Shortcut: Bollywood - the Global Cinema

The Indian film industry is huge. It makes twice as many films as Hollywood. It started in Bombay, so it is called Bollywood.


What makes a film “Bollywood”?

Bollywood films are special. The scenery and costumes are grand. Song and dance reflect the plot or character. There is often a scene with a woman in a wet sari. The films are very dramatic. They often mix comedy, drama, crime and love stories. 


Traditional and modern themes

Traditional Bollywood films were about three hours long. They were often about taboo subjects. For example, two people from different classes or religions falling in love. However, in the end social rules were never broken. Unlike real life, the film always had a happy ending. And they never showed a kiss on screen!

Modern Bollywood films are more like Hollywood. They still deal with social issues like mixed marriages. However, the plots are more complex. And the endings are more realistic. Taboos can be broken. Modern Bollywood films can include erotic scenes. They are more like real life.


English in Bollywood

Bollywood films are popular in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, because many Indians have moved there. The children of these immigrants don’t all speak Hindi. Therefore, Bollywood films use more English than they used to.


Popular in India 

As Indians get wealthier, they watch more films. It used to be young men who went to the cinema. Today whole families go. The average Indian watches 30 films a year.

To please this huge audience, Bollywood makes a thousand new films each year. Bollywood films are cheaper to make than Hollywood films. They sell about three billion tickets a year. Some Hollywood big names like Disney are now investing money in Bollywood.