Indian Cinema

  • October 17, 2016
  • Les Routes Insolites

The world’s movie capital is not Hollywood but Bollywood. Bollywood is the nickname for the Indian film industry located in Bombay. Indians are in love with movies, even though most films follow a similar format called masala (the word for a collection of spices). Movies are three to four hours long (and include an intermission), include dozens of songs and dances (featuring 100 or so choreographed dancers), top stars, the story between the songs of boy meets girl (without any kissing or sexual contact), lots of action (though no bloodshed), and always – a happy ending.

Fourteen million Indians go to the movies on a daily basis (about 1.4% of the population of 1 billion) and pay the equivalent to the average Indian’s day’s wages (US $1-3) to see any of the over 800 films churned out by Bollywood each year. That’s more than double the number of feature films produced in the United States.

Although Indian cinema is one of the oldest world cinemas, and the largest in terms of output, its evolution in parallel to the West with little crossover until very recently leaves a lot of Western moviegoers with the impression that it’s daunting and inscrutable. But with a few simple guidelines, any American movie buff should be able to explore Indian cinema, particularly when it comes to the massive Hindi-language industry based in Mumbai commonly known as “Bollywood.”

The film industry of India is one of the largest in the world, producing over 1200 films annually. A unique phenomenon, the success of Bollywood stands out above all other national cinemas. With 2013 representing the centenarian anniversary of Indian film, a range of events are taking place around the world, including the release of the Cannes Film Festival hit, Bombay Talkies.

The Indian film industry stands above most other national cinemas due to its local focus yet enormous size. Although gaining more and more international popularity, the main audience for this cinematic titan resides within India, and while this may seem a restrictive quality, the fact that India is the second most populated country in the world, combined with the local focus of Indian cinemas (in 2012 foreign imports only filled 9% of the total film box office), Indian cinema has grown to become one of the largest film industries in the world.