The Indian film industry has a huge fan base not only at home but also abroad, especially in countries which have a significant Indian population. The term Bollywood is a term coined for the Hindi-language film industry set in Bombay, India. Bollywood is often incorrectly referred to the whole of Indian Cinema. It is in fact just a part of the film industry.
The introduction of Cinema in India began with the Lumiere Brothers’ screening six silent short films at the Watson Hotel in Bombay. In 1910, Dadasaheb Phalke attended a screening of The Life of Christ at P.B. Mehta’s American – Indian Cinema and decided to become a filmmaker himself. His first silent film Raja Harishchandra was released in 1913. The first Indian feature film with sound was Ardeshir Irani’s Alam Ara (1931) which became a super hit. The period between the 1930’s and 1940’s saw a great number of social upheavals and the partitioning of India. While most filmmakers chose the easy way out, there were some directors who embarked upon various social issues and used the freedom movement as a backdrop for their scripts.
The 1950’s brought with it colour films, yet people continued to ardently follow black and white films till the mid-1960s. Story plots usually revolved around romance and melodramatic themes. Success stories from this generation include actors like Dilip Kumar, Nargis, Madhubala, Nutan, Raj Kapoor, Meena Kumari, and Dev Anand. Directors soon changed focus from romance in the 1960’s to action films with stars like Dharmendra, Anil Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha. This trend continued till the early 1990’s.
The 1990’s saw the focus of films shifting back to family-centric love stories. Successful films of that period include Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994) and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995). The actors noted for their performance and who later on went on to bag bigger and better roles include Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan and actresses like Madhuri Dixit and Kajol. At the same time comedy and action films continued to hold the audience’s attention with popular actors such as Govinda, Akshay Kumar, Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor. Independent art films slowly started succeeding commercially around this time as well.
In 2000 Bollywood started garnering attention overseas due to box office hits such as Devdas, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Dhoom 2, while delivering a whole new generation of fresh young faces such as Aishwarya Rai, Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta and Rani Mukerji.