is the informal name given to the popular Mumbai-based
Hindi language film industry in India. The term is
sometimes used incorrectly to refer to the whole of
name is a blend of Bombay, the former name for Mumbai,
and Hollywood, the centre of the American film industry.
Though some purists deplore the name, arguing that
it makes the industry look like a poor cousin to Hollywood,
it seems likely to persist and now has its own entry
in the Oxford English Dictionary. Such names have
also been used for other industries, including Kollywood,
Tollywood, Lollywood, Dallywood, and Nollywood.
and the other major cinematic hubs (Tamil, Marathi,
Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada) constitute
the broader Indian film industry, whose output is
the largest in the world in terms of number of films
produced and in number of tickets sold. Bollywood
is a strong part of popular culture of not only India,
but also of the rest of South Asia, the Middle East,
parts of Africa, parts of Southeast Asia, and among
the South Asian diaspora worldwide. Bollywood has
its largest diasporic audiences in the UK, Canada,
Australia and the U.S, all of which have large Indian
is also commonly referred to as "Hindi cinema",
even though Hindustani, the substratum common to both
Hindi and Urdu, might be more accurate. The use of
poetic Urdu words is fairly common. The connection
between Hindi, Urdu, and Hindustani is an extremely
contentious matter and is discussed at length in the
linked articles relating specifically to the languages.
has been a growing presence of English in dialogue
and songs as well. It is not uncommon to see movies
which feature dialogue with English words and phrases,
even whole sentences. A few movies are also made in
two or even three languages (either using subtitles,
or several soundtracks).
would tend to classify most Bollywood films as musicals,
because few movies are made without at least one song-and-dance
number. The standard Bollywood movie is expected to
contain a number of elements, and one of the essentials
is catchy music in the form of song-and-dance numbers
woven into the script. Indeed, a movie's music is
often released before the movie itself and helps increase
audiences expect full value for their money, with
a good entertainer generally referred to as paisa
vasool, (literally, "money's worth"). Songs
and dances, love triangles, comedy and dare-devil
thrills all are mixed up in a three-hour-long
extravaganza with an intermission. Such movies are
called masala movies, after the Hindi word for a spice
mixture, masala. Like masalas, these movies are a
mixture of many things.
plots have tended to be melodramatic. They frequently
employ formulaic ingredients such as star-crossed
lovers and angry parents, love triangles, family ties,
sacrifice, corrupt politicians, kidnappers, conniving
villains, courtesans with hearts of gold, long-lost
relatives and siblings separated by fate, dramatic
reversals of fortune, and convenient coincidences.
have always been Indian films with more artistic aims
and more sophisticated stories, both inside and outside
the Bollywood tradition (see Indian art cinema). They
often lost out at the box office to movies with more
mass appeal. Bollywood conventions are changing, however.
A large Indian diaspora in English speaking countries,
and increased Western influence at home, have nudged
Bollywood films closer to Hollywood models. Film kisses
are no longer banned. Plots now tend to feature Westernised
urbanites dating and dancing in discos rather than
film music is called filmi music (from Hindi, meaning
from Bollywood movies are generally pre-recorded by
professional playback singers, with the actors then
lip synching the words to the song on-screen, often
while dancing. While most actors, especially today,
are excellent dancers, few are also singers. One notable
exception was Kishore Kumar, who starred in several
major films in the 1950s while also having a stellar
career as a playback singer. K. L. Saigal, Suraiyya,
and Noor Jehan were also known as both singers and
actors. Some actors in the last thirty years have
sung one or more songs themselves; for a list, see
Singing actors and actresses in Indian cinema.
singers are prominently featured in the opening credits
and have their own fans who will go to an otherwise
lacklustre movie just to hear their favourites. One
of the most recorded of these playback singers is
Lata Mangeshkar who, through the course of a career
spanning over six decades, has recorded thousands
of songs for Indian movies. Many of the female songs
in films from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s were sung
by Lata or by her sister Asha Bhosle. Some of the
famous male playback singers were Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh,
and Kishore Kumar. The composers of film music, known
as music directors, are also well-known. Their songs
can make or break a film and usually do. Remixing
of filmi songs with modern beats and rhythms is a
common occurrence today, and producers may even release
remixed versions of some of their films' songs along
with the films' regular soundtrack albums.
dancing in Bollywood films, especially older ones,
is primarily modelled on Indian dance: classical dance
styles, dances of historic northern Indian courtesans
(tawaif), or folk dances. In modern films, Indian
dance elements often blend with Western dance styles
(as seen on MTV or in Broadway musicals), though it
is not unusual to see Western pop and pure classical
dance numbers side by side in the same film. The hero
or heroine will often perform with a troupe of supporting
dancers. Many song-and-dance routines in Indian films
feature unrealistically instantaneous shifts of location
and/or changes of costume between verses of a song.
If the hero and heroine dance and sing a pas-de-deux
(a dance and ballet term, meaning "dance of two"),
it is often staged in beautiful natural surroundings
or architecturally grand settings. This staging is
referred to as a "picturisation".
typically comment on the action taking place in the
movie, in several ways. Sometimes, a song is worked
into the plot, so that a character has a reason to
sing; other times, a song is an externalisation of
a character's thoughts, or presages an event that
has not occurred yet in the plot of the movie. In
this case, the event is almost always two characters
falling in love.
films have always used what are now called "item
numbers". A physically attractive female character
(the "item girl"), often completely unrelated
to the main cast and plot of the film, performs a
catchy song and dance number in the film. In older
films, the "item number" may be performed
by a courtesan (tawaif) dancing for a rich client
or as part of a cabaret show. The dancer Helen was
famous for her cabaret numbers. In modern films, item
numbers may be inserted as discotheque sequences,
dancing at celebrations, or as stage shows.
the last few decades Bollywood producers have been
releasing the film's soundtrack, as tapes or CDs,
before the main movie release, hoping that the music
will pull audiences into the cinema later. Oftentimes,
the soundtrack is more popular than the movie. In
the last few years some producers have also been releasing
music videos, usually featuring a song from the film.
However, some promotional videos feature a song which
is not included in the movie.
Bollywood employs people from all parts of India.
It attracts thousands of aspiring actors and actresses,
all hoping for a break in the industry. Models and
beauty contestants, television actors, theatre actors
and even common people come to Mumbai with the hope
and dream of becoming a star. Just as in Hollywood,
very few succeed.
in the entertainment industry is very fickle, and
Bollywood is no exception. The popularity of the stars
can rise and fall rapidly. Directors compete to hire
the most popular stars of the day, who are believed
to guarantee the success of a movie (though this belief
is not always supported by box-office results). Hence
many stars make the most of their fame, once they
become popular, by making several movies simultaneously.
a very few non-Indian actors are able to make a mark
in Bollywood, though many have tried from time to
time. There have been some exceptions, one recent
example is the hit film Rang de Basanti, where the
lead actress is an Englishwoman. Kisna, Lagaan, and
The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey also featured
can be very clannish, and the relatives of film-industry
insiders have an edge in getting coveted roles in
films and/or being part of a film's crew. However,
industry connections are no guarantee of a long career:
competition is brutal and if film industry scions
do not succeed at the box office, their careers will
falter. Some of the biggest stars, such as Dharmendra,
Amitabh Bachchan, and Shah Rukh Khan have succeeded
despite total lack of show biz connections. For film
clans, see List of Bollywood film clans
budgets are usually modest by Hollywood standards.
Sets, costumes, special effects, and cinematography
were less than world-class up until the mid-to-late
1990s. As Western films and television gain wider
distribution in India itself, there is increasing
pressure for Bollywood films to attain the same production
levels. Sequences shot overseas have proved a real
box office draw, so Mumbai film crews are increasingly
filming in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United
Kingdom, the United States, continental Europe and
elsewhere. Nowadays, Indian producers are winning
more and more funding for big-budget films shot within
India as well, such as Lagaan, Devdas and other recent
for Bollywood films often comes from private distributors
and a few large studios. Indian banks and financial
institutions were forbidden from lending money to
movie studios. However, this ban has now been lifted.
As finances are not regulated, some funding also comes
from illegitimate sources, such as the Mumbai underworld.
The Mumbai underworld has been known to be involved
in the production of several films, and are notorious
for their patronisation of several prominent film
personalities; On occasion, they have known to use
money and muscle power to get their way in cinematic
deals. In January, 2000, Mumbai mafia hitmen shot
Rakesh Roshan, a film director and father of star
Hrithik Roshan; it had been reported that he had rebuffed
mob attempts to meddle with his film distribution.
In 2001, the Central Bureau of Investigation seized
all prints of the movie Chori Chori Chupke Chupke
after the movie was found to be funded by members
of the Mumbai underworld.
problem facing Bollywood is widespread copyright infringement
of its films. Often, bootleg DVD copies of movies
are available before the prints are officially released
in cinemas. Manufacturing of bootleg DVD, VCD, and
VHS copies of the latest movie titles is a well established
'small scale industry' in parts of South Asia and
South East Asia. Besides catering to the homegrown
market, demand for these copies is large amongst some
sections of the Indian diaspora, too. (In fact, bootleg
copies are the only way people in Pakistan can watch
Bollywood movies, since the Government of Pakistan
has banned their sale, distribution and telecast).
Films are frequently broadcast without compensation
by countless small cable TV companies in India and
other parts of South Asia. Small convenience stores
run by members of the Indian diaspora in the U.S.
and the UK regularly stock tapes and DVDs of dubious
provenance, while consumer copying adds to the problem.
The availability of illegal copies of movies on the
Internet also contributes to the piracy problem.
TV, television and imported foreign films are making
huge inroads into the domestic Indian entertainment
market. In the past, most Bollywood films could make
money; now fewer tend to do so. Balanced against this
are the increasing returns from theatres in Western
countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, and the
United States, where Bollywood is slowly getting noticed.
As more Indians migrate to these countries, they form
a growing market for upscale Indian films. 'Foreign'
audiencesin East Asian and Western countriesare
also growing, if more slowly.
an interesting comparison of Hollywood and Bollywood
financial figures, see this chart. It shows tickets
sold in 2002 and total revenue estimates. Bollywood
sold 3.6 billion tickets and had total revenues (theatre
tickets, DVDs, television etc.) of US$1.3 billion,
whereas Hollywood films sold 2.6 billion tickets and
generated total revenues (again from all formats)
of US$51 billion.
Many Indian artists used to make a living by hand-painting
movie billboards and posters. (The well-known artist
M.F. Hussain was a poster painter early in his career.)
This was because human labour was found to be cheaper
than printing and distributing publicity material.
Now, a majority of the huge and ubiquitous billboards
in India's major cities are created with computer-printed
vinyl. The old hand-painted posters, once regarded
as ephemera, are becoming increasingly collectible
as folk art.
the film music, or music videos, before the actual
release of the film can also be considered a form
of advertising. A popular tune is believed to help
pull audiences into the theaters.
publicists have begun to use the Internet as a venue
for advertising. Most of the better-funded film releases
now have their own websites, where browsers can view
trailers, stills, and information about the story,
cast, and crew.
is also used to advertise other products. Product
placement, as used in Hollywood, is widely practiced
movie stars appear in print and television advertisements
for other products, such as watches or soap (see Celebrity
endorsement). Advertisers say that a star endorsement
Raja Harishchandra (1913) was the first silent feature
film made in India. It was made by Dadasaheb Phalke.
By the 1930s, the industry was producing over 200
films per annum. The first Indian sound film, Ardeshir
Irani's Alam Ara (1931), was a super hit. There was
clearly a huge market for talkies and musicals; Bollywood
and all the regional film industries quickly switched
to sound filming.
1930s and 1940s were tumultuous times: India was buffeted
by the Great Depression, World War II, the Indian
independence movement, and the violence of the Partition.
Most Bollywood films were unabashedly escapist, but
there were also a number of filmmakers who tackled
tough social issues, or used the struggle for Indian
independence as a backdrop for their plots.
the late 1950s, Bollywood films moved from black-and-white
to colour. Lavish romantic musicals and melodramas
were the staple fare at the cinema. Successful actors
included Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor. In
late 1960s and mid 1970s, romance movies and action
films starred actors like Rajesh Khanna and Dharmendra.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, romantic confections
made way for gritty, violent films about gangsters
and bandits. Amitabh Bachchan, the star known for
his "angry young man" roles, rode the crest
of this trend. In the early 1990s, the pendulum swung
back towards family-centric romantic musicals with
the success of such films as Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994)
and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995).
Indian film industry has preferred films that appeal
to all segments of the audience (see the discussion
in Ganti, 2004, cited in references), and has resisted
making films that target narrow audiences. It was
believed that aiming for a broad spectrum would maximise
box office receipts. However, filmmakers may be moving
towards accepting some box-office segmentation, between
films that appeal to rural Indians, and films that
appeal to urban and overseas audiences.
Accusations of plagiarism
Main article: Bollywood and plagiarism
Constrained by rushed production schedules and small
budgets, some Bollywood writers and musicians have
been known to resort to plagiarism. They copy ideas,
plot lines, tunes or riffs from sources close at hand
from other Indian regional films or far away (Hollywood
and other Western movies, Western pop hits).
past times, this could be done with impunity. Copyright
enforcement was lax in India. As for the Western sources,
the Bollywood film industry was largely unknown to
Westerners, who would not even be aware that their
material was being copied. Audiences also may not
have been aware of the plagiarism, since many in the
Indian audience were unfamiliar with Western films
copyright enforcement in India is still a little hit-and-miss,
Bollywood and Hollywood are much more aware of each
other now, and Indian audiences are more familiar
with foreign movies and music. Flagrant plagiarism
may have diminished -- however, there is no general
agreement that it has.
The Indian screen magazine Filmfare started the first
Filmfare Awards in 1953. Modelled after the poll-based
merit format of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences, individuals may submit their votes in
separate categories; The awards are presented at a
glamorous, star-studded ceremony. However, unlike
the Oscars, voting is not restricted to members of
a specific club or academy, but is open to anyone
who buys a magazine and sends in a ballot. Like the
Oscars, the Filmfare awards are frequently accused
of bias towards commercial success rather than artistic
other companies, such as Stardust Magazine, Zee TV,
etc have joined the movie award bandwagon. Some of
the other popular awards are:
Star Screen Awards
of these award ceremonies are lavishly staged spectacles,
featuring singing, dancing, and lots of stars and
1973, the Indian government has sponsored the National
Film Awards, awarded by the government run Directorate
of Film Festivals (DFF). The DFF screens not only
Bollywood films, but films from all the other regional
movie industries and independent/art films. These
awards are handed out at an annual ceremony presided
over by the President of India. (Credit: