History of Bollywood

Alam Arya
Bollywood is the name given to India’s film making industry much as Americans associate Hollywood with film production. What most people don’t realize, however, is that Bollywood has a long and rich history that goes almost as far back as that of Hollywood.

The first films every produced in India’s Bollywood were soundless short films. The Lumiere Brothers created them in 1896 at the Watson Hotel. It wasn’t until May of 1913 when the first movie filmed by an Indian was released for viewing in Bombay. This film was called, “Raja Harishchandra”. Because of technological limitations, it took a bit longer for ‘talkies’, or movies with sound, to reach India.

The first talkie was released for viewing in India in March of 1931 and was named, “Alam Ara”. The films produced in the 1930s in Bollywood were used to raise awareness to what filmmakers saw as the social ills of the day. By this time, the industry was booming. Several well-known filmmakers and producers from all over India were producing films with dialogue in most of India’s diverse language groups. The first color film, “Kisan Kanya”, was released during this time.

World War II and Indian independence from Britain did nothing to slow down India’s film industry. The industry in India was fast becoming known as India’s obsession. Post independence Indian cinema gained a wide recognition. The creation of the Film and Television Institute of India, FTII, a national cinema awards show, and India’s first International Film Festival rocketed Bollywood to the world stage.

Kisan Kanya
Indian filmmakers widely expanded movie genres from the 1960s through the 1990s to include action films, thrillers, musicals, and love stories. Currently, many new Indian directors are gaining world prominence with movies such as “Dil Chahta Hai” and “Bheja Fry”.