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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