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Bollywood — The Pulse of India .

May 5, 2011

If you ask any person in India what Bollywood means he will consider you the most stupid person on earth. You will laughed at  ridiculed for asking such a question. Pata nahin kahan se aaya hai . Pagal hai ( Don’t know from where he has come from. Must be mad). You will get such comments from the By Passers. If there are two things which now represent India, Indians and its Identity is Bollywood and Cricket.These two has changed the face of Indian culture and the lifestyle of Indians.They are as Popular here as Football in Brazil, Baseball and Basketball in U.S.A, Hollywood in U.S, or any other popular sports or event  in any country which it will love to be represented by in front of the world.

You may still ask what on earth is this Bollywood. Is it a kind of a wood available only in India.Well here is the answer to your question.Bollywood is to India what Hollywood is to this world. Bollywood represents Indian film Industry or to be more precise Hindi film industry.If Hollywood originates from Los- Angeles, California in the U.S. , Bollywood originates from Mumbai ( previously Bombay), Maharashtra from where it derives its name.All the major studios of Hindi cinema are located in Mumbai.In fact Mumbai is the home to both Bollywood and Indian Cricket .

Hindi is the national language of India and is spoken and understood by almost all Indians . Anybody making a movie in India cannot ignore this vast majority of people who form the largest single market in the world  for the movies of around 600 to 800 million people.No doubt Hindi movies became favorite to Indian movie makers who wanted to spread their message to vast majority of people living all over the Urban and rural countryside in India.

Unlike in U.S. where English is easily understood and spoken by all Americans and all English speaking nations across  the world, the Indian market is not so homogenous.In fact Maharashtra state where Mumbai is located is a Marathi speaking state . There are so many languages spoken in India and so many cultures that any movie director would face various problems communicating to this audience through this medium . They have to keep their audience sensibilities and sentiments in their mind and should avoid hurting their feelings.That’s why Indian censor board was created to control the content in the movie before it is released to the Audience.

The history of Hindi cinema dates back to 1913 when the first silent movie Raja Harishchandra by Dadasaheb Phalke was released.In 1930’s the Industry was producing 200 movies per annum. In 1931 the first Indian sound movie Alam Ara by Ardeshir Irani was released .In 1937 the first hindi color movie Kisan Kanya by Ardeshir Irani was released .The 1940’s to 1960’s saw the Golden age of Hindi cinemas dominated by actors like Rajkapoor, Guru Dutt, Dilip Kumar,Sunil Dutt ,Dev Anand , Jitender , Raj Kumar and Ashok Kumar . Actresses like Madhubala, Nargis, Suraiya ,Meena Kumary, Wahida Rehman were the top heroines . The term Bollywood has its origin during 1970’s when Indian film Industry replaced Hollywood as the world’s largest film producer . Hollywood was further pushed down to number three postion by Nigeria.. The late 60’s saw the emergence of modern and romantic films dominated by actors Shammi Kapoor , Manoj Kumar, Dharmendra ,Dilip Kumar, Rishi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor , Rajendra Kumar  and Rajesh Khanna and actresses like Sharmila Tagore ,Mumtaz in Indian Industry. The action movies was dominated by one angry man Amitabh Bacchan accompanied with few stars like Mithun Chakravorty , Anil kapoor , Shatrughan Sinha  and  actresses like Hema Malini , Rekha , Zeenat Aman, Parveen Bobby and Jaya Bachhan during 1970’s till 1990’s who replaced every other actor during this period.The late 1980’s saw the reemergence of romantic films dominated by stars like Amir Khan , Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan along with action movie stars like Akshay Kumar, Sunny Deol ,Govinda, Sunil Shetty,  Sanjay Dutt , Ajay Devgan   accompanied by actresses like Raveena Tandon , Madhuri Dixit, Sri Devi , Kajol , Juhi Chawla and Karishma Kapoor. Year 2000 saw the growth of Bollywood’s popularity  across the world .This led the nation’s filmmaking to new heights in terms of quality, cinematography and innovative story lines as well as technical advances in areas such as special effects, animation, etc. The opening up of the overseas market, more Bollywood releases abroad and the explosion of multiplexes in big cities, led to wider box office successes in India and abroad . In 2008 , Hindi Movie Slumdog Millionaire directed by Danny Boyle created history in Bollywood by winning 8 Oscars Awards. Later it won 100 international awards and had 51 nominations. A repeat of Gandhi directed by Richard Attenborough in1982 , which won 8 Oscar awards and many other International awards .  New stars like Hritik Roshan , Bobby Deol , Ranbir Kapoor and Abhisheik Bacchan among with actresses  like Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukherjee , Priyanka Chopra , Katrina Kaif  were seen during this period. Bollywood boasts not only of Heroes and Heroines , but also of Actors with Negative roles (The Villians ) . Actors like Jeevan , Prem Chopra, Kulbhushan Kharbanda  , Danny Dezongpa , Sadashiv Amrapurka ,Amrish Puri, Gulshan Grover ,Ranjit , Ajit,   Amjad Khan and actresses like Sashikala, Lolita Powar, Helen, Bindu are notorious in these characters. Then we had actors and actresses playing Character roles like Nirupa Roy, Rakhi.Sanjeev Kumar Anupam Kher . We have few of the best comedians like Johnny Walker, Mehmood , Tun Tun, Paintel , Jagdeep, Kader Khan, Johnny lever, Paresh Rawal, Kishore kumar  and Asrani .Directors like Raj Kapoor, Ramesh Sippy, G.P. Sippy, Manmohan Desai, Guru Dutt, Prakesh Mehra,Yash Chopra , Bimal Roy , Ashotosh Gowarilkar, Sanjay leela Bhansali, Hrishikesh Mukherjee , Basu Chaterjee , Ram Gopal Verma are few of the better known Directors of Hindi Cinema.

The Hindi film industry has preferred films that appeal to all segments of the audience  and has resisted making films that target narrow audiences. It was believed that aiming for a broad spectrum would maximize box office receipts. However, filmmakers may be moving towards accepting some box-office segmentation, between films that appeal to rural Indians, and films that appeal to urban and overseas audiences.

Unlike the Hollywood movies or in fact movies from any other country the uniqueness of Indian films including that of Bollywood were the inclusion of songs and dances in the movie. Almost all Indian movies have at least 8 to 10 songs with dances in it of all kinds . No hero or heroine can succeed in Bollywood if they they are not good dancer.In fact most of the movies are recognized by their hit songs and dances. These songs play an important role in the success of the movie in the Box Office.Therefore the film music album is released far before the release of the movie itself.Play back singers like Kishore Kumar, Geeta Dutt , Noor Jehan, K.L. Saigal, Lata Mangehkar, Asha Bhonsle,Mohammad Rafi , Mukesh , Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam, Udit Narayan, Manna Dey , A.R. Rehman , Himesh Reshamiya have  reputations to content with.

The Indian audience expect their movies to have all kinds of entertainer in it. Songs and dances, love triangles, action with dare devil stunts , tragedy, comedy, horror scenes , melodramas all consolidated in three hour long movie .They frequently employ formulaic ingredients such as star-crossed lovers and angry parents, love triangles, family ties, sacrifice, corrupt politicians, kidnappers, conniving villains, courtesans with heart of gold, long-lost relatives and siblings separated by fate, dramatic reversals of fortune, and convenient coincidences. No doubt the movies from 1970’s were termed as Masala Movies as it has all the above Spices  that appeals to the public.

Bollywood employs people from all over India with no discrimination of any kind . It attracts thousands of young actors and actresses from all over the country hoping to make a break in the Industry.Models and beauty contestants, television actors, theatre actors and even common people come to Mumbai with the hope and dream of becoming a star. Only few succeeded . Rest have to content with the lesser roles or go back . Mostly the actors came from Punjab who made it big in the Bollywood.In fact Bollywood Stardom has been dominated by Punjabis , Bengalis and Muslims . The actresses were mostly dominated front Punjab,South India , Bengal and Muslims.The Directors and producers too were from these regions. The major market of Hindi movies is North India comprising Hindi speaking states of Uttar Pradesh & Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh & Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan, Bihar & Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi .

Budgeting , Marketing and Returns in Bollywood :

A Big Budget movie in Bollywood costs around Rs100- 150 crores ( 20 to 25 million US Dollars ) approximately. Others cost between Rs 25 to 50 crores depending upon the star casts and location of its shootings. Shootings of films is done both in India and abroad  like Europe, U.S , South africa, South East Asian nations , Australia, Canada , New Zealand which adds to its budget. A superstar with few box office hits behind him commands a price of Rs 8 to 10 crores ( 1.8 to 2 million US Dollars) . An successful actress will cost a bit less than that. Others stars commands a price ranging from Rs 1 crore to 5 crores. Funding of Hindi movies is done by Private distributors, and few large studios.Now days Indian Banks and Financial institutions are allowed to provide finances to Indian cinema.Some funding comes from illegitimate sources like Mumbai Underworld as the funding is not regulated.

The marketing of Bollywood movies is done through advertising through billboards and posters.Previously hand made billboards and paintings were used made by poor artisans .Now days a majority of the huge and ubiquitous billboards in India’s major cities are created with computer-printed vinyl. Releasing the film music, or music videos, before the actual release of the film can also be considered a form of advertising. A popular tune is believed to help pull audiences into the theaters. Bollywood movie stars appear in print and television advertisements for other products, such as watches or soap . Advertisers say that a star endorsement boosts sales.Bollywood is also used to advertise other products.The recent IPL-20/20 cricket tournament in India has numbers of Bollywood Superstars who have invested lot of money and are sponsoring various teams like Kolkata Knight Riders by Shah Rukh Khan , Delhi Dare Devils by Akshay Kumar, Royal Challengers Bangalore by Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone,  Kings Eleven Punjab by Preity Zinta and Rajasthan Royals by Shilpa Shetty. Popular Quiz shows  on Television  like Kaun Banega Crorepati , Das Ka Dam was hosted and anchored by Super Stars like Amitabh Bacchan  and Shahrukh Khan.. Popular Reality shows and contests  like Big Boss on Television have seen actors like Amitabh Bacchan and Salman khan anchoring the show. Akshay Kumar and Shahrukh Khan has anchored various shows and contests having Dare Devil Stunts. Many Comedy shows , musical shows and songs & dance  competitions invite various cine stars to watch and grade the performance of the contestents . Product Placement, as used in Hollywood, is widely practiced in Bollywood. Bollywood movie stars appear in print and television advertisements for other products, such as watches or soap. Advertisers say that a star endorsement boosts sales. Bollywood publicists have begun to use the Internet as a venue for advertising. Most of the better-funded film releases now have their own websites, where browsers can view trailers, stills, and information about the story, cast, and crew.   Awards and film seminars shown on television also add publicity to the movies and stars . The Film fare award ceremony started in 1954 by popular movie magazine Film fare is the most prominent film events given for Hindi cinema.  As in Film fare , the National film awards were started in 1954 by the Government run Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF). Additional ceremonies held in India are Stardust Awards,Star Screen awards. Ceremonies held aboard are Bollywood movie awards in long island, New York, U.S. , Global Indian Film Awards, IIFA Awards, Zee Cine Awards held in different countries each year. Most of these award ceremonies are lavishly staged spectacles, featuring singing, dancing, and numerous celebrities.

An interesting comparison chart of year 2001 between Bollywood and Hollywood will bring out the facts for itself:


Bollywood produced 1031 films compared to 739 films by Hollywood in this period. The tickets sold in Bollywood were $3.6 billion compared to $2.6 billion in Hollywood. Yet the Worldwide gross earnings in Bollywood were only $1.3  Billion  a fraction of Hollywood earnings of  $51 U.S. Billion. The average production costs for a Bollywood film is meager $1.6 million  compared to $47.7 million for a movie in Hollywood.The average cost of Marketing a movie in Bollywood is only $500,000 compared to $ 27.3 million in Hollywood. It means that the total cost per film ( Production plus Marketing ) in Bollywood  is $2.1 million while it is $75 million in Hollywood . The Total cost ( Production plus Marketing) of making all the Bollywood movies in year 2001 was $ 2.02 billion compared to $ 55 Billion for making all Hollywood movies.Finally we come to the conclusion that Bollywood Industry suffered a loss of $ 0.72 Billion compared to $ 4 Billion in Hollywood Industry .

In 2008 the biggest box office hit Ghajni had the gross earning of Rs 1.89 Billion ( $0.042 Billion ) from all over the world. In 2009 the biggest box office hit 3 Idiots made an earning of Rs 3.39 Billion ( $0.075 Billion) from all over the world. In 2010 the biggest box office hit Dabangg made Rs 2.12 Billion ($0.047 Billion) , Golmaal 3 made Rs0.70 Billion ($0.015 Billion) while Rajneeti made 0.93 Billion($0.02Billion) . In Overseas market , My Name is Khan has made $19.2 million in 2010 , while 3 Idiots made $15.3 million in 2009. Hollywood Blockbuster Avatar made a whooping  $2.7 billion in 2009, while Titanic in 1997 made $1.8 Billion . In 2010 Alice in wonderland and Toy Story made $1 Billion each.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) estimates that the Bollywood industry losses $100 million annually in loss of revenue from pirated home videos and DVDs. Besides catering to the homegrown market, demand for these copies is large amongst some sections of the Indian diaspora, too. (In fact, bootleg copies are the only way people in Pakistan can watch Bollywood movies, since the Government of Pakistan has banned their sale, distribution and telecast). Films are frequently broadcasted without compensation by countless small cable TV companies in India and other parts of South Asia . Small convenience stores run by members of the Indian diaspora in the U.S. and the UK regularly stock tapes and DVDs of dubious provenance, while consumer copying adds to the problem. The availability of illegal copies of movies on the Internet also contributes to the piracy problem.Satellite TV, television and imported foreign films are making huge inroads into the domestic Indian entertainment market. In the past, most Bollywood films could make money; now fewer tend to do so. However, most Bollywood producers make money, recouping their investments from many sources of revenue, including selling ancillary rights. There are also increasing returns from theatres in Western countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, where Bollywood is slowly getting noticed. As more Indians migrate to these countries, they form a growing market for upscale Indian films.

It is 2011 and Bollywood is only two years away from celebrating its centenary in 2013. It has come a long way from where it started in 1913 when India was under British rule. It has raked various social issues like Untouchbility, Caste system, Zamindari system , Communalism, Child Labor and  Women liberation . It has been in the fore front in supporting the freedom movement against British rule, has composed Patriotic songs which became as popular as our National Anthem.  It has walked along side India and its people , shared their joy and sorrow and has helped them to escape from the daily grind for three hours. No doubt Hindi films are said to be escapist .They have made cinema hall a favorite place for the family , for the couples , for the students  and for the love birds who want to rest and share together their feelings sometime in a quiet place . Hardly there would be a person in India who has not visited a cinema hall . From a rickshaw puller or a laborer to a rich landlord or a business man , all have visited and enjoyed their  precious three hours in this place forgetting all their troubles and daily worries.Actors like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dharmendra, Amitab Bacchan, Rajesh Khanna , Shahrukh Khan and Actresses like Madhubala, Nargis, Hema Malini ,Madhuri Dixit ,Sri devi have become household names.They have been immulated thousands of times by the men in the street , their dialogs spoken and mimicked innumerable times on all most all occasions like on stage , in comedy show in parties and various other advertisements.Indeed if there is life in India it is Bollywood which keeps on pulstating continuously , giving its millions of audience vicarious pleasure in the theatre and keeping their hopes and dreams alive. Nobody here would see this Pulse of India to stop pulstaing which can only see millions of Dead men and Dead  women walking with their soul snatched away from them.

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