Bollywood movies are India’s most acclaimed films that set the fashion, dance and music industry trends for India. These films contain sexy actors and actresses, tantalizing colorful directing and special effects to rival the North American films of Hollywood! Plus, India is skilled at making a large quantity of these movies every year!
India's film powerhouse produces roughly 200 films each year and got its name from the West Bengal film industry's Tollywood. Tollywood's name was influenced by the United States' Hollywood. A big difference between Hollywood and Bollywood is that Hollywood has a physical location in Hollywood, California, while Bollywood has no physical location; instead, it’s the name given to India's Hindi language film industry.
The production of Indian movies began in India in 1913, with a film called Raja Harishchandra. It was a silent film that gained immense popularity amongst the Indian people. By 1930, India was producing more than 200 movies annually!
Many Indian states produce their own films in their official state language, while Bollywood movies are nearly always shot in the Hindi language, with some English mixed in here and there and with English subtitles. This language structure created the need for films to be made in other languages to answer the demands of the soon-to-be most populated country on earth.
In 1931, a Bollywood movie called Alam Ara was directed by Ardeshir Irani and achieved a huge amount of popularity as India’s first film with both sound and color. In the 1930s and 1940s, a great depression rocked India, which was caused by the unwanted British occupation of India. This led to many artsy escapist pictures and a few socially controversial films to be produced. In the 1940s, India’s golden age of film took off and lasted through the 1960s.
It was during this era that India, with the help of men like Gandhi, gained its independence from Britain. During India's Golden Age of Film, directors such as Guru Dutt, made Bollywood movies that truly tackled common themes relating to the Indian working class population. These films were more popular because the average working class Indian could relate to the characters in the movies.
Famous Bollywood movies of his such as Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool and the famous Raj Kapoor films Awaara and Shree 420 paved the way for even more popular films to be made later on. In the 1950s, a new emergence of mainstream films had begun to emerge from the Bengali region and competition created a new film movement in Hindi language films; the focus became mainstream films. Some of these films gained international acclaim; from then on, Indian film producers and directors have strived for greatness and film popularity in order to achieve continued notice and recognition.
In the 1960s and 1970s, India's Modern Cinema Era flourished; mainstream Bollywood movies were now the norm and the first romantic and action Bollywood were made. These movies took creative themes and cues from the western films of Hollywood, which meant that they were more steamy and violent.
Gangster movies became a big hit in India. This movement led to a whole new trend of Bollywood movies fitting the violent-action realm. Amitabh Bachchan is an example of an actor who made his twenty year career from starring in these types of Indian movies. Even with all of Bollywood's creative effort towards directing and producing mainstream films, in 1976, the industry was accused of not doing enough to compete commercially in the international market by the Committee on Public Undertakings. In result, an even greater effort emerged.
In the 1970s, actors like Amitabh Bachchan found their professional acting style and directors like Yash Chopra made great films. At this point in time, movie stars became so big and so popular to the Indian people, that they came to be revered as almost saint like. In India today, you can see actors on nearly every advertisement and photos of actors in every rigs haw (cab).
An explosion of an even greater popularity in Bollywood movies can be partially attributed to the fact that films in the 1970s had more creative quality and more complex story lines. For example, a film called Deewar was about a cop forced to take action against his own gangster brother; it was based on a real-life criminal named Haji Mastan. This film was essential to Bollywood movies' continued success because it reflected the industries ability to make dramatic films to rival Hollywood's own.
A more mature film industry created India’s biggest movie of the 1980‘s, Salaam Bombay; this picture won awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988 and at the United State’s Academy Awards for best foreign film. In the late 1980s and 1990s, family films and romantic musicals came back into demand and the Bollywood created Successful movies like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak in 1988, Maine Pyar Kiya in 1989, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun in 1994 and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in 1995.
These movies made a whole new generation of actors into stars, such as Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan and actresses like Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla and Kajol. Action and comedy movies were still popular too, so essentially, Bollywood had grown in size and popularity again! Next, international hits like Devdas, Lagaan and Rang De Basanti were released. These were the movies that made Aishwarya Rai, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor and other actresses famous. It is notable that Aishwarya Rai has won Ms. World, earning international recognition as the world’s most beautiful woman! You can see why in the photo below.
Similar to how way in which many Hollywood’s films take place in Los Angeles or New York, many Bollywood pictures took place in Mumbai (Bombay), India. These movies began in the late 1990’s and were called the Mumbai Noir films. It was in the 2000s when Bollywood films truly reached international popularity and when India was credited with being a film production powerhouse!
The following movies are recent must see hits from the late 2000s: Dhoom 2 (2006), Om Shanti Om (2007), Chak De India (2007), Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008), Ghajini (2008), 3 Idiots (2009), My Name is Khan.
Some of the biggest influences for Indian films are the ancient epic tales of Mahabharata and Ramayana and Sanskrit tales describing ancient history and culture. This reflects how important religion is in India. Dramatic theater from taken from various states of India also played an enormous role in the creative development of many films.
Obviously, Hollywood films have geatly influenced the style and story-lines of many commercial, or mainstream Hindi films. Most mainstream Bollywood films are original and only take concepts from Hollywood films, however, the industry has been criticized because some directors have made obvious copies of american films. Overall, Indian films are fun and filled with beautiful dancing, very up-beat music, excellent actors and are entertaining!