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Published:August 3rd, 2009 10:12 EST
Introduction to Bollywood

Introduction to Bollywood

By Devinder Sharma

Bollywood is the dream factory ofIndia andBombay where it is located isIndia`sLos Angeles. Bollywood is the national film industry while many other states of the Union of India have their own film industries much smaller and in spite of protestations their inspiration comes from Bollywood. All the film industries put together makes the Indian film industry one of the oldest and the largest in the world in terms of films made, number of viewers, languages used and the number of film actors and actresses and other people associated with film making.

With Steven Spielberg signing a multi million dollar contract with one of the biggest business house of India to jointly produce films which Spielberg would direct and many Hollywood block busters dubbed in Indian languages and seen by thousands of people and recent success of Indian films like Slum Dog Millionaire, Tare Zameen Par, Bombay Dreams, Laagan, Namesake etc. the Indian film industry is gaining prominence on the world stage. Of course some of these films have foreign hand as direction, production or finance but the stage is Indian and the story Indian. The international entertainment industry is beginning to take notice of Bollywood and film goers globally curious about Indian cinema. All this has brought the Indian cinema and film making at an inflexion point and the choices the caretakers of the Indian film industry make will determine its future whether it will make films for just Indian audiences in India and overseas or also make a sizeable films for global audience or experiment with new themes and settings.

My earliest recollection of Indian cinema was its mythologicals made in highly stylized, periodicals, extravagant settings and emphasis on dialogue and Indian mythology which is rich and colorful. With the advent of mass TV mythologicals transitioned from the big to the small screen. The process began perhaps twenty years ago when the Indian TV beamed the mythological like Ramayana and Mahabharata on Sundays when the nation stopped and millions abandoned whatever they were doing and lost themselves in the fairy tales on the TV. There is no end to mythologicals even now for the TV Industry is churning them out in volumes today. Mythologicals on the TV are about bigger than life heroes and heroines and some of these actors and actresses find easy entry into other walks of life like politics, business and endorsement and of course films.

Many Indian cinema actors and actresses have attained cult status and become safe vehicles to endorse products, canvas for political parties, support social causes and associate themselves with religious movements. The hold of Bollywood on the masses is very strong and many of its actors, actresses, writers, directors etc. are household names. Another feature of Bollywood films are there strong evocative dialogue making and successful films introduce some dialogues which become a part of the vocabulary of the masses and remain in public consciousness till they are replaced by others. Actually these are not complete sentences but half sentences but become part of daily language and can be heard in places where people gather like offices, markets, government offices, schools, rail and bus stands etc.  Bollywood, in the final analysis is about heroes and heroines, entertainment and escapisms, aspiration and extravagance, about scandals and sexual peccadilloes. Any commercial connection with Bollywood could make you win big or loose big.

Today half the films which Bollywood produces are remakes of western, mainly American movies while the rest are musicals or melodramas with romance, family, rich meets poor, from zilch to millionaires etc.  These are fast moving for if a film develops slowly then people it under the category of art films which has a restricted audience and may not be a successful financially.