya (I have loved) - 1989
Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (Who am I to you) - 1994
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The brave hearted will take the bride) - 1995
Raja Hindustani (Raja, the Indian) - 1996
Dil To Pagal Hai (The heart is crazy) - 1997
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Something..something happens) - 1998
The era also introduced a new generation of actors who have grown to be the biggest stars in Bollywood. The three Khans entered the Bollywood scene, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, and Salman Khan. The Khans have dominated the Indian box office for three decades and have starred in most of the top 10 highest-grossing Bollywood films.
Shah Rukh Khan was the most successful Indian actor for most of the 1990s and 2000s, and Aamir Khan has been the most successful Indian actor since the mid-2000s. Akshay Kumar and Govinda were known for their comedy roles in Hindi cinema.
This decade marked the beginning for many new performers in art and independent films, some of which were commercially successful. The most famous example was Satya (truth), which was released in 1998. The film was directed by Ram Gopal Varma and written by Anurag Kashyap.
After receiving critical and commercial success, it initiated a new genre known as Mumbai noir. Mumbai noir is urban films reflecting the city's social problems. This led to a rebirth of parallel cinema by the end of the decade. The movie featured actors whose performances were often praised by critics.
The 2000s saw increased Bollywood recognition worldwide due to the growing of Non- Resident Indian (NRI) and Indian communities overseas. The growth of the Indian economy and a demand for quality entertainment in this era led the country's film industry to new heights in production, cinematography, screenwriting and technical advances in special effects and animation.
The largest production houses, namely Yash Raj Films and Dharma Productions, were the producers of new modern films.
Some of the most popular films of the decade were:
Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (Tell me that you love me) - 2000
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness) - 2001
Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (Mutiny: The Love Story) - 2001
Lagaan (Land Tax) - 2001
Koi Mil Gaya (Found someone)- 2003
Kal Ho Naa Ho (There May Or May Not Be A Tomorrow) - 2003
Rang De Basanti (Paint me with the colours of spring) - 2006
Lage Raho Munna Bhai (Carry On Munna Bhai) -2006
Dhoom 2 (Bang 2) - 2006
Jab We Met (When we met) - 2007
These films featured fresh faces, and many new movie stars made their debut into Bollywood cinema. In 2010, Bollywood stars began to feature in big-budget masala films like:
Dabangg (Fearless) - 2010
Singham (Lion) - 2011)
Ek Tha Tiger (Once There was a Tiger) - 2012
Son of Sardaar - 2012
Rowdy Rathore - 2012
Chennai Express - 2013
Kick - 2014
Happy New Year - 2014
Most stars from the 2000s continued successful careers into the next decade and the 2010s saw a new generation of popular actors in different films.
Among new conventions, female-centered films started gaining financial success, movies include:
The Dirty Picture - 2011
Kahaani (Story) - 2012
Queen - 2014
Parched - 2015
Pink - 2016
Six significant influences which have shaped Indian cinema:
Indian films often have plots that branch off into sub-plots.
Ancient Sanskrit, with its general nature, created an emphasis on music, dance, and gesture or the emotions felt by the audience.
Traditional folk theatre became popular around the 10th century with the decline of Sanskrit theatre. Its regional traditions include the Jatra of Bengal, the Ramlila of Uttar Pradesh, and the Terukkuttu of Tamil Nadu.
Parsi theatre combined realism and fantasy, music and dance, narrative and stage presentation, blending them into a dramatic discourse of melodrama.
Hollywood musicals were popular from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Western musical television has had an increasing influence since the 1990s. Focusing on its pace, camera angles, dance sequences, and music may be seen in the 2000s Indian films.
Bollywood films tend to use the Hindustani vernacular and modern Bollywood incorporates elements of "Hinglish". Sharmistha Gooptu identifies Indo-Persian-Islamic culture as a significant influence. During the early 20th century, Urdu was the bridge language across northern India. It was established in popular performance art traditions such as nautch (court dance performed by girls) dancing, Urdu poetry, and Parsi theatre. Urdu poetry and the ghazal tradition strongly influenced filmi music (music produced for Bollywood).
Influence of Bollywood
Bollywood's most significant impact has been on India's national identity; it has become part of the "Indian story". According to economist and Bollywood biographer Meghnad Desai, "cinema has been the most vibrant medium for telling India its own story, the story of its struggle for independence, its constant struggle to achieve national integration, and emerge as a global presence".
Mehboob Khan's Mother India (1957) played a crucial role in shaping the Republic of India's national identity in the early years after independence from the British Raj. The film conveyed a sense of Indian nationalism to urban and rural citizens alike.
Bollywood has also had a socio-political impact on Indian society, reflecting Indian politics. In classic 1970s Bollywood films, Bombay underworld crime films written by Salim-Javed and starring Amitabh Bachchan, such as Zanjeer (Chain) -1973 and Deewaar (Wall) - 1975, reflected the socio-economic and socio-political realities of contemporary India.
The films channeled growing discontent and disillusionment and state failure to ensure welfare at a time of inflation, loss of confidence in public institutions, increased crime and the growth of slums. Salim-Javed and Bachchan's films dealt with urban poverty, corruption and organised crime. Audiences perceived them as anti-establishment, often with an "angry young man" protagonist presented as a vigilante whose suppressed rage voiced the anguish of the urban poor.
How is Bollywood perceived internationally?
Bollywood stems from Indian cinema and has created a significant Indian influence globally. This has helped to increase awareness about India and break stereotypes and generalisations.
During the 2000s, Bollywood began influencing musical films in the Western world and played an instrumental role in reviving the American musical film. Baz Luhrmann said that his musical film, Moulin Rouge (2001), was inspired by Bollywood musicals; the film incorporated a Bollywood-style dance scene with a song from the movie China Gate. The critical and financial success of Moulin Rouge began a renaissance of Western musical films such as Chicago, Rent, and Dreamgirls. Indian film composer A. R. Rahman wrote the music for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bombay Dreams, and a musical version of Hum Aapke Hain Koun (Who am I to you) was staged in London's West End. The Bollywood film Lagaan (Land Tax) - 2001 was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Two other Bollywood films, Devdas and Rang De Basanti, were nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language. Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, which was produced in 2008, won four Golden Globes and eight Academy Awards, was inspired by Bollywood films and Mumbai-underworld crime films, such as:
Deewaar (Wall) - 1975
Satya (True) - 1998
Company - 2002
Black Friday - 2007
Deewaar had a Hong Kong remake, The Brothers (1979), which inspired John Woo's internationally acclaimed breakthrough called A Better Tomorrow (1986). The latter was a template for the Hong Kong action cinema's heroic bloodshed genre.
Melodrama and romance are common ingredients in Bollywood films. Bollywood films are primarily musicals and are expected to have catchy song-and-dance numbers intertwined into the script. A film's success often depends on the quality of music. A sample of genres are listed below:
Films based on actual events
Hindu mythological films
Western (genre) films
Bollywood plots have tended to be melodramatic, with topics such as star-crossed lovers, angry parents, love triangles, family ties, sacrifice, political corruption, kidnapping, villains, long-lost relatives and fortune.
Some Bollywood plots features many Western customs and lifestyles including dating openly, dancing in clubs rather than pre-arranged marriages, traditional Indian culture continues to exist outside the industry.
The influence of Bollywood music and Indian cinema:
Technopop pioneers Haruomi, Hosono, and Ryuichi Sakamoto of the Yellow Magic Orchestra produced a 1978 electronic album.
Cochin Moon based on a fusion of electronic music and Bollywood-inspired Indian music.
Truth Hurts' 2002 song "Addictive," produced by DJ Quik
Dr. Dre was lifted from Lata Mangeshkar's "Thoda Resham Lagta Hai" (It takes a little silk) in Jyoti (1981).
The Black Eyed Peas, a Grammy Award-winning American Musical group, won an award for the song "Don't Phunk with My Heart" which was inspired by two 1970s Bollywood songs: "Ye Mera Dil Yaar Ka Diwana" (My heart is crazy for my lover) from Don (1978) and "Ae Nujawan Hai Sub" (Hey young man) from Apradh (1972). Both songs were composed by Kalyanji Anandji, sung by Asha Bhosle, and featured the dancer Helen.
The Kronos Quartet re-recorded several of R. D. Burman compositions sung by Asha Bhosle for their 2005 album You've Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman's Bollywood, which was nominated for Best Contemporary World Music Album at the 2006 Grammy Awards.
Filmi music composed by A. R. Rahman (who received two Academy Awards for the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack) has frequently been sampled by other musicians, including the Singaporean artist Kelly Poon, the French rap group La Caution the American artist Ciara.
The cast and crew of Bollywood cinema:
Madhuri Dixit is considered one of the greatest actresses of Indian cinema for her critical and commercial success during the 1980s and 1990s. Models and beauty contestants, television actors and stage actors come to Mumbai to become stars. Like in Hollywood, very few succeed and go onto making it as an acting sensation. Since many Bollywood films are shot abroad, many foreign extras are employed.
Industry connections are no guarantee of a long career. Film stars such as Dilip Kumar, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit and Shah Rukh Khan did not have connections in show business before they started.
Bollywood dialogues and lyrics:
Scripts are usually written in basic Hindi, so that it is understood by the masses and is relatable. Bollywood films tend to use a local register of Hindustani, mutually intelligible by Hindi- and Urdu-speakers.
Some of the classic scriptwriters in Hindi cinema includes:
Rajinder Singh Bedi
Inder Raj Anand
Rahi Masoom Raza
Salim-Javed wrote in Urdu script, which was then transcribed by an assistant into the Devanagari script so Hindi readers could read the Urdu dialogues. During the 1970s, the Urdu writers and screenwriters Krishan Chander and Ismat Chughtai said that "more than seventy-five percent of films are made in Urdu" but were categorised as Hindi films by the government. Urdu poetry has strongly influenced Bollywood songs. Some films have used regional dialects or archaic Urdu in old historical films. Cinematic language is often exaggerated, invoking God, family, duty, and self-sacrifice. Song lyrics are often about love and frequently use the poetic vocabulary of court Urdu. Music directors often prefer working with certain lyricists, and the lyricist and composer may be a team. This phenomenon has been compared to the pairs of American composers and songwriters who created classic Broadway musicals. Sound in early Bollywood films was usually not recorded on location. It was traditionally created in the studio, with the actors speaking their lines in the studio and sound effects added later. This created synchronisation problems. Commercial Indian films are known for their lack of ambient sound, and the Arriflex 3 camera assisted with dubbing. In 2001, Lagaan was filmed with sync sound, and several Bollywood films have recorded on-location music since then.
Song and dance in Bollywood
Bollywood film music is referred to as "filmi" music.
Songs were introduced with Ardeshir Irani's music in the film Alam Ara (The Ornament of the World). The song "De De Khuda Ke Naam Pe Pyaare" (Please give me in the name of God) set the tone for music in Indian cinema. Professional playback singers generally pre-record Bollywood songs, with the actors then lip-syncing the words to the song onscreen, usually dancing accompanied by backup dancers. Most actors are excellent dancers, and some are good singers too. For example, Kishore Kumar, who starred in several notable films during the 1950s, had a rewarding career as a playback singer. K.L. Saigal, Suraiyya and Noor Jehan were also known for both singing and acting. Music can make or break a film. Films that have entertaining dance scenes and a good range of music often succeed and dominate the box office for much longer than films without any music or dance performances. Globalisation has changed Bollywood music, and there is an increase in mixing Hindi and English lyrics. Global trends such as salsa, pop, and hip hop have influenced the music heard in Bollywood films. Playback singers are featured in the opening credits.
Popular Bollywood singers include:
Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi have been considered the best singers of Bollywood songs, followed by Lata Mangeshkar, who has recorded thousands of songs for Indian films in her six-decade career. Composers of film music, known as music directors, are also well-known. Remixing of film songs with modern rhythms is common, and producers may release remixed versions of some of their films' songs with the films' soundtrack albums.
Bollywood dance routines
Bollywood cinema is known for the unmatched dance routines. There are various forms of Indian dance, with classical dance and folk dance being among the popular ones.
In more recent films or modern films, Indian dance blends with Western dance styles, as seen on western TV channels such as MTV or in Broadway musicals. Western pop and classical-dance routines are commonly seen side-by-side in the same film. The main actors often perform with a group of supporting dancers. Many song-and-dance routines in Indian movies contain unrealistically quick moves of location or costume changes between verses of a song. If the hero and heroine dance and sing a duet, it is often staged in natural surroundings or architecturally grand settings. It may externalise a character's thoughts and the songs are often referred to as a "dream sequence". Song and dance scenes were often filmed in Kashmir. These days, they are shot in western Europe, notably Switzerland and Austria.