Bollywood is seeing a new surge in worldwide popularity. But why are Hindi films proving to be an alternative means of entertainment for an audience traditionally tuned into Hollywood?
Bollywood is an enormous filmmaking industry in India. On the eve of globalisation moving with remarkable speed, popularity with the Indian movie space is becoming a very common sight. The industry’s trademark interplay of images, stories and well-known faces or newcomers is nowadays giving rise to a greater awareness of film stars in India; the whole Indian celebrity culture is proving to be a hit with the masses because with its help, global interest about modern India peaks. Producing films in the Hindi language and seeing diverse contributors from Yash Raj Films to Fox Star Studios aside, the industry can trace its roots back to when the East India Company still governed India (and Bangladesh). At that time, much like the American film industry, Hollywood’s earliest days, silent films would entertain audiences before commercial success knocked on the industry’s doors. Musicals, on the other hand, became a major aspect of the Hindi filmmaking chapter in India, unlike Hollwood but all of this came to a standstill when the British Raj experienced the Indian independence movement. Storylines quickly shifted from escapist cinema to movies focusing on social problems, alongside the independence movement featuring heavily in Bollywood. After the British Raj granted independence to India, Hindi filmmaking moved towards another dimension, in terms of storylines: the Indian urban life during the fifties, were portrayed with absolute freedom in critically acclaimed movies.
Bengali cinema in India began to feed into this Indian filmmaking narrative with neorealism (circa 1914), the Indian edition, but romance, action and independent filmmaking gained prominence in the later decades, predominantly. Today, Bollywood faces stiff competition from Hollywood’s Indian presence, and this actually doubles up both for television shows and films. Bollywood films, previously, were very popular in countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. Although, it had tried to crack the Soviet market, with the support of strategic casting, in the past, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Hollywood dominated the Russian film market, making business very tough for Bollywood. Leaving all of that in the dust, Bollywood movies are nowadays seeing popularity in a handful of countries outside the borders of the Indian subcontinent: the UAE is increasingly appreciating Hindi filmmaking, along with Egypt and Turkey and it’s not tough to comprehend why. Films in Bollywood are often inspired by Hollywood films, even though the two are drastically different. Hollywood films are realistic creations, whilst Bollywood is entirely almost fiction, which mixes with the daily lives of people in India. Bollywood films are also often deeply inspired by the native epics ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayana’, Sanskrit, Indian and Parsi theatre, and Western music videos. The Hindi filmmaking narrative, because of all of that regularly portrays strong sentiments of Indian nationalism, and despite the unique musical-storylines in Hindi scripts, Bollywood films endure across the globe because it has become an integral part of the Indian story.