Film Industry • Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry • Based in Mumbai • Bollywood is the largest film producer in India and one of the largest centers of film production in the world
Film Industry • Bollywood is formally referred to as Hindi cinema • There has been a growing presence of Indian English in dialogue and songs as well • It is common to see films that feature dialogue with English worlds, phrases, and whole sentences
Golden Age • The name “Bollywood” is derived from Bombay (the former name for Mumbai) and Hollywood • The term Bollywood has origins in the 1970’s when India overtook America as the world’s largest film producer • The time period of 1940-1960 is regarded by film historians as the “Golden Age” of Hindi cinema • Films expressed social themes mainly dealing with workingclass urban life in India
Modern Cinema • 1960-1970: romance, action, and violent films about gangsters became popular • 1980-1990: family-centric romantic musicals, comedy films • 2000: growth in Bollywood’s popularity in the world, brought filmmaking to new heights in terms of quality, cinematography, and innovative story lines
Influences for Bollywood • Ancient Indian epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana have had profound influence on the thought and imagination of Indian popular cinema • Ancient Sanskrit dramas with its highly stylized nature and emphasis on spectacle combining music and dance have greatly influenced Indian cinema • The theory of rasa dating back to ancient Sanskrit drama is believed to be one of the most fundamental features of Hindi cinema
Bollywood’s Influence on American Cinema • Bollywood began influencing musical films in the Western world during the 2000’s and played an Instrumental role in reviving the American musical film genre • Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge was directly inspried by Bollywood musicals. The film incorporated an Indian-themed play based on the ancient Sanskrit drama The Little Clay Cart with a bollywood type dance number
• After the success of Moulin Rouge films such as Chicago, The Producers, Rent, Dramgirls, Hairspray, Sweeney Todd, Across the Universe, Enchanted and Mamma Mia were produced
Genre Conventions • Bollywood films are mostly musicals, and are expected to contain catchy music in the form of song and dance numbers • A films success depends on the quality of the musical numbers
• Bollywood plots tend to be melodramatic • Bollywood plays a major role in the fashion of India • Often the filmmakers hire professional singers and the actors lip-sync while dancing
Bollywood Dance • The unbroken tradition of linking theatre, music, and dance is traceable all the way back to the Natya Shastra (circa 2nd century BCE.) • The dancing in older Bollywood films was primarily modeled on classical Indian dance styles • In modern Bollywood films Indian dance elements are combined with Western dance elements such as jazz, hip hop and modern • The hero or heroine will often perform with a troupe of supporting dancers • Many song and dance numbers feature unrealistically instantaneous shifts of location or changes of costume between versus of a song
Bollywood Dance • Numbers are often staged in natural surroundings or architecturally grand settings. This staging is referred to as “picturisation”. • Sometimes a song and dance is worked into the plot, so that a character has a reason to sing. Other times the numbers are an externalization of the character’s thoughts or events that have not occurred yet in the plot of the movie and are a dream sequence.
• Song and dance scenes used to be shot in Kashmir but due to political unrest scenes are now often shot in Switzerland and Austria. • Bollywood films use what is referred to as an “item number” where an attractive female, often unrelated to the main cast and plot, performs a catchy song and dance number in the film.
Bollywood Dance • In modern films, item numbers may be inserted as discotheque sequences, dancing at celebrations, or as stage shows. • For the last few decades Bollywood producers have been releasing the film’s soundtrack, as tapes or CD’s before the main movie release hoping to draw in audiences. • Music videos have are also released featuring a song and dance from the film.
• Lyrics of the songs often include poetry about the love story of Krishan, Radha, and the gopis. Many lyrics compare the singer to a devotee and the object of his or her passion to Krishna or Radha
Costumes • Clothing and costume are an extremely important element of Bollywood dance. To a very great extent it will determine the "feel" that the dance will have in the film.
Eroticism and Bollywood Dance •
It was clear that an element of eroticism was required for commercial success; however the puritanical nature of Indian society would not tolerate the heroine behaving in any immodest way.
Three formulas developed in order to fulfill this requirement, these were the rape scene, attempted seduction, and the item number.
The rape scene has fallen out of fashion, but from the late 1950s through the 1970's it was an essential element for any Bollywood film and was used to establish a villain.
In a seduction scene, the vamp, would attempt to seduce the hero by way of her song and dance. The hero would not succumb to the charms of this vamp, thus allowing him to marry the heroine. This approach was especially convenient for producers because they could introduce as much eroticism as the censors would allow, yet the hero's rejection of the seductress would always be considered a testament to the powers of traditional Indian values.
The artistic high point in the delivery of eroticism in Bollywood films was the development of the "item number". A secondary girl (known as the "item girl") who is able to act, sing and dance in an erotic manner, is brought in often for only one piece. This introduces the erotic element, yet maintains the heroine's modesty.
Eroticism and Bollywood Dance • The cabaret scene is probably the most significant artistic and commercial example of the Bollywood dance. It may be considered to be the first truly 'Bollywood" form. Where previous item numbers might have utilized traditional dances, the cabaret dance was unique to the cinema. • Although it is truly Indian, it does draw upon pre-existing elements, many of which were drawn from Western "modern" dance forms of the 1960's.
Eroticism and Bollywood Dance • The most famous item girl is Helen Jairag Richardson, of mixed Anglo-Indian-Burmese descent. She started dancing and acting in the 1950s, and by the 1960s was the undisputed queen of the item girls.
Eroticism and Bollywood Dance • By the 1970s, item numbers were going to the younger girls. By the 1980's the downplaying of the item girl from the standard formula, along with Helen's age, put her career on the rocks. • Today her career has begun to turn around as she is making the transition from "item" roles to elderly "mother / mother-in-law" roles.
Eroticism and Bollywood Dance • The more relaxed attitude toward eroticism in modern films has led to cinematographers not having to rely upon a secondary item girl in order to maintain the heroin's modesty. • Modern audiences seem comfortable with the heroine dancing very suggestively, where previous generations would have considered this to be scandalous.