While the first film to come out of India was a silent one back in 1913, it wasn’t the first film that local Indians were introduced to. According to a renowned site, Bollywood Tourism, “The year was 1896, and thanks to the country’s colonial rulers, it was the Lumiere Brothers who introduced the art of cinema to the sub-continent. Bombay, as it was then called, was the first Indian city to screen Cinematography, six short films by these cinematic pioneers.” Very quickly after, Bollywood was established and created its own niche filled with song and dance, emotion and drama.
As it moved quickly from silent films to the “talkies” era, the technology used rapidly modernized. As the country gained independence from the British, it’s films went into what was known as the “Golden Age”. “But it was the Golden Age – 1950s and 1960s – that produced some of India’s most critically acclaimed films and memorable actors of all time,” Bollywood Tourism explains further. This is true as some of the most prevalent and classic Hindi films came from this era. In fact, some of Bollywood’s biggest stars were made during this time.
Things changed as time went on and what then developed was the “Masala” (spice) generation. Films became a lot more entertaining as more money was poured into the filmmaking process. The idea of India being depicted as a fashion-forward started during the late seventies and till date is an important facet of filmmaking in India. Currently, Bollywood is a globally known industry. Films from India compete at an international level not only because the stories tend to be different but because of their commercial value too. Right now, Indian cinema is going through yet another transition – the Gloss Epoch. Films from India are not only being featured worldwide but actors from the Bollywood are being called to work in different acting industries across the planet.
What sets Bollywood apart from Hollywood, besides the length, (Hindi films range from 2 to 3 hours long) and the song and dance routine, are the numbers. “Hollywood produces 500 films per year on average and has a worldwide audience of 2.6 billion whereas Bollywood produces more than 1000 (not consistently) films every year and has a worldwide audience of 3 Billion. In terms of viewership, Bollywood overtook Hollywood in 2004 and has been leading ever since,” claims Mutiny. Interestingly, Hollywood also recognizes that Bollywood is no longer its competition but understands and knows that Bollywood is now the capital of cinema in the world. However, this doesn’t mean that Hollywood is a thing of the past. “Hollywood has an overwhelming domination among the top grossers worldwide – almost all of the top 50 movies are made in Hollywood.” (Mutiny) The west has its own developed idea of cinema which is undeniably one that cannot be imitated but that doesn’t mean to say that Bollywood should be shunned.
What Bollywood offers to its fans is 3 hours of escapism, music and dance which are sung all over the world by Indians near and far. It seems to be only getting bigger and better with time. And to give you some trivia into how big Bollywood stars are, the biggest star in India, Shah Rukh Khan has more than fans than hottie Tom Cruise. #BollywoodisBetter