What Is Bollywood? Everything You Need To Know

Bollywood is generally known as the embodiment of Indian national Cinema. 

What comes to mind when you hear the word “Bollywood”? A distant location, a foreign language, and a tragic romance story? While this is all true, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Bollywood is a humorous moniker for the Indian cinema industry. It is derived from the names “Hollywood,” the heart of American film production, and “Bombay,” the former name of India’s largest metropolis (now called Mumbai).

There is no such place as Bollywood in India.

When you think about “Hollywood,” you probably think of blockbuster movies, red carpets, and a very iconic white-lettered landmark in the hills of Los Angeles. Similarly, Bollywood is known for some staples, such as extravagant song-and-dance scenes, romantic melodrama, and eye-catching set design. Still, there’s so much more about this diversified film business.

What Is Bollywood?

Bollywood, often known as the Bombay Film Business, is a film industry based in Mumbai, India. It was created in 1932 by Dadasaheb Phalke and is the largest global film industry, producing around 1000 films every year.

With $2 billion in profits, the Indian film “Sholay” is among the most popular movies ever filmed.

Video: What Is Bollywood?

The Origin of Bollywood

The origins of Indian Cinema can be traced back to the nineteenth century. The Lumiere Brothers’ first pictures, shot in 1896, were presented in Mumbai (then Bombay).

History was made when the still photographer Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatavdekar, also known as Save Dada, was so amazed by the Lumiere Brothers’ work that he bought a camera from England. His debut picture, The Wrestlers, was shot at Mumbai’s Hanging Gardens. It was an elementary recording of a wrestling fight shown in 1899 and is regarded as the earliest motion picture in the Indian Cinema.

BIRTH OF INDIAN CINEMA

Bollywood’s Beginnings

Dadasaheb Phalke, the Pioneer of Indian Cinema, produced the first entire feature film, ‘Raja Harishchandra,‘ in 1913. Commercially, the silent movie was a success. Dadasaheb served as producer, director, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, make-up artist, and creative director, among other things. Raja Harischandra was the first Indian film shown in London in 1914. Although Indian Cinema’s first mogul, Dadasaheb Phalke, oversaw and controlled the creation of twenty-three movies from 1913 to 1918, the Indian Film Industry’s emergence was slower than that of Hollywood.

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

In the early 1920s, a bunch of new production enterprises sprang up. The twentieth century was ruled by films based on legendary and historical significance, but Indian audiences also embraced Hollywood films, especially action films.

Father of Indian Cinema | Dadasaheb Phalke 

The Birth of the Talkies

In 1931, the first talkie, Alam Ara,’ directed by Ardeshir Irani, was shown in Bombay. It was India’s debut sound film. The premiere of Alam Ara signaled the dawn of a new era in Indian film history.  De de Khuda Ke Naam Par was the very first song sung for Alam Ara in 1931.

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Kisan Kanya (1937), directed by Moti Gidwani and produced by Irani’s Imperial Pictures,  became the first Hindi color film. In 1938, he created the color picture of Mother India. However, it was not until the 1950s that color pictures became popular as people then enjoyed romance, melodrama, and musicals more than any other genre.

Image Source: gklokam

Following that, other production companies developed, resulting in a rise in the number of films released. In 1927, 108 films were produced, rising to 328 in 1931. Huge movie theaters were established during this period, and the number of moviegoers increased significantly.

Many important film personas emerged during the 1930s and 1940s, like Debaki Bose, Chetan Anand, S.S. Vasan, Nitin Bose, etc.

Expansion of Regional Film Production 

Not alone did the world witness the rise of Bollywood films, but the regional movie business also made an impression. In 1917, J.F. Madan directed the very first Bengali motion picture, Nal Damyanti, where Italian actors played significant roles. 

In 1919, the first mute South Indian film, named Keechaka Vadham, was created. The film was directed by R. Nataraja Mudaliar of Madras (Chennai). Dadasaheb Phalke’s daughter, Mandakini, was the first female kid celebrity, playing Krishna in Phalke’s 1919 film Kaliya Mardan.

‘Jamai Shashthi,’ the first Bengali feature film, was released in 1931 and was created by Madan Theatres Ltd. ‘Kalidass,’ directed by H.M. Reddy, was the first Tamil talkie to be broadcast in Madras on October 31, 1931. Aside from Bengali and South Indian dialects, regional films have also been produced in Assamese, Rajasthani, Punjabi, Marathi, and other cultures.

Shantaram directed the first Marathi film, ‘Ayodhecha Raja,’ in 1932. This movie was shot in two parts. Prabhat Film Company created the first Indian talkie, ‘Ayodhya ka Raja’ in Hindi and ‘Ayodhecha Raja‘ in Marathi, in 1932.

V.Shantaram: The Pioneering Spirit

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

The Beginning of a New Era

During World War II, the number of movies made fell briefly. Essentially, the modern Indian cinema industry began in 1947. During this time, the film industry experienced tremendous and unprecedented growth. 

Notable filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray and Bimal Roy made films about the lower class’s survival and daily hardships. They pushed historical and mythological themes to the sidelines, and movies with subtle messages started to dominate the business. These films dealt with trafficking, dowry, monogamy, and other social ills common in our society.

Conversation with Satyajit Ray | Gideon Bachmann | 1958 New York

The MOST BEAUTIFUL SHOTS of SATYAJIT RAY Movies | Satyajit Ray Tribute

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

In the 1960s, young directors such as Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, and others concentrated on the real issues of ordinary people. As a result, they directed some excellent films that helped the Indian film industry develop a presence on the global film scene.

PORTRAIT OF THE DIRECTOR – Ritwik Ghatak

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

The 1950s and 1960s are regarded as the golden period of Indian film, with the development of notable actors such as Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Nargis, Dev Anand, and Waheeda Rehman, among many others.

Highest Grossing Bollywood Movies 1951 to 1960

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Bollywood – The Descendent of Masala Films

Masala films first appeared in Bollywood in the 1970s. The auras of actors like Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, and others captivated audiences.

Many widely regarded Manmohan Desai, the most renowned director, as the “Father of Masala Films.” “I want people to forget their sorrow,” Manmohan Desai said. ” I want to transport them to a fantasy world where there would be no poverty, no orphans, where fate is benevolent, and god is busy tending to his flock.”

Amitabh Bachchan on Manmohan Desai

Sholay, the breakthrough movie directed by Ramesh Sippy, not only received international acclaim but also elevated Amitabh Bachchan to the status of ‘Superstar.’

Musical Treat: Sholay All Songs (1975) 

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Streaming Platform: YouTube

Several female directors, including Meera Nair, Aparna Sen, and others, debuted in the 1980s. But, how can we forget Rekha’s outstanding and magnificent portrayal in the 1981 film Umrao Jaan?

Umrao Jaan Rekha 1981

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

The 1990s saw the emergence of a new generation of actors such as Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Aamir Khan, and others. This new clan of actors used new approaches to improve their acts, elevating and upgrading the Indian movie industry. 

90’s Unforgettable Golden Hits

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The year 2008 was significant for the Indian film industry since A.R. Rahman won two Academy Awards for the best music for Slumdog Millionaire.

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Video: The History of Indian Cinema

Bollywood Music

Since the first audiovisual film, music has been a feature of Indian Cinema. For example, “Alam Ara” had seven tracks. The 1932 film “Indra Sabha” featured 69 songs. Nowadays, Indian movies have between 6 and 10 pieces.

Bollywood films are about more than just the plot, direction, and performance. The music in a movie is equally as important. Composers are as essential in the Indian film business as filmmakers. For years, movie soundtracks have impacted the music industry and pop culture.

Evolution Of Hindi Film Songs(1931 – 2021)

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

An interesting thing to note about Indian film songs is that they are performed as background music instead of as part of the narrative. They are professionally sung and lip-synced by the cast. However, because the lyrics and dancing are meticulously synced, viewers believe that the song is a part of the show, as it is in a theatrical production musical. Enjoy this song to understand it better.

Radha Kaise Na Jale

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

The style of Bollywood films has influenced Hollywood productions as well. Several extremely renowned Hollywood films, including “Moulin Rouge” and “Slumdog Millionaire,” have been affected by the style, format, and narrative found in Indian Cinema.

Video: Evolution of Bollywood Music

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

What is the Bollywood Dancing Style?

Dance has been practiced in India for over 500 years. However, the Bollywood dance form is a mix in its original state.

Previously, traditional dance forms such as Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and folk dances from various parts of India dominated Bollywood film dances. However, since the 1980s, Western dance techniques have affected Bollywood dancing.

Bollywood dance moves the head, neck, torso, mudras, and feet. There are approximately 108 mudras. When combined with full-body movements, Mudras provide full significance to the Bollywood Dance style.

The modern Bollywood dance style incorporates aspects of Indian traditional dance and a variety of other dance traditions. The dance includes a variety of formations, natural or architecturally spectacular backgrounds, a vast number of background dancers, and vibrant costumes.

Pinga Full Video Song | Bajirao Mastani

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Dola Re Dola Re- Devdas

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

The dance can sometimes tell part of the story of the film. Bollywood hip-hop dancing has recently gained popularity.

Bollywood Dance Video

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

The plot of a Bollywood film revolves around exciting music and dance. Indian dancers wear brightly colored outfits and use props. Facial gestures, hand motions (using mudras), body postures, and motions are all used in classical Indian dance. This puts the stories to life.

Video: Evolution of Bollywood Dance

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Some Famous Bollywood Actors & Actresses

Celebrities dominate Bollywood films; The list of prominent Bollywood actors is endless, but here we have some of the most well-known actors who are your all-time favorites and cannot be missed:

Shah Rukh Khan

Considered the “King of Bollywood,” Shah Rukh Khan acted in over 100 films during the 1990s. He is well-known for portraying the romantic lead and has a solid fan base in India and abroad.

Best Of Shahrukh Khan

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Best of Shahrukh Khan Songs

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Amitabh Bachchan

Since the 1970s, Amitabh Bachchan has acted in over 200 films and is widely considered one of the leading figures in Indian filmmaking.

Best Amitabh Bachchan Movies

Amitabh Bachchan Songs

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Priyanka Chopra Jonas

One of India’s highest-paid celebrities, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, has appeared in Bollywood and Hollywood films and television shows. She is wedded to Nick Jonas, a famous Hollywood musician.

Best Priyanka Chopra Performances

Best Of Priyanka Chopra Songs

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Dharmendra

Dharmendra is the “He-Man” of Indian Cinema, appearing in over 100 hit films. He is among the country’s most popular actors.

Dharmendra Hit Songs

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Best Dharmendra Movies

Govinda

This superstar’s name comes to mind whenever you think of humor and Bollywood. But, Govinda is more than just an actor; he is a style in and of himself.

Best Govinda Movies

Best of Govinda

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Salman Khan

Salman Khan is amongst the most famous Bollywood stars, adored by the people as ‘Salman Bhai’ and reviled with the same enthusiasm as ‘Salmon Bhoi.’ He has given Bollywood some of the most significant masterpieces, such as Dabangg and Sultan, but he is also known for his earlier films, such as Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.

Best Salman Khan Movies 

Salman Khan Hits

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Alia Bhatt

Alia Bhatt’s Bollywood career began with the blockbuster film Student of the Year.

Alia is carrying on the legacy by releasing numerous hit films such as Highway, 2 States, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Dear Zindagi, Gully Boy, and others. And you may expect much more from the young Alia in the future years.

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Alia Bhatt Best Movies

Kangana Ranaut

Kangana Ranaut has received two national film awards as well as a film fare award. “Gangster,” her debut film, was released in 2006. She received the “FilmFare Award for Best Female Debuts” for her outstanding performance in this film. In addition, she received the national award for best actress for the Queen in 2015. Her Bollywood film Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi was a box office success, earning her another National Film Award.

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Kangana Ranaut Hit Movies

Katrina Kaif

Katrina Kaif is a tall, beautiful, and skilled actress of the contemporary generation. She has appeared in numerous super-hit Bollywood films, including Race, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Ek Tha Tiger, Dhoom 3, and Bharat. She is also a model and a British-Indian film actress. As a result, she is among the Bollywood celebs who were not born in India.

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Katrina Kaif Top 10 Movies

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone is regarded as one of the most attractive Bollywood actresses. Mr. Prakash Padukone, a badminton player, is her father. She also competed in the national badminton championship. She did, however, abandon her athletic career to pursue a career as a fashion model.

Deepika Padukone performed a dual part in her first Bollywood film “Om Shanti Om,” which won Best Actress at the FilmFare Awards. She also had a significant role in the Bollywood films “Love Aaj Kal,” and “Bachna ae Haseeno.”

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

She has also appeared in the successful superhit films Chennai Express, Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela, Happy New Year, Piku, Bajirao Mastani, Padmavati, and others.

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*
Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Best Movies of Deepika Padukone

Popular Bollywood Films 

Every year, more than 1,000 films are produced in Bollywood. Among the noteworthy Bollywood movies are:

Pyaasa (1957)

Pyaasa (which means “thirsty” in Hindi) is a 1950s film about the trials of an aspiring poet. Guru Dutt produced, directed, and starred in the movie, boasting timeless music by legendary music director SD Burman.

Movie Trailer: Pyaasa

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Streaming Platform: Prime

Sholay (1975)

Sholay, written by Indian screenwriting pair Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, was inspired by Westerns and depicted two crooks (Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan) attempting to apprehend a robber (Amjad Khan).

Movie Trailer: Sholay

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Streaming Platform: Prime Video

Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)

This 1977 comedy follows three brothers (Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, and Rishi Kapoor) brought up in various faiths after being separated at birth.

Movie Trailer: Amar Akbar Anthony Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Streaming Platform: YouTube

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) (1995)

It’s impossible to discuss Bollywood without addressing Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. The 1995 classic is widely regarded as the gold standard for Bollywood romantic comedies starring a mischievous Shah Rukh Khan and starlet Kajol (complete with her characteristic unibrow) as two young adults. They fall in love while traveling around Europe.

Movie Trailer: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Streaming Platform: Prime Video

Veer- Zaara (2004)

Veer, an Indian Air Force man, and Zaara, the daughter of a Pakistani senator, are celebrity lovers in this 2004 historical drama. Their 22-year romance story is filled with bravery, devotion, and plenty of edge-of-your-seat drama.

Movie Trailer: Veer- Zaara 

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Streaming Platform: Prime Video

Jab We Met (2007)

If you enjoy an excellent quirky-girls-save-a-guy rom-com, Jab We Met should be on your watchlist. Aditya, a devastated businessman, meets lively woman Geet on a train and gets dragged into her hurricane of life, a trip to see her family, and the opportunity to trail along for her wedding with her secret partner.

Movie Trailer: Jab We Met 

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Streaming Platform: Prime Video

Interesting Facts About Bollywood

The Triad of 1950s and 1960s Bollywood

The three stars who ruled the 1950s and 1960s Bollywood world with their signature acting styles were Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, and Dev Anand.

  • Kapoor took the hats of Charlie Chaplin’s tramp persona.
  • Kumar took forward the art of method acting in Bollywood, inspired by Marlon Brando. Satyajit Ray described him as “the ultimate method actor.”
  • Anand portrayed himself like the Hollywood stars Gregory Peck and Cary Grant.

Bollywood and The Cannes Film Festival

  • Neecha Nagar, a social-realist film, bagged the Palme d’Or of the Cannes Film Festival at its inaugural session in 1946.
  • Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay received the Camera d’Or at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Neecha Nagar, 1946

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Salaam Bombay Trailer

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Distinctive Scripts and Films of Bollywood

Bollywood has its successful drive in the audience with all its masala and commercial flavors. Gradually, a new wave of films centered on women in lead roles stunned the audience, unlike previous movies where female characters seconded the heroes in romance and dance. The following movies gained a wide financial success entertaining the viewers in multi-faceted ways:

The Dirty Picture (2011)

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Kahaani (2012)

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Queen (2014) Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Parched (2015)

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Pink (2016)

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

English Vinglish (2012)

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Haven’t watched them yet? Buckle up yourself to travel across all genres, from biopic to comedy to crime-thriller.

Here we have a few more exciting movies that you cannot miss to watch from Bollywood:

Dangal

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

3 Idiots Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

PK

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Lust Stories

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Barfi

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Jodhaa Akbar

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Devdas 

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Bollywood vs. Hollywood

Hollywood has frequently been remarked for its underrepresentation as a critical aspect of pop culture. Because white movie stars drive the profession, critics believe it does not reflect America’s diversity.

Meanwhile, Bollywood (India’s film business) features varied casts, with up to 56 distinct nationalities portrayed on screen at any particular time! Moreover, Bollywood films are famed for their dance and drama, whereas Hollywood films are more serious in tone.

Which one do you prefer?

Bollywood and Hollywood are two of the world’s largest film industries. Both industries have a rich history of delighting people through film. However, they are pretty distinct in style, shooting locales, and cast members. Dada Saheb Phalke created Bollywood in the 1880s as India’s first motion picture enterprise. Although Hollywood was built in 1908, it did not begin producing pictures until 1911.

Bollywood films are primarily shot in Mumbai, whereas Hollywood films are shot worldwide, including in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, London, and Sydney, among others. One significant distinction between Bollywood and Hollywood films is that most Bollywood performers wear extravagant outfits containing vivid colors.

Video: Bollywood Vs. Hollywood

Note: This video is in its regional language (Hindi)*

Conclusion

Bollywood is continually experimenting with new styles and concepts while also remaining true to its cultural roots. Even after constant revolution and adaptation of new ideas, Bollywood is frequently identified as a national identity of India!

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