Is Bollywood in India Bigger Than Hollywood in the US?
This picture is from the movie called "Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam," a very popular Bollywood movie. Photo from www.vluvshahrukh.com
By Muhammad Waqar
Everyone knows about Hollywood in California where many U.S. movies are made. But how many know about Bollywood in India?
Bollywood is the name given to the Mumbai-based film industry in India. The term Bollywood was created by combining Bombay (the city now called Mumbai) and Hollywood (the famous center of the United States film industry). Movie production in Mumbai and other Indian cities is considered to be the largest in the world in terms of number of films produced, and maybe also the number of tickets sold.
Bollywood films are very unique and they are different from movies made in other parts of the world. The most prominent feature of Bollywood film is music. Indian audiences expect full value for their money. They want songs and dances, love interest, comedy and dare-devil thrills, all mixed up in a three hour long extravaganza with an intermission. Such movies are called ‘masala movies’ or ‘commercial movies’..
Many Hindi filmmakers try their hand at tried and tested formulas. The plots are generic like star-crossed lovers, corrupt politicians, twins separated at birth, conniving villains, angry parents, and convenient coincidences. Filmmakers just take a hit film from the past, change the casting, add new songs, modify it and present it as a new different film with same old story.And guess what? People like these films. They like to go and watch the same thing again and again.
Recently Indian filmmakers have started making experimental films. Surprisingly, the response of the audience is overwhelming. 2004 and 2005 has seen many films that have captured new themes never experienced in Indian cinema. These filmshave gained immense national and international critical acclaim. Some of these films shocked the nation and rocked at the box office. A few fetched the greatest revenues from overseas markets such as the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia. One movie, Salaam Namaste, emerged as the biggest hit in Australia in the history of the Indian film industry.
Hindi films are unique in many different ways. Music is an integral part of Indian Movies. Actors try to sing for their own movies and the songs are extremely popular. The music is fun and very expressive and carries a lot of deep meaning.
Dancing to Bollywood films is like oxygen to human beings. They are the ultimate soul of Bollywood. Dance sequences include the classical dance styles, folk dance, Bhangra and the modern dance with a western touch. The graceful movements of the body combines with the music to help express the film’s theme.
To make the movies more captivating and glamorous, they are usually shot in beautiful foreign locations like Switzerland, London, Australia, or they are shot on expensive sets in India. Elaborate costumes are provided to the dancers. In some songs of about 5 minutes, the leading pair changes as many as ten costumes. Professional choreographers are hired to teach the dance steps to the actors, actresses, and extras. A special award category is reserved for ‘Best Choreographer of the Year’. People in India say that if music is well received, half the battle is won.
Some actors have reached the heights of stardom after doing hundreds of movies. To become popular, an actor might release three to four movies in a year. But there are exceptions. One famous actor, Amir Khan, decided to do only one film a year whereas another famous actor, Amitabh Bachan, does about ten to twelve movies in a year.