(Last Updated on : 15/06/2012)
Bollywood is the nickname for the immensely popular Hindi film industry in India located in Mumbai
in 1930s and developed into an enormous film empire. It should be noted that the name is often incorrectly used for the entire range of Indian films
. Bollywood is in fact a certain segment of the Indian film industry. The name is derived from Mumbai and Hollywood, the heart of the American film industry.
The term is mostly used for Hindi cinema (Hindustani may be a more appropriate term) However, Bollywood film-makers deals with the languages of Hindi
and English. The application of poetic Urdu words is quite prevalent. English has also successfully made its foray into the Bollywood movies. Indian English is widely used in the dialogue and songs. The Indian public has long been accustomed to seeing films that feature dialogue with English words and phrases and even sometimes whole sentences. The number of English films produced in Bollywood is gradually on the rise. A few films have also been made in more than one language (either using subtitles, or several soundtracks). Bombay talkies
, launched in 1934 by Himansu Rai
, spearheaded the growth of Indian cinema
. Over the years, several classic genres emerged from Bollywood. In the beginning of the 20th century; Bollywood produced as many as 1000 feature films annually.
Bollywood films cannot be strictly classified as musicals, because a few films (like Bhoot
, Ek Hasina Thi, Kaun) have been made which have no song and dance number. In general, a Bollywood film is likely to consist of a number of elements, and one of the fundamental features is captivating music that is reproduced in the form of song and dance sequences and is an integral part of the script. The musical content of a film is often released before the actual film as a part of the promotional campaign of the film. In a typical Hindi film one can expect songs and dances, love triangles, comedy and dare devil thrills --- all are mixed up to form a perfect two and a half to three hour-long "masala" film. The word "masala" (which is the Hindi term for spices) is used because these movies are a blend of many things at once. The plots of the movies tend to be more or less melodramatic. More often than not, the films fall into a set pattern showing ill-fated lovers and angry parents, love triangles, family ties, kidnappers, corrupt politicians, sacrifice, conniving villains, courtesans with hearts of gold, long lost relatives and siblings separated by fate, dramatic reversals of fortune, and suitable coincidences.
Apart from these, there are also films, which have a more artistic, and a more sophisticated storyline. But they often flop at the box office (quality assessment panel) due to lack of mass appeal. However the conventions recorded in Bollywood movies are gradually undergoing changes under the influence of Hollywood models. Film kisses are no longer a taboo. Plots now increasingly feature Westernized urbanites dating and dancing in discos rather than going in for arranged marriages. According to film critic Lata Khubchandani, "our earliest films...had liberal doses of sex and kissing scenes in them. Strangely, it was after Independence the censor board came into being and so did all the strictures."
Expert playback singers sing Songs in Bollywood. These singers generally record the songs previously with the actors lip-synching the words to the song on screen, often during dancing. Most actors are excellent dancers while some can also sing. Kishore Kumar
one of the prominent name of the Bollywood was a multifaceted actor, who acted in a number of major films in the 1950s and also had a bright career as a playback singer. K. L. Saigal
, and Noor Jehan
were also known to have both singing and acting potential. Some actors in the last thirty years have sung one or more songs in their own voice.
The names of the playback singers are widely featured in the opening titles. These singers often have their own fan following. Fans often go to watch a 'not so hit' movie just to hear their favourite's voice. Some of the eminent female playback singers of Bollywood are Suraiyya, Noor Jehan, Lata Mangeshkar
, Asha Bhosle
, Geeta Dutt
, Shamshad Begum
, Alka Yagnik
and the notable male playback singers are K. L. Saigal, Talat Mahmood, Mukesh, Mohammed Rafi
, Manna Dey
, Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhyay
, Narayan, Sonu Nigam
. Mohammed Rafi is considered to be the finest of the singers who sung for Bollywood, followed by Lata Mangeshkar, who in her bright career of over six decades has sung thousands of songs for Indian movies. Besides the playback singers, there are also music composers or music directors. Some of the notable music directors are S.D. Burman
, Bappi Lahiri
, O.P. Nayar, Nadeem Shravan, Shankar Mahadevan and Anu Malik.
In the past, Bollywood film dances were principally modelled on various forms of Indian dance such as classical dance styles, dances of historic northern Indian courtesans or folk dances. In modern films, Indian dance styles have largely been influenced by Western dance styles. Now Western pop and pure classical dance can often be seen side by side in the same film. The hero or heroine is frequently seen to perform with a troupe of supporting dancers. A lot of song and dance sequences in Indian films show quixotically instantaneous shifts of location along with swift changes of costume between verses of a song. Picturesque sceneries are selected as the background for song sequences. Songs naturally highlight the action-taking place in the movie, in several ways. Sometimes, a song is mingled with the plot such that there is a reason for the character to sing.
Sound in Bollywood films is seldom recorded on location. In most cases the sound is generally created (or recreated) completely in the studio, where the actors recite their lines in the studio while viewing on screen images that has been previously shot. This process is known as ADR. This sometimes creates problems, because the sound in these films more often occurs a little bit later than the mouth movements or gestures. The actors have to act out the scene twice --- first on the location, and then in the studio. The same emotional intensity is often very difficult to evoke. Commercial Indian films-not just film Lagaan
the Hindi language
variety-are known for their lack of ambient sound, so there is a strange silence underlying everything instead of the proper sound to create some sort of depth. The film Lagaan, after a thirty year gap, set a different trend by using synchronized sound, in which the sound was recorded on the location and quite a lot of Bollywood films have utilized on-location sound since then.
Bollywood films in general have a huge budget, with the priciest productions costing up to $10 million. More costly projects are apparently being planned, the most expensive of which is an epic film Mahabharata
, by Ravi Chopra. Sets, costumes, special effects, and cinematography were more or less average until the middle or the late 1990s, even though with a few notable exceptions. As Western films and television gained widespread access in India the Bollywood films felt an increasing fact to achieve the same production levels, especially with regard to action and special effects. Very recently, Bollywood films have employed international technicians to improve the quality of these areas. For example, Krrish
(2006), directed and produced by Rakesh Roshan
, has its action choreographed by Hong Kong based Tony Ching. Love Story 2050 (2007) has 5 international studios engaged in doing its special effects, which includes the Oscar winning WETA. Professional action and special effects are being increasingly employed to incorporate sci-fi genres in the Hindi Movies. Naturally, the film Budgets have raised considerably.
The public has immensely approved sequences shot overseas, so Mumbai film groups are increasingly filming in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, continental Europe and elsewhere. Nowadays, Indian producers are attracting more and more financial support for big-budget films shot within India as well, such as Lagaan, Devdas
and other current films. Finances for Bollywood films often come from private distributors and a few big studios. Indian banks and financial establishments were not allowed to lend money to movie studios. However, this prohibition no longer persists. A typical problem that this film industry is facing is the rampant copyright encroachment of its films. In many cases, it so happens that DVD copies of movies come out in the market before the prints are formally released in the cinema halls.
The history of Bollywood is quite interesting. Raja Harishchandra
(1913) was the first soundless feature film produced in India. Dadasaheb Phalke
made the film. By the 1930s, the industry was producing more than 200 films per year. The first Indian film with sound effect was Ardeshir Irani
's Alam Ara (1931). The film greatly appealed to the masses and naturally was a super hit. The 1930s and 1940s were the times for the film Industry because of the World War II and the Indian independence movement, which culminated in the brutality of the Partition. During this time, a lot of filmmakers discussed complex social issues in their films or made use of the struggle for Indian independence as a background for their plots. The late 1950s saw the release of the first colour films by Bollywood. In spite of this, a large number of films continued to be black and white until the mid 1960s. At this time, idealistic musicals and melodramas were very popular. Successful actors of this time include Dev Anand
, Dilip Kumar
and Raj Kapoor
and the notable actresses are Meena Kumari
, and Madhubala
. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, romance movies and action films starring actors like Rajesh Khanna
were in rage.
In the mid 1970s, gritty, violent films about gangsters and bandits gradually replaced romantic refreshers. Amitabh Bachchan
, the star well known for playing "angry young man" characters, is a prominent figure in Bollywood. Actresses from this age included Hema Malini
, Jaya Bachchan
. In the mid 1990s, the filmmakers against turned towards romantic musicals centered around family Films like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun
(1994) and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
(1995) were immensely successful and gave birth to a new generation of actors (such as Aamir Khan
, Salman Khan
, and Shah Rukh Khan
) and actresses (such as Sridevi
, Madhuri Dixit
, and Kajol
One of the oldest and most famous film awards given for Bollywood films in India is The Filmfare Awards ceremony. It is sometimes considered as the "Indian Oscars". The distribution of Filmfare awards
first commenced in 1954. A twofold voting system for this award was first developed in 1956. In contrast to the National Film Awards (sponsored by the Government of India
), which are decided by a panel appointed by Government of India, the Filmfare Awards are voted by both the public and a group of experts. The National Film Awards are handed out at a yearly ceremony presided over by the Indian President
. Other award ceremonies related to Bollywood held in India are Stardust Awards and Star Screen Awards. Some other award ceremonies are held overseas. These include Bollywood along with other major cinematic centres (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Malayalam, and Assamese) comprise the broader Indian film industry, whose productivity is the highest in the world in number of tickets sold.