Introduction to Indian cinema

Did you know that India has a very vibrant Film Industry? It is considered as the biggest film industry in the world. So much so that, India’s film industry has been popularly dubbed as Bollywood. Although the main language in which the movies are produced is Hindi, almost every regional language of India has its own mini film industry catering for their respective areas.

Most of the Hindi films are produced in Mumbai or previously Bombay, the capital of the famous Maharashtra state of India. It is here that most of the movies are made and where most of the studios are situated apart from cities of Chennai and Kolkata.

Deepika Padukone in "Om Shanti Om"

Deepika Padukone in “Om Shanti Om”

History of Indian cinema

The first Hindi movie produced in 1913 was the black and white film called “Raja Harishchandra” directed by Dadasaheb Phalke. Since then, the films continued to become very popular. The first colour movie was “Kisan Kanya” and the first movie with sound was “Alam Ara”. The introduction of colour and sound made it possible for Indian film makers to introduce music into the movies that became so popular that no movie in India is now complete without songs. During the 1930’s the Indian film industry faced problems due to the Freedom movement against the British Empire but nonetheless movies continued to be made.

Epic Indian Cinema, the Mother India

Epic Indian Cinema: Mother India

The years 1940’s to 1960 are considered to be the golden period of Indian cinema. It was in this era that the famous film makers left a permanent mark in Indian cinema. Film makers such as Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor and Bimal Roy of that era are considered as pioneers that helped shaped the industry. It was in the 1970’s when Bollywood films achieved major commercial success and there was no looking back for the Hindi film makers.

Although Indian movies have not been awarded international fame but Mehboob Khan’s movie “Mother India” received universal acclaim and became India’s first movie to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Other films to follow were “Salaam Bombay” and “Lagaan”.

Story lines of commercial Hindi movies

Most Hindi movies have a typical story line. The plot of the story would typically consist of a man, a woman and a villain. The boy perhaps would be poor and the girl rich and the villain her fiancé. The boy and the girl would like to get married but could not to do so because of social stigma. After much drama, emotions, music and dance, fights; there would be a truce and finally the boy and girl would get married with great pomp and show.

Songs and music in Indian cinema

No Indian movie would be complete without songs and colourful dances. The words of the song would be written by a lyrist, music composed by a music director and the song usually sung by a playback singer. The songs are crafted in such a way that they would fit in with the theme and plot of the story line.

A typical song would be where the hero will try to woo the girl to become his girlfriend. You won’t help noticing the numerous costume and scene changes. These songs have become integral part of Indian culture. If you were to walk in a crowded Indian street, you are bound to hear Hindi songs being played in shops and various stalls lining up the street. The Hindi film songs have become a prominent feature and part of the Indian culture. Today, there are numerous radio stations that would broadcast Bollywood music 24 hours around the clock not only in India but around the world.

Item songs in Indian cinema

Many movies would also have an “item song”, a song that has little to do with the plot of the movie. The role of the song would be to make the movie popular and attract audience to the movie. In almost all circumstances, the picturisation would consist of a scantily dressed girl performing a sexually provocative dance. The ultimate role of an “item song” would be to generate publicity and ensure commercial success. And the method works. Recently a movie called “Dabanng” had an item song called “Munni Badnam Hui” featuring Malaika Arora Khan that went viral. Although the success of the movie cannot be attributed to this song alone but it played a major in generating a buzz amongst the Indian movie goers.

Item song from film “Dabanng”, “Munni Badnam Hui” featuring Malaika Arora Khan

Indian art movies

Indian art movies or parallel movies are alternatives to the commercial movies. It would consist of serious stuff such as social issues, realism or strong story lines. Although in recent years there has been a decline in such movies, they are still popular amongst many Indians with unconventional taste. Some of the best art movies include; Dor, Black, Sarkar, Chandni Bar. Mandi, Earth, Pinjar, Bawandar, Hey Ram and Iqbar: The Rampur Express amongst many others.

So if you are in India then you must make sure that you watch a Hindi movie in the numerous multi-screen theatres called multiplexes around the country. Some of the famous amongst many cinema houses include PVR Select Citywalk, Satyam Cineplex (Janakpuri, Delhi), Wave Cinemas (Ghaziabad & Noida), M2K Cinemas (Delhi) and Adlabs-Big Cinemas.

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44 Responses to “Introduction to Indian cinema”

  1. Rahul says:

    very nice post!!!! nice research about indian cinema i want to say one thing about inidan cinema that is entertainment entertainment and entertainment
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  2. Sapna says:

    HI Shalu jee

    I was not aware of first color movie and first movie with sound.

    Truly said, Our commercial movie story line is very repetitive and one can easily anticipate what the end will be like.

    Thanks for sharing this info.

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  3. I love cinema and also heard about Indian movies, I guess I also saw one or two. Could you maybe recommend a must-see Indian movie? Which is your favorite? :)

  4. I don’t really enjoy the standard Bollywood movies as I feel they’re just too repetitive (I feel the same about Hollywood), but I have seen some great Indian movies. I especially love the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray. I saw the first one on TV many years ago and immediately went out and rented the other two.
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  5. I see great entertainment here. I love the music and the dancing routine.

    The guys in the car add some drama. I would not mind watching the whole movie with subtitles of course so I could follow.

    It is unfortunate all these good movies do not reach a bigger audience.

    One day someone will find the magic formula.
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  6. Shorya Bist says:

    Hi Shalu Ji,

    How are you.Wow i like the topic.I am very happy to share my views over Indian cinema as i am from Acting background.

    Many thing i knew in the article which you mentioned.I am very big fan of Raj kapoor i watched almost all movies of him most of my faviorates are shree 420 and Mera naam joker.There is a Theater for plays in Mumbai named after is Dad Privithvi raj Kapoor known as prithvi theaters i done some plays in that theater.

    hehehe i liked your story line…This use to happen in earlier cinema.But now i think Indian cinema has become huge.You should have shared the journey of indian cinema also till now.

    I think Indian cinema is now lot more than commericial stuff.I said in some discussion that Indian cinema will go to realistic films and max 5 6 six years there will be only realistic cinemas ,and commercial fade out and this is happening slowly slowly i think you would agree with me on this.

    I know bollywood industry is biggest in the world but i still want and wish that Indian cinema should provide more value and perfection from movies,quality movies and work should be rewarded as well from indian audience,which is happening slowly.

    I am stopping here else i will fill a page of comment with lot more.

    Thanks for sharing
    Shorya Bist
    From Youthofest
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    • Shalu Sharma says:

      Hi Shorya, are you related to Dinu Maurya by any chance?
      I don’t know anyone from the film industry, although one Bhojpuri Singer called Kalpana is a member of YouBihar.
      I think you are right on on providing value, sometimes when you watch Indian movies, there is feeling of deja vu like you’ve been there before to know that its a spoof of an American movie. Even the tunes of many songs are lifted from western songs.
      But things are changing, the makes are getting better. Some good movies are being produced and new storylines and innovations are used. But it still has long way to go.
      Thank you for your comment.
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  7. Sounds interesting :) Thanks for the recommendation, will look for this one.
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  8. Gabriel says:

    Since reading this wonderful post i don’t know anythink about indian Cinema, but.. i like it! ;)
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  9. Janit says:

    Thats the Bollywood Blog post. Indian cinema is maturing and I think along with the audience, the quality will also improve bit by bit. Eventually, like our politicians, our heroes are the projections of the people and their collective likes and dislikes.
    Nice post Shalu.
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  10. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Thanks for sharing the history of Indian cinema Shalu. I agree that Indian cinema is one of the biggest and famous cinema of the world. I’ve watched the movie “Raja Harishchandra” years ago and I don’t remember much.

    Thanks for sharing the information bro.
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  11. peo services says:

    awesome information here…thanks a lot for such post here…keep this going .

  12. Wonderful post.. very good research and great writing.
    I also liked your introduction, a hands-on mom, who has started her own social networking site, is an active (and very good!) blogger.. Wow. hats off to you!
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  13. Ankit says:

    That was really an indeep discussion about Cinemas. I’ve been a fan of bollywood for long.
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  14. Nice information about Indian cinemas. But things are changing a lot faster. Earlier movies were just awesome in story line and songs. Now you rarely see such story lines.

  15. Larry says:

    Amazing and excellent post! I am a big fan of indian cinemas. Thanks for sharing this post with us.

  16. kristine says:

    I love Indian cinema! My most favorite is the “Three Idiots”. It was so awesome that I saw it more than twice. I agree with every word that you said here. Thanks for sharing these awesome facts about Indian cinema.

  17. Calra says:

    The bright colors and ideas are outstanding! They use a certain amount of creativity that will make you adore their crafts, most especially their movies. Thanks for such a wonderful review. It reminds me of my favorite Indian film. Thanks!

  18. Enstine Muki says:

    Thanks for sharing this history Shalu. I used to be fan of Indian films – especially the dance. I remember one of my favorite when I was kid, was the dog revenge film. Sincerely, I don’t even know if ‘dog revenge’ was title of the film. All I knew was the dog avenging the killing of its master ;)
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    • Shalu Sharma says:

      Enstine, you got me thinking now. I can’t remember the name of the dog revenge movie but I have feeling that I must have watched this movie. I will try to find out the name if I can and will let you. Thank you for your taking the time and commenting, I very much appreciate it.
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  19. Emilia says:

    The story itself is indeed amazing, what more if you make the production so colorful and vibrant? All these are the reasons why Indian films are awesome. Thanks for explaining the reasons why I like it, it became clear to me now. Thanks a lot!
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  20. Veronica says:

    I’ve been a fan of Indian Films for as long as I can remember. I just love the music and choreography! It’s just something you don’t see everyday. 3 Idiots is my all-time favorite!

  21. Freya says:

    I have been to Mumbai a couple times for work and I just loved Indian movies. They are beautiful, colorful and romantic :-)
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  22. sai says:

    Firstly India is famous for movies. In India many people wanted to spend their leisure time so for that reason everyone want entertainment for this reason people will go and watch films along with their familiea friends etc
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  23. sai says:

    Firstly India is famous for movies. In India many people wanted to spend their leisure time so for that reason everyone want entertainment for this reason people will go and watch films along with their familiy friends etc

  24. alena says:

    Hello Shalu,
    I like the Mother India film even I belongs to USA. This is a really awesome movie and we have decided to watch it on this mothers day.
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    • Meena Sharma says:

      Nice post!! Its really glad to hear that Indian Cinema’s fans are all over the world. Indian cinema is considered as the world’s largest film industry. Around 400 movies are releases every year. Just reading the comments of other people on your post and feeling very proud that I am Indian…

  25. Shahbaz says:

    Bored off with the storyline of Indian cinema but still love its Music and Item numbers. Hope some upcoming movies will change this fact.
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  26. Prasad Joshi says:

    Every article about Indian movies is incomplete without mentioning Shahrukh Khan & Dilip Kumar

  27. Bikram says:

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  28. Neha says:

    I like the Mother India film even I belongs to USA. This is a really awesome movie and we have decided to watch it on this mothers day.
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  29. Himuin says:

    Bollywood videos are most popular to us. All movies make super hit. This movie song is too much popular. It’s all video song is available for watch and enjoy. We always try to update with latest video song.

  30. Nimesh says:

    Thanks mate for the informative article, many of us would not be knowing about the history of India cinema, even i was not aware about the first movie. Thanks again.

  31. Rajat says:

    Hahahaha….loved the part about songs in Indian Movies, esp. this part
    “A typical song would be where the hero will try to woo the girl to become his girlfriend.”
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  32. Indian cinema has grown from the past and is getting better, though we till see many many rip off movies but still they glamour added to them is worth watching. They also need to work in creating movies with social issues.

    Keep up the good work Bollywood..!
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  33. Enric says:

    From my point of view, I would Like to say that India is awesome and Bollywood Movies are Much more Good than any others does and For Record of Movies Released Indian Cinema Holds the Record for Releasing Movies Most Frequently and would just life to say that it’s worth Watching at Once .

    By the way thanks for writing this wonderful and informative post !
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  34. Enric says:

    From my point of view, I would Like to say that India is awesome and Bollywood Movies are Much more Good than any others does and For Record of Movies Released Indian Cinema Holds the Record for Releasing Movies Most Frequently and would just life to say that it’s worth Watching at Once .

    By the way thanks for writing this wonderful and informative post !
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  35. tarun says:

    good article by the author of this post my concern not to get used of the website and article and the comment which I commenting on it right now

  36. Karthik says:

    Great Article. Nowadays item songs have become very important in bollywood movie. Almost each movie has a item song in it.
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