A new comer to Bollywood? Appreciating its artistry is just a matter of understanding India’s unique means of filmmaking. Our primer explains the basics:

What is Bollywood?

Bollywood is just a term that identifies the Hindi-language film industry located in the Indian city of Mumbai, which used to be called Bombay. Bombay + Hollywood = Bollywood. The definition of is believed to possess been coined by way of a Western journalist in the 1970s. Many Indians take issue with the word since it signifies that Bollywood is just a lesser offshoot of Hollywood, when in reality, India produces much more films annually that attract far greater audience numbers globally compared to U.S. And, the Indian film industry is avove the age of Hollywood-by one year. bigg boss telugu vote

Are typical Indian films created by Bollywood?

No. Bollywood is only one of several film industries in India. Imagine if the U.S. had a thriving Spanish-language film industry that gave Hollywood a function because of its money, or regional film industries in Chicago, Atlanta, and Seattle that rivaled L.A.’s. That’s how it’s in India. The various Indian film industries are both language- and location-specific. They include Kollywood, which identifies Tamil-language films manufactured in the Kodambakkam district of the city of Chennai; Mollywood, that will be Malayalam-language cinema from the state of Kerala; and Tollywood, which identifies both Telugu-language films from the state of Andhra Pradesh and Bengali-language films manufactured in the Tollygunge neighborhood of Kolkata.

While Bollywood and India’s other film industries primarily produce commercial movies, India also includes a strong and respected art-film tradition, that will be referred to as “parallel cinema.” The delineation between commercial and art film in India is stronger than it’s in the U.S. However, that line is starting to blur as Bollywood is delving into artier projects and Indian art films are aiming for broader appeal.

Are typical Bollywood films musicals?

Most Bollywood films include musical numbers. Today’s movies generally have fewer musical numbers than older films. While 10 musical numbers in a picture wasn’t unusual previously, 4-6 are far more typical today. And more and more Bollywood movies don’t have any musical numbers at all.

It’s important to consider that Bollywood films are not musicals in the American sense. Bollywood has more in keeping with opera than with Broadway. The main function of musical numbers in Bollywood films (and operas) is to state emotion. Broadway musical numbers, on one other hand, primarily drive the plot. While Broadway musical numbers are built-into the narrative, Bollywood musical numbers are often not. Rather, they’re metaphors, taken from the plot, that report how a character feels, not what the smoothness is in fact doing.

Do the actors sing the songs?

Very rarely. A large proportion of film songs are sung by playback singers, that are famous in their particular right.

The movie and music industries in India are inextricably interlinked. Nearly all Indian pop music arises from movie soundtracks.

Why do so many Bollywood actors have the exact same last name? Are all of them related?

Nepotism is common in Bollywood and many actors and filmmakers come from family dynasties which were in the movie business for generations. However, there are lots of celebrities with the exact same common surnames, particularly Khan and Kapoor, that are not related.

The reason there’s no sex in Bollywood movies?

Two reasons: social and artistic. Onscreen physical intimacy is frowned upon in India-even kissing is rather rare. But more importantly, Indian filmmakers are masters of the art of seduction. There may not be any sex in Bollywood movies, however they sure are sexy. Actually, it’s precisely because there’s no sex that they’re filled up with so much incredible tension, that will be missing entirely from Hollywood movies these days. In the language of film critic Roger Ebert, “it’s less erotic to snoggle for 60 minutes than spend 60 seconds wondering if you are about to be snoggled.” He was referring to Bollywood.

Sometimes Bollywood musical numbers act instead for sex, depicting it not in virtually any crass, overt way, but implicitly, even metaphorically. The characters tend to be so carried away with passion that they suddenly come in exotic locations across the world-the pyramids of Egypt, the canals of Venice, the mountains of Switzerland-places that have nothing related to the plot but have everything related to the limitlessness of fantasy.

Why are Bollywood films such a long time?

To begin with, Indians are accustomed to longer kinds of entertainment. Cricket matches work for days. So do Indian weddings. A three-hour movie isn’t long at all in comparison. Also, Indians tend to be value-conscious. They expect a complete afternoon or evening of entertainment for the price tag on a ticket.

But the greatest reason Bollywood films are long is artistic. The full time commitment required of the audience heightens their emotional investment in the story. (The same is true of operas, which can be as long as well as more than Hindi films.) The result could be powerfully moving, even for Americans used to shorter films.

Bollywood movies are receiving shorter, though, mostly because there are fewer musical numbers than there used to be. While three and a half hours was once typical, three hours or less has become the norm.

What’s the greatest artistic difference between Bollywood and Hollywood?

In a phrase: “masala.” The idea of masala is key to understanding Bollywood films. It’s a culinary term that means “spicy mixture.” Masala filmmaking combines several genre in the exact same movie, blending aspects of comedy, romance, action, and drama. The target would be to attract as many folks as possible. This way there’s something for all in every film-the grandparents, the parents, the teenagers, the little kids-because Indians often visit the flicks as a family.

Hollywood filmmakers do the opposite-they do super-narrow niche marketing to a target the demographic groups they believe are probably the most profitable (and then ignore everyone else). One exception to this can function as James Bond movies, which were enormously successful for decades. There’s action, needless to say, romance, some campy comedy, and even only a little melodrama when James feels bad about his best friend betraying him or his latest lover dying in his arms.

That’s not to say that Bollywood films are masala. Many strictly belong to one genre or another, but even then, there’s often a rush of masala thrown in.

Do Bollywood actors work in Hollywood?

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is the first Indian actor to significantly crossover in the West. She appeared in The Mistress of Spices (2005) with Dylan McDermott, The Last Legion (2007) with Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley, and Pink Panther 2 (2009) with Steve Martin. She has additionally garnered more high-profile publicity in the West than any Bollywood actor, having appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Late Show with David Letterman, and 60 Minutes.

Two Bollywood actors appeared in the Oscar-winning British film Slumdog Millionaire (that’s right, it’s a British film): Anil Kapoor, who played the sleazy game-show host, and Irrfan Khan, who played law enforcement interrogator. Kapoor has since appeared in the hit American television series 24, which stars actor Kiefer Sutherland. Kapoor played a Middle-Eastern leader in the show for one season. Prior to Slumdog Millionaire, Khan appeared in the English-language films The Namesake (2006), A Mighty Heart (2007), and The Darjeeling Limited (2007).

Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat will star opposite Avatar actor Laz Alonso in the upcoming Hollywood political comedy, Love, Barack. Sherawat will play a volunteer coordinator on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, who falls deeply in love with her counterpart on John McCain’s campaign, played by Alonso. Sherawat can be appearing in another upcoming Hollywood film, Hisss, alongside Irrfan Khan.