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Is Bollywood a Real Place?
by Eguaogie Eghosa Aug 13, 2021 Views (1.7K)
 'Bollywood,' is the appellation of the Hindi film industry which is derived from Mumbai, once known as Bombay, and the Hollywood film industry in the United States. While some American film studios have offices in Hollywood, Bollywood does not have a physical presence. When India overtook America as the world's top film producer in the 1970s, the word 'Bollywood' became popular.

In 2017, India's feature film industry produced 1,986 films, with Bollywood sitting on top of that pile by producing 364 Hindi films in the same year. In 2014, Bollywood accounted for 43 percent of Indian net box-office earnings, while Tamil and Telugu films accounted for 36 percent and regional films accounted for 21 percent. Bollywood is one of the world's most important film production centers. According to reports, Indian films (including Bollywood) sold an estimated 3.6 billion tickets worldwide in 2001, compared to 2.6 billion sold by Hollywood.

The concept of ‘Bollywood’ is more of an industry rather than one of a geographical location since the term has come to be used, although erroneously, as a representation of all movies produced in India even though the Indian film industry itself has many faces.

While Bollywood, as earlier mentioned, derived from an amalgamation of Mumbai’s old name, Bombay and Hollywood; the geographical representation of the film industry stretches beyond the city itself. The partition of India in 1947, which split the country into the Republic of India and Pakistan, prompted a mass exodus of cinema talent from areas like Lahore and Calcutta, which were hit hard by the partition violence. The Mumbai film industry's position as India's primary center for film production was further cemented by these events; giving preeminence to the locality as the foremost center for film and theatre production.

This localization of this filmmaking process created the illusion of Bollywood as a place rather than generalizing appellation for the Indian film industry. As a matter of fact, this has generated some sort of criticism of the name as a ‘weak imitation’ of Hollywood.

Cities often live in our imaginations and Bollywood has helped to thrust upon the rest of the world, the physical and architectural images of Bombay (now Mumbai) created of fictions and truths as brought to the rest of the world through cinema; thus Bollywood as a place can only be conceptualized in the imaginations of the films that bring the life of the city of Mumbai, and indeed all cities of India as portrayed by the Indian film industry to us.

Where Bollywood to be a geographical location, it would limit our view and, perhaps, prevent us from truly seeing ‘all of India’ as we should with all of its beauty in diversity; both physical and socio-cultural.

But perhaps, the major reason why Bollywood cannot just be limited to a geographical location is the influence that the film industry has had – and seems to continue to have in influencing the social and cultural lives of the Indian people way beyond the boundaries of the Indian state.
For many Indians in the diaspora; Bollywood has remained an invaluable tool in socializing the generation of Indians born outside the country. Thus, Bollywood appears to find a geographical locality wherever its movies find an audience who are imparted by its cultural representation and consequently becoming a virtual ambassador for the nation of India.

Bollywood is a cultural icon for the Indian nation and also a source of pride especially since it wrestled the title of the largest film producing industry of the iron grip of the American film industry known as Hollywood.  And while that may have been made possible through the combined efforts of all the film industries in the country such as Tamil and Telugu film industries among others; there is no doubt that the entire nation of Indian has little or no qualms in letting Bollywood be the face of the Indian film industry, now and into the foreseeable future.

Bollywood is not a real place by geographical definition, but it is, however, a real film world that continues to churn out movies that play their part in influencing the movie world and the real world.

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