It’s nearly impossible to talk about India without mentioning the uber-popular world that is Bollywood. The term Bollywood, derived from Bombay and Hollywood, commonly refers to the Hindi film industry that is based in Mumbai. Unlike America’s Hollywood, Bollywood actually is not a real place, but it is a real industry.
While Mumbai continues to be the financial center of India, Bollywood and its billion dollar-plus in yearly revenues is becoming a major contributor to the nation’s economy.
Born in the 1930s in Bombay, Bollywood has seen a meteoric rise in India and overseas. No longer the “poor cousin of Hollywood”, the Indian film industry pumps out thousands upon thousands of movies each year giving birth to new stars of screen and song.
These films are often low-budget, simple script films with plot themes focusing on family, comedy and love triangles that appeal to a general audience. But what really separates Bollywood films from other genres is the dance numbers.
Catchy if not downright campy, the musical song and dance routines are the heart of any Bollywood film. The songs, the lyrics and the production are all highly stylized as the hero and the heroin get their choreographed dance and lip-synch scene on. And it’s hit, a huge one at that.
So much so that Bollywood and its billion dollar-plus in yearly revenues is now a major contributor to India’s national economy. And with demand on the rise internationally and new revenue streams like the internet and better licensing of songs and merchandise, Bollywood figures to remain an important part of India for years to come.
Such success attracts more and more intentional investors who are now looking to sink their teeth into the entertainment industry in India to get their piece of the pie. If there’s money to be made, big companies will find, and that’s what’s happening as Bollywood has become a global brand with global mega-stars.
Aishwarya Rai, Amitabh Bachchen and recently Hrithik Roshan are just a few of the biggest names in the business who have garnered international appeal and attention. And much of that is thanks to the rise of Bollywood.
Yet Bollywood is undergoing change in a big way in recent years. Because of its international appeal and the general motif of making to movies that cater to the widest possible audience, English is being increasingly used in Hindi films, though dance routines often remain in Hindi.
And thanks to greater budgets, filmmakers are better able to raise their overall level of production with more special effects, lavish costumes and better writing to go along with the ability to film more and more on foreign soils and at remote locations.
Bollywood is certainly not for everyone, especially if you are not a fan of musicals. But it’s massive appeal and explosive growth signal that it’s not just a passing phenomenon or a cultural fad, but an industry that has put India on the international entertainment map.