Mar 18, 2009

Hooray for Bollywood!

Hollywood gave birth to the film industry. This fact is not in dispute. Over the years, it has influenced the entire world, and now movies are made in every country around the globe.

One country in particular, India, has been cranking out films almost as long as Hollywood. Beginning in 1913, with the release of the silent film Raja Harishchandra, the Mumbai (previously known as Bombay) based film industry has continued to release as many films as Hollywood itself.

The term Bollywood is a blend of the names Bombay and Hollywood. Though the name is often used to refer to the entire scope of Indian film making, it is really just a part of the whole, even though it is the largest producer of film in India, and one of the largest in the world.

The films of Bollywood only began having major impact on the rest of the world in the 2000's. There was a very positive effect from this on the industry, leading it to achieve new heights in the overall quality of the films, including acting, story and cinematography.

An interesting aspect of the industry is that it has always striven to make films that appealed to the vast majority of film-goers, rather than to target narrow audiences, although even this is beginning to change somewhat.

One of my favorite things to see in Bollywood films are the dance numbers in the musicals. They are always so inventive and energetic, and here is a good example from the film Devdas, featuring the very lovely and talented Aishwarya Rai:

Wonderful stuff!

Going back to 1965, here is an unusually bizarre dance number from the film Janwar that is obviously ripping off the Beatles' I wanna Hold Your Hand, but who cares when you're having this much fun?

Finally, from the film Dil Se comes one of the best and most originally staged dance sequences anyone has ever put on film: the entire sequence taking place on top of a moving train! The song is called Chaiya Chaiya, and according to a BBC poll it is considered one of the top 10 songs of all time!

As you can see, Bollywood films certainly don't shirk on entertainment value, and we will probably be seeing and hearing much more from them in the coming years!

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