Bollywood (also known as Hindi Cinema), the Indian film industry, takes its name by combining the ‘B’ in Bombay with the rest of Hollywood, minus the ‘H’. It is a massive business – the largest in the world… even topping the American movie trade in the 1970’s – that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013. The industry produces approximately 1,000 films each year, which are available in more than 90 countries and results in a viewership of three billion people. Those are some staggering numbers, so let’s learn a little more about the phenomenon:
The first Bollywood film was ‘Raja Harishchandra,’ which was a silent film released in 1913. The movie premiered in Bombay’s Coronation Cinema and included men playing any female roles. Nearly 20 years later, the first Indian film with sound, ‘Alam Ara,’ hit theatres. A few years after that, the first Bollywood film with colour, ‘Kisan Kanya,’ opened to audiences. It’s hard to imagine Indian films being anything but filled with vibrant colours and singing and dancing numbers.
Speaking of those types of movies, Bollywood’s first musicals were released in the 1930’s and drew inspiration from Hollywood’s 1920’s musical efforts. These Hindi releases included ‘Indra Sabha’ and ‘Devi Devyani,’among others. The Golden Age of Indian Cinema followed, occurring between 1940 and 1960, with many films targeting the social issues of the time in the country. As the 1960’s came, romance and action movies became popular within the Bollywood industry and in the 1970’s the gangster flick took over at the box office.
In 1946, the movie ‘Neecha Nagar’ (aka Lowly City) won the Best Film Award at the inaugural Cannes Film Festival and went on the gain recognition around the world. The film looks at the divide between the upper and lower classes and features Ravi Shankar as its music director. More success for Bollywood films at the Cannes Film Festival came in 1988, when ‘Salaam Bombay’ won the Golden Camera and Audience Awards. It was later nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
The most songs featured in any Bollywood film was a whopping 71 in ‘Indra Sabha.’ I can barely get through a beloved Disney film without jabbing a Q-tip into my ears, so this would certainly be an excruciating experience for the Sip Advisor! The longest song in Bollywood film history is ‘Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyon’ (try saying that three times fast… you’re not allowed to play if you’re Indian!). The number appears in the film of the same name.
Themes typically found in Bollywood films include ill-fated lovers, disappointed parents, family issues, corruption, and crime, as the movies blend singing and dancing, romance, comedy, and action. While older Hindi films featured pre-arranged marriages, modern Bollywood movies have incorporated Westernized relationship ideals and practices.
While many Hollywood productions can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to create, the most expensive Bollywood release ever filmed was 2011’s ‘Ra One,’ which cost $27 million. Similarly, while a number of Hollywood releases can be credited with raking in piles of cash, the 2009 comedy ‘3 Idiots’ (which the Sip Advisor somehow did not receive a role in) is the greatest earner in Bollywood history, taking in a mere $71 million worldwide.
It may not be the Academy Awards, but for Hindi films, the Filmfare Awards provide the Bollywoood industry its brightest night to shine. The most prestigious award one can gain for a lifetime of contributions to the Indian movie business is the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, which is handed out by the country’s government each year.
Many Bollywood films surpass the 3-hour running time and include an intermission. Personally I wouldn’t mind if this was adopted for longer North American films, as who doesn’t thirst for the chance to hit a washroom during some of these epics! The longest Bollywood movie is ‘LOC L Kargil,’which clocks in at a whopping 4 hours and 25 minutes.
While Hollywood has its Walk of Fame, Mumbai has countered with its own Walk of the Stars. Also, in India, folks can enjoy Bollywood tours, which include visits to film sets, as well as checking out the homes of celebrities, much like the tours of stars’ mansions offered by unscrupulous Hollywood guides.
It’s estimated that 14 million Indians attend movie theatres each day. That said, the Bollywood film industry suffers losses of about $100 million per year due to pirated content. Interestingly, Hindi film soundtracks are often more popular than their movie counterpart and are released prior to the film to help draw viewers in.
According to director Baz Luhrmann, his popular musical ‘Moulin Rouge’ was inspired by Bollywood films. Now I know who to blame for all the times Mrs. Sip insists I watched this tripe again. Thanks, India!
And finally, director Yash Chopra has been given the title of ‘Godfather of Romance,’ although that thief stole the moniker from me. Just ask Mrs. Sip and she’ll back me up… at least she better, for fear of losing me as her personal sandwich artist. Drink time!
India: Prince Charming
- 1 oz Royal Challenge Whiskey
- 1 oz Cognac
- Splash of Lime Juice
- Garnish with a Lime Wedge
I feel like I should watch a Bollywood movie while enjoying today’s cocktail… perhaps I’ll just throw on the gripping Slumdog Millionaire and pretend it’s a Hindi movie!
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was nice and smooth, despite being booze heavy and with not much mixer going into the recipe. It all went down easy thanks to its small serving. Of course, this was my first time trying Royal Challenge Whiskey and I’m still trying to figure out it’s quality. I think I’ll have to have a snifter of it straight up, as the Cognac may have helped a lot here.