India: Culture “Bollywood” Introduction

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India: Culture “Bollywood”


  • India leads the world in film production, a staggering 1000 movies a year, in many different languages
  • The Hindi movie industry based out of Mumbai (Bombay) is the biggest of these and is called Bollywood (Bombay + Hollywood)
  • The whole movie industry spent $531M in 2001 which is lower than the cost of production of one Hollywood blockbuster
  • A population of 1B but average ticket price of 20 cents results in low revenues


  • The movie industry is more than 100 years old, but is still a largely unorganized industry with no formal source of public financing
  • This has led to allegations that most of the money invested in the industry has its sources from the underworld
  • There are few public companies today but there is still no bank financing, insurance against a flop is rare

Context of Bollywood

  • Cinema evolved capturing social themes
  • From movies capturing social injustice in the 1930s to exploring sexuality in 2005, the industry has seen it all
  • The turbulent 70s were filled with anger and revenge dramas that were flavors of the day
  • The 90s saw a revival of romantic musicals and Bollywood movies are notorious for 2.5 hr movies with 7-10 songs
  • Sexuality and nudity are taboo topics and very few movies in main stream cinema have explored these topic.

What types of movies are made?

  • Mostly musicals
    • Include dancing and
    • singing
    • At least 5 sing along dance routines
  • Plots often involve characters from different classes
  • Produce action, drama, comedy and romance
    • All include singing and dancing
  • Very colorful with elaborate costumes

People in Bollywood

  • Cinema is a medium of escape to the millions of men and women who toil all the day to earn less than $1 is a compelling aspect of the culture
  • Movie stars attain demi-god status and often have used this charisma and fanaticism to become successful politicians
  • Amitab Bachan is considered the greatest super stars Bollywood ever had
  • Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Preety Zinta, Rani Mukherjee are main stars today

Aishwarya Rai (The L’oreal girl)

Bollywood Abroad

  • The growing Indian diaspora in the US and rest of the world has made overseas market a lucrative market for Bollywood
  • A few Indian movie personalities have made an impact outside India, Aishwarya Rai, Amitab Bachan, Deepa Mehta, Satyajit Rai, Ismail Merchant, Shyam Benegal are some of the most famous names
  • Crossover movies such as Bend it like Beckham and others are the newest rage.


  • Create a movie trailer for a Bollywood film (using a series of pictures), design a poster, write part of a script, create a photo essay on Bollywood, or present a paper on Bollywood.

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