The history of Bollywood (the Hindi movie industry) goes back to 1913, when Dadasaheb Phalke financed and made the silent movie Raja Harishchandra. It was a major hit and served as an impetus to many skilled and creative people to make their own movies. The other milestones came with Alam Ara in 1931, which was the first Indian sound film, and Kisan Kanya, which was the first Hindi language colour film.
Films that came out of Bollywood during the 1940s were often escapist fares, owing to the social and political upheavals that were brought about by the nationalist movement, which coincided with World War II. However, socio political problems were also depicted on the big screen, with films like.
Poverty of the rural masses and undying family values were portrayed with remarkable realism in Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957). During the same period, ace director Guru Dutt gave the audience such wonderful films like Pyaasa, and the multitalented Raj Kapoor made two memorable films, namely Awara and Shree 420. Mughal-E-Azam, an epic movie released in 1960, recreated the Mughal age on celluloid with remarkable finesse.
Film actors like Dev Anand, Nargis, Ashok Kumar and Madhubala became heartthrobs of millions, and music directors like OP Nayyar and SD Burman enthralled listeners by their immortal musical scores. It was during the 1950s and 60s that Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi gained widespread recognition as playback singers.
Shammi Kapoor found his niche as a swinging star of the 60s with his on-screen histrionics and Elvis-like looks. The 70s was a decade for Amitabh Bachchan with his characters fighting against injustice and corruption. Audiences in the early and mid 80s were immersed in action films, but the nationwide release of Qayamat se Qayamat Tak in 1988 changed the paradigm and romantic films became well known, and their popularity has continued till the present day and is quite prominent in the latest Bollywood movies. However, today Bollywood movies are much more sophisticated and they now attract a global audience.