Monday, December 31, 2007

Bollywood History of Modern India

Cover of the book Bollywood: A History By Mihir BoseLooking for something to read for the holidays, I came across "Bollywood - A History" by Mihir Bose. This is really a history of the Indian film industry, which, as the Wikipedia points out, is more than Bollywood. In part it is also a history of modern India, its suffering under British rule and US cultural influence.

Bose points out that a film was shown in India only seven months after the first one was shown in Paris by the Lumiere brothers in Paris on 28 December 1895. He relates how Maurice Sestier, on his way from Paris to Australia to promote cinema, stopped over at Bombay and put on a showing at 6 pm 7 July 1896. Another Australian connection is the actress Mary Ann Evans from Perth, Western Australia made films in India in the 1930s, under the name "Fearless Nadia".

I had my own Bollywood experience when, shorty after arriving in Goa I sat down on the dais next to the mother superior of the local convent school on prize day. One of the students doing the MCing announced "... and now a traditional dance from the people of ..." and several hundred students broke out into a Bollywood dance routine. On the same trip I a ttended the Goa Documentary Film Festival, where the guest of honor was "Gulzar", noted India film maker, who is mentioned several times by Bose.

Also the reliance of traditional Indian performance to Bollywood film was explained by Bose. The films derive their format from live performances which combine acting, music, drama and comedy. At the village level and at the state cultural center I attended live performances of this type.

Bollywood (Hindi: बॉलीवुड, Urdu: بالی وڈ) is the informal term popularly used for Mumbai-based Hindi-language film industry in India. Bollywood is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; it is only a part of the Indian film industry. Bollywood is one of the largest film producers in the world, producing more than 1,000 films a year,[1] with ticket sales of 3.6 billion.[2]

The name is a portmanteau of Bombay (the former name for Mumbai) and Hollywood, the center of the American film industry. However, unlike Hollywood, Bollywood does not exist as a real physical place. Though some deplore the name, arguing that it makes the industry look like a poor cousin to Hollywood, it seems likely to persist and now has its own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. ...

From: Bollywood, Wikipedia
ps: Check your copy of the book to make sure all the pages are there. The copy I read was missing pages 17 and 24.

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