Guest Blog Post by Student Ambassador:

Alain Molina (8th Grade)

Does Bollywood sound familiar? Well it’s probably because we’ve all heard of Hollywood and Bollywood is basically a Hollywood in India. Just as it is in the United States, many in India dream of making it big in Bollywood. Only until recently has Bollywood hit the mainstream, thanks to social media.  In fact, I think Bollywood has been underrated, because it’s actually pretty amazing!  Most of the Bollywood style films incorporate intricate dance choreography, music, and singing into the storyline they tell. For that, they are most similar to musicals.

History of Bollywood

Bollywood goes way back. I’m not talking about 1970 action movies or 1930 western movies, I’m talking about 1913 mythological character movies. Bollywood has been around for more than a century and has experienced many different genres over the years.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves quite yet, and instead go back to the beginning. Before Bollywood, Indian cinema was a thing. In 1896 the Lumiere Brothers introduced the art of the cinema to the sub-continent. Bombay (present time called Mumbai) was the first Indian city to screen six short films by the cinematic pioneers. In 1899 a portrait photographer called Harischandra Sakharam Bhatavdekar made history in India using ‘motion in pictures’. The short film that he created was called the “Wrestlers” and it was just a simple wrestling match that happened locally. Then Bollywood happened. In 1913, the so-called Father of Indian Cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke, released the film that started the Silent Era. The film was based on a mythological character and this was India’s first full length feature film. Bollywood was born!

As the technology grew and the love for film blossomed in India, finally the first Indian talking and singing film was created. Alam Ara created by Ardeshir Irani was screened in Bombay in 1931. At last, Indian actors could finally be free with their voices. They could talk, cry, even shout if they wanted, but most importantly they could sing. It was a huge gift that is still the signature of the quintessential Hindi film today.

During the 1940s, films were being made in different Indian languages and the main theme seemed to be religion. By the1950s, India was fighting for independence and this created the Golden Age. The themes of the movies seemed to be about the social issues that were going on in India. These movies were entertaining yet the main purpose was to let the people know what was going on. The Golden Age had the best films and most memorable actors of all time. Some of these actors were: Guru Dutt, Mehboob Khan, Raj Kapoor, Balraj Sahani, as well as Nargis. The Masala film only came out in the 1970s. One such film was directed by Ramesh Sippy, who made the iconic film Sholay in 1975. This film won many awards, and even won actor, Amitabh Bachchan, the title of ‘superstar’. The 1980s in my opinion was huge. It was huge because female directors started to emerge. Females like Aparna Sen, Prema Karnath and Meera Nair started to be recognized for their work. By the 1990s, technology had grown and films began implementing special effects. Movie themes became very and started to include different genres like romantic, action, thrillers, and comedies. Actors and performers started to explore ways to use new techniques so they could make their performances better and more enjoyable.

The Best of Bollywood

In 2010, the top 12 movies in Bollywood grossed 8,134,500,000. This is equivalent to $55,075,773.83. Some of these movies were, Yamla Pagla Deewana, Delhi Belly, and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. Modern day Bollywood, in my opinion, is as important as Hollywood and I hope it gets the same exposure Hollywood does one day! It’s truly something amazing and the history behind it is really intriguing too!

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