Glossary: Bollywood

Bollywood is a phrase the west uses to refer to Indian movies, though in reality it only applies to movies from Bombay (now Mumbai) - hence Bollywood.

Bollywood is Singing In the Rain meets Indiana Jones. In a Bollywood movie, the good guy beats the bad guy and always wins the girl and gyrates through some pretty difficult (for Westerners) dance sequences along the way.

Bollywood is an escape from reality as is almost every other kind of movie out of India's massive film industry. It’s the largest film industry in the world because it allows a billion people a way out from the everyday struggle of their lives – three hours of fantasy.

Movie plots are fairly easy to predict.

A low-caste boy with a heart of gold falls in love with a rich upper-caste girl and they have a secret wedding. And the movie is their love story.

Or it’s about an unlikely hero who fights against the tyranny of a local feudal landowner with the help of the simple feisty village girl he loves. There’s never any sex, and in most movies there’s not even any kissing. However there’s an awful lot of sexual tension.

Or it's about twins or siblings separated at birth and raised by others. One grows up to be a rich underworld don and the other becomes a poor, idealistic cop. They battle to the death before the eyes of their distraught birth mother who finally tells them they are brothers as she herself dies thanks to a ricocheting bullet (after at least six song and dance numbers mind you).

Sure these premises are kitschy. But the movies are made and watched with a great deal of affection. People even throw money at movie screens when they watch a scene with some great dialogue or get right into a song-and-dance number.

The music from Bollywood is India’s pop music and great lines of dialogue enter everyday speech. (think "Luke, I am your father.").

Bollywood characters are clichés, stereotypes. Bollywood acting is usually over-the-top and campy.

The key characters are usually The Hero, The Heroine, The Vamp (the bad/villain’s girl with a heart of gold), The Villain (who has no redeeming features), The Daku (trans: the Bandit, or the villain’s henchman), The Jester/Sidekick (usually provides comic relief to the hero.)

The advertising for Bollywood movies is as gaudy, loud and melodramatic as the movies.

Article: Creative Commons License 2008 Gavin Barrett

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Canada License.

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