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Bollywood provides audiences with melodrama, action and glamour - Indian-style.
A scene from the Bollywood movie "Dabangg 2"
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Films are made all over India, in all about a thousand a year, but Bollywood dominates the industry. The name is a cross between Bombay (now Mumbai) and Hollywood. Mostly Hindi-speaking, Bollywood films are enormously popular not only throughout India but in many regions of the world. The West has also started to discover Bollywood, and some films, such as Dhoom 2, Devdas and Om Shanti Om have done well in America and Europe.

What is a Bollywood movie? If you think of a showy, three-hour-long feature film with strong emotions, impossible love, action and comedy mixed with energetic song-and-dance numbers, you are on the right track.

This typical mix of genres comes in part because of the need to appeal to wide audiences.

Bollywood Superstar. Photo.

The vast majority of Indian moviegoers are poor, and film is one of their only means of getting away from life’s harsh realities, at least for a while. That is why it is important for viewers to get “the full package” when they go to the cinema, and Bollywood delivers just that- a chance to laugh, to cry, fall in love, root for the hero, to celebrate, feel despair… and then to rejoice as everything works out for the best in the end, as love and goodness triumph over trouble and hardship – all in the same movie. Another reason for the appeal of Bollywood movies is their relative lack of sex and violence. Up to the past five years at least, even kissing was a rare sight in Indian films, and anything more was basically unheard of. However, Bollywood seems to be changing in this respect, growing closer to the Hollywood formula – films targeted to narrower audiences, more believable story lines, and more scantily clothed women.

Comprehension task

Comprehension questions

  1. Bollywood is one segment of Indian cinema, producing around 200 films a year. How many films are made in India in total?
  2. Where does the name Bollywood come from?
  3. What language is spoken in Bollywood movies?
  4. Describe the “typical” Bollywood movie.
  5. Name at least one reason why Bollywood movies contain so much plot.
  6. How is Bollywood changing?

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CC BY-SASkrevet av Celia Suzanna Sandor.
Sist faglig oppdatert 10.10.2018