We all repetitively hear about the commercial movie capital of the world, Hollywood. But did you know that there’s another commercial movie-making sector that is as popular as Irn-Bru as opposed to Coca Cola in Scotland? That’s right, I’m talking about Bollywood. Bollywood – having found it’s name through a play on words with ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Bombay’ (where the industry was previously based) – is a leading form of art that appeals to all social classes of India. It’s an art form that unites, enlightens and captivates nightly audiences. So why is Bollywood so popular exactly? What are some of the things that we didn’t know about Bollywood that has made it internationally renowned for it’s use of music, dance and striking performed films?
1. Bollywood was invented in the 1970s
The term Bollywood was coined in the 1970s post Golden age Hollywood. Probably most surprisingly, Bollywood overtook Hollywood as the leading movie producing industry in the world.
2. Bollywood makes more movies
That’s right. Bollywood actually makes more movies than their American counterparts in a year. Double the amount in fact! Around 600 Hollywood movies are released each year whereas there’s from 1000-1200 Bollywood movies released each year in Indian cinema and on streaming platforms internationally.
3. Everyone goes to the cinema
Much like theatre in the Shakespearean area. Everyone in India goes to the cinema (ok, maybe not everyone but you get what I mean…A whole bunch of ’em), in fact 1.4% of the entire Indian population go to the cinema on a daily basis to watch Bollywood films, be it during the weekends or after work. That’s around 14 million daily attendees. What’s also shocking is that it actually costs them around a whole day’s worth of wage to go watch a movie at their local picture house. Guess the Indians really appreciate their cinematic culture.
4. PK is the most successful Bollywood film of all time
The satirical dramedy, PK directed by Rajkumar Hirani and starring Bollywood actor Aamir Khan in the lead role of PK the alien grossed over $100 Million. The film’s premise revolves around an alien called PK who lands on earth only to have his sci-fi remote stolen and sold to a ‘godman’ (a type of character in Indian film that has a high-profile charismatic guru vibe about him). In fact, you can all go watch PK on Netflix right now!
5. How many songs?
I told you that songs are always a popular sub-form of storytelling in Bollywood films. But 71 songs in one film? And it still doesn’t count as a musical? That’s right, Indrasabha has a whopping 71 individual songs in the 3½ hours it plays. One of the earlier Bollywood films originally released in 1932, the composer Nagardas Nayak only scored 2 Bollywood films in his career with the second being Alibaba five years later.
6. The Bollywood Walk of Fame
That’s right. There’s a Walk of Fame not only on Sunset Boulevard but on Bandstand Promenade in Bandra, Mumbai the Walk of the Stars as it is correctly called over there includes over 100 brass plates embossed with genuine handprints and signatures of famous Bollywood creatives (similar to that you would see on the walls of Planet Hollywood when you would ever go to Disney World). Five artists however have a statue of their resemblance in honour of their work and contribution to Bollywood cinema. The famous five include actors Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and director and producer Yash Chopra.
7. Why not Hollywood?
A lot of people ask Bollywood actors and actresses “Why don’t you wanna go to Hollywood?” It’s a decent enough question to the unknown I would suppose however you may think Hollywood thinks of it’s Indian rival, Bollywood filmmakers seem to have a lot of dignity and passion to tell stories that relate to their heritage and culture. The most notable of actresses to make the jump to America however seems to be Priyanka Chopra who is most famously known to some for being married to Nick Jonas.
8. Bollywood films are decalingual
Though most Bollywood movies are in the national medium tendency of Hindi, they are in fact made in nine other regional languages as well. They range from Gujarati, Malayalam, Punjabi, Assamese, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu.
9. Now that’s a kiss
We’ve already learnt what the film with the most songs in Bollywood is. But do you know which films has the most time spent on a kissing scene? In Karma a kissing scene of a full four minutes took place. Four minutes non-stop! And having considered the films original and early release in the 1930s you can imagine the controversy that it caused with the current Motion Picture Production Code thrown out of the window. At least both actors were a real-life married couple. You can view the scene on YouTube as well I’m sure.
10. Richest Man in Bollywood
The ‘richest man in Bollywood’ as he’s sometimes referred to seems to be superstar Salman Khan who per film gets paid around 55 crore (the approximate equivalent of $6 Million per film). Now that’s only highlighting a bigger issue here to end our list for today. None of us will ever deny that $6 Million is a lot of money and that comes with more responsibility than you may think. But when you consider so-called ‘Hollywood actors’ like Dwayne Johnson who got paid double that of Khan’s initial payment for his role in Jumanji: The Next Level, it only goes to show how competitively ridiculous the payment scheme is in the international movie industry right now and as far as I’m concerned, the 50:50 pay-gap does not only apply to gender from now on. We need 50:50 equality in race as well.
What do you think of Bollywood? Do you have a favorite Bollywood movie? Let us know on our Twitter or in the comments section of our website!