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The word is often used to describe Indian cinema as a whole, but more precisely it means Hindi language movies only. The term Bollywood combines Bombay (where most Hindi movies are made) and Hollywood (where most American movies are made).
Bollywood makes many movies each year. Many Bollywood movies are called Masala movies. In Hindi, Masala means spice. These movies usually have higher levels of emotions, songs, revenge and differences between rich and poor in them.
Languages used in Bollywood films
The number of dialogues and songs in English has increased lately. There are movies now where parts of the dialogue are in English. There is also a growing number of movies which are in English. Some movies are also made in more than one language. This is either done with subtitles, or by using several soundtracks.
What Bollywood movies are like
In general, Bollywood movies are like musicals. The audience expects to hear music. There are usually song-and-dance numbers as a part of the script. Often, the success of a movie depends on the quality of these musical numbers. Very often, the movie music is released before the movie. It helps make the audience bigger.
A good entertainer is generally referred to as paisa vasool. This means money's worth. Songs and dances, love triangles, comedy and thrills are all mixed up. Such movies are called masala movies, after the Hindustani word for a spice mixture, masala. Like masalas, these movies are a mixture of many things.
Bollywood movies are often longer than those made in Hollywood. A normal Bollywood movie is about 3 hours long. Bollywood movies are movies made for the masses. Other Indian movies are made inside or outside of the Bollywood tradition. They sometimes try to set higher standards. They often lose out at the box office to movies with more mass appeal.
Bollywood plots are usually melodramatic. They often use common ideas such as star-crossed lovers and angry parents, love triangles, family ties, sacrifice, corrupt politicians, kidnappers, scheming villains, hookers with a heart of gold, long-lost relatives and siblings separated by fate, dramatic reversals of fortune, and convenient coincidences.
Bollywood songs are called Hindi film songs or filmi songs. Most of the movies have songs in them. Bollywood songs along with dances are a characteristic part of Hindi cinema. They give these movies their popular appeal, cultural value and context. Songs are sung by playback singers which actors and actresses lip sync on screen.
Bollywood ways of doing things are changing, however. A large Indian diaspora in English speaking countries, and increased Western influence at home, have moved Bollywood movies closer to movies made in Hollywood. Kisses in the movies are now allowed. Plots tend to show Westernised city people dating and dancing in discos instead of arranged marriages.
Movie critic Lata Khubchandani writes,"..our earliest movies...(had) liberal doses of sex and kissing scenes in them. Strangely, it was after Independence the censor board came into being and so did all the strictures." In 2001 five percent on Indian movies were shown in Britain.
- "Hindi Movies(Bollywood) Releases in 2018". https://in.bookmyshow.com/movies/hindi.
- Kalita, S. Mitra (2005). Suburban Sahibs: Three Immigrant Families And Their Passage from India to America. Rutgers University Press, p. 134. ISBN 0-8135-3318-X
- Free Reeling, PLAY, Sunday Mid-day, March 11, 2007, Mumbai.MH/MR/WEST/66/2006-08 Khubchandani, Lata. "Memories of another day". mid-day.com. http://www.mid-day.com/smd/play/2007/march/153266.htm.