Bollywood – An Insider’s View

I believe it is universally known that Bollywood is the film making center of India located in Mumbai. Bollywood didn’t explode with “talkies” as did Hollywood, California, but with “singies.” Movies from Mumbai are referred to as Hindi movies as well as Bollywood.

 

The first of the Bollywood movies with sound was Alam Ara, in 1933. The movie was a musical and gave rise to the quintessential heart of Hindi movies with a strong emphasis on song and dance numbers.

 

In the 1940’s and 50’s, Hindi movies were able to widen their appeal to audiences significantly with the establishment of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Now national film awards could be given out and the first film festival occurred in 1952.

 

In the 1960’s and 1970’s action movies and art movies began to take hold. Then, in the 1980’s the Indian love of music struck again with the popularity of musical romances.

 

The year 2000 saw the advent of the colossal multiplex in India and along with that came the onset of experimental film, with all indications that Indian film was ready to venture into unexplored regions of the cinematic world.

 

Currently, the Indian film industry is focused much more on scripts and the use of cutting edge technologies. With these additions plus the experimentation that was taking place, Indian films were able to go international with some great successes such as the huge hit, Slum Dog Millionaire.

 

Some would criticize Hindi movies as being overblown with scene chewing actors, brilliant colors and overblown direction and general production values. The actor’s facial expressions and body movements do seem extreme to the non-Indian sensibility. This kind of vibrancy of color and spirit fits right in with the Indian soul, however, and should never depart from their cinema, even if it does become somewhat subdued for the global audience.

 

Indian history is rich with a colorful and mysterious mythology and these form the basis for many of the story lines and musicality of the Bollywood films.

 

A look at the plot of one of the most famous, more modern and controversial films is The Cloud Door, screened in 1995 before the FTII amidst uproar. It is typically based on an old mythical story.

 

The plot deals with an Indian king who eavesdrops on a parrot telling erotic stories to his daughter. The king is not liking this at all. He demands the parrot be executed. The princess, the king’s daughter, is horrified and serves as a go-between trying to save the life of the bird by explaining to daddy that the parrot hasn’t a clue what it is he is relating.

 

In gratitude, the parrot flies to the princess’s lover and leads him through an intricate maze to the princess’s rooms, whereupon the two lovers spend many a delightful hour in the throes of Eros.

 

The Cloud Door flows like a folk tale and is not without its moments of humor. The screenwriter drew from the Sanskrit play Avimaraka of the 5th -7th century, the Sufi epic poem Padmavat from around the 13th century and the ever popular erotic Indian tales, Suksapiti.

 

It is amazing that The Cloud Door was surrounded by such controversy given the prolific erotic history of India’s art and literature. Nonetheless it created a storm when it was screened at the Film Festival in 1995. The todo surrounding the film did not stop the critics from giving it a rave review.

 

So, while those of you who have encountered any of Bollywood’s films, whether the old classics or the new experimental variety, may consider them somewhat provincial and overblown, stay tuned. As is the case for the arts all across the globe, the times they are a’changin.
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Ismail Shahid New Comedy Drama 2016 Alam Pa Sa De Ao Said Alam Pa Sa De Full Drama

Ismail Shahid, Said Rahman Sheno New Comedy Drama 2016 Alam Pa Sa De Ao Said Alam Pa Sa De Full Drama

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