As celebrated as its stateside counterpart, the Indian film industry which is better known as ‘Bollywood’ first made a cinematic statement 100 years ago. Situated in Mumbai, India’s film industry is big business. With over 800 films produced each year and a staggering 14 million cinema-goers flocking to see the latest releases on a daily basis, the industry’s popularity is as pertinent as ever.
Most productions follow a stylised format. A fairly lengthy plot unfolds, including an interval in the three or four hour film. Classic tales of love abound, with clean-cut boy meets girl storyboards. Movie-goers expect plenty of entertainment for their money, so plots are often melodramatic with action, love and music all thrown into the mix. These masala movies, named after the spice mixture, offer something for everyone in one entertainment extravaganza.
The art of escapism
Bursting with Bhangra beats, colourful clothes and dramatic dance sequences, film-goers are guaranteed plenty of action and a fairytale ending. Bollywood movies are enjoying growing popularity around the globe. From romantic comedies to science fiction, India’s on-screen spectacles know no bounds. The latest releases are increasingly being showcased in British and American cinemas with an ever expanding non-Asian audience out to enjoy a few hours of escapism.
The stars of Bollywood films are incredibly popular and famous in their field. Much in demand, movie-makers are prepared to pay a considerable sum for their services in many cases. The renowned stars are household names in India and adorn billboards throughout the country. Much as you’d imagine LA to be, the streets of Mumbai are awash with aspiring dancers, actors and singers, all looking for their big break. The film industry in India is as fickle as its stateside counterpart, with many rising stars taking on multiple roles to reap the rewards of their new-found status.
By Hollywood standards, Bollywood film budgets may appear modest, despite the most expensive film costing £23 million to make. Yet, as distribution of Western films and television programmes gains ever greater ground, the pressure is on for producers to gather in greater funds for big budget films.
Scenes shot overseas are a big box office draw, but special effects of Hollywood’s level are hard to achieve. However, the recent installation of US film company offices in India and the potential of their invaluable investment may mean that Bollywood’s future continues to be bright. Popular films make their way to international audiences with communities all over the world finding them a thrilling and entertaining watch.
For those unfamiliar with the Bollywood genre, there are a number of key features endemic to the films. Although subject matters vary wildly, love and betrayal are common themes with romance a big part of the Bollywood appeal.
Musical numbers and choreographed dances are common with the scenes taking on their own distinctive look and feel. It is impossible to confuse a Bollywood dance scene with an equivalent scene from another genre.
In terms of clothing, this is again mixed but you’ll find plenty of traditional Indian dress with bright colours used in the films. Modern variants on the genre may detract from this slightly but appearances remain a core element of the films with cameras often focusing on this aspect.
In terms of film duration, traditionally Bollywood films last a few hours making them more of an epic than a novella where storytelling is concerned. English subtitles are routinely added so those watching them limited or no knowledge of the traditional languages can still enjoy them – something which makes them appeal to an even wider audience.