I am quite certain that for those enamored with statistics, the fact that Bollywood is now the biggest filmmaker in terms of volume is no longer news. Bollywood has indeed come a long way too, perhaps, deserve to sit regally on the perch as the #1 film producing industry in the world.
But if you're of my generation and from my part of the world, the term Bollywood may only sound like a recent coinage to a film industry that made our weekends memorable. We simply knew it by the name of the nation from which such lengthy, neverending stories emanated from Indian Film.
Impact of Bollywood
Yes, that was the appellation by which we knew movies like "Mother Indian", "The Burning Train", "Mard", "Bombay to Goa", "Saajan" and "Shaan", and that made such actors as Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Manoj Kumar, and many others household names in parts of the African continent even though many of us as children couldn't tell where in the world India was.
The average Indian movie in those days was 2-3 hours long with plotlines that stretched into eternity but which were made bearable by the always appealing colorfulness of their costumes and of course, the melodious songs that interspersed the length of the movies. Songs that we endeavored to memorize and then regal one another which at the break of dawn on the Saturday mornings that followed our sleepless Friday nights.
Oh, what exciting memories they left us with as we traded their stories with those of the Chinese movies that were shown on alternate Fridays.
In 2017, Indian cinema produced 1,986 feature films, with Bollywood as its largest filmmaker, producing 364 Hindi films the same year. Bollywood represents 43 percent of Indian net box-office revenue; Tamil and Telugu cinema represent 36 percent, and the remaining regional cinema constituted 21 percent in 2014. Bollywood is one of the largest centers of film production in the world. In 2001 ticket sales, Indian cinema (including Bollywood) reportedly sold an estimated 3.6 billion tickets worldwide, compared to Hollywood's 2.6 billion tickets sold.
The most popular commercial genre in Bollywood since the 1970s has been the masala film, which freely mixes different genres including action, comedy, romance, drama, and melodrama along with musical numbers. Masala films generally fall under the musical film genre, of which Indian cinema has been the largest producer since the 1960s when it exceeded the American film industry's total musical output after musical films declined in the West; the first Indian musical talkie was Alam Ara (1931), several years after the first Hollywood musical talkie The Jazz Singer (1927).
Alongside commercial masala films, a distinctive genre of art films known as parallel cinema has also existed, presenting realistic content and avoidance of musical numbers. In more recent years, the distinction between commercial masala and parallel cinema has been gradually blurring, with an increasing number of mainstream films adopting the conventions which were once strictly associated with parallel cinema.
Perhaps Bollywood's greatest influence has been on India's national identity, where (with the rest of Indian cinema) it has become part of the "Indian story". In India, Bollywood is often associated with India's national identity. According to economist and Bollywood biographer Meghnad Desai, "Cinema actually has been the most vibrant medium for telling India its own story, the story of its struggle for independence, its constant struggle to achieve national integration and to emerge as a global presence"
In addition, Bollywood has been a significant form of soft power for India, increasing its influence and changing overseas perceptions of India. In Germany, Indian stereotypes included bullock carts, beggars, sacred cows, corrupt politicians, and catastrophes before Bollywood and the IT industry transformed global perceptions of India. Its role in expanding India's global influence is comparable to Hollywood's similar role with American influence.
To think that India and its film industry, generally recognized as Bollywood, got to where it is now overnight is to know little about this behemoth that it is today. The road has been tumultuous, fraught with the ridicules of naysayers. But it has proved that with a single-minded purpose, hard work, perseverance, and national consciousness, Bollywood makes it abundantly clear that it is a force to reckon with in the global film industry.
May 04, 2021
by Eguaogie Eghosa