The Indian cinema scene, Bollywood, recently celebrated its 100th birthday and has shown no sign of slowing up as it progresses into its second century. We’ve already seen top actors and actresses strutting their stuff on the big screens and some blockbuster films that have broken all kinds of records in the industry.
Going to the cinema is a way of life for the Indian public who see Bollywood as a “second religion” on a par with cricket, with thousands going to showings of the latest films each week. The thing is, the industry is still somewhat specialised to the Asian public with very few movies, actors and actresses becoming equally large outside their home countries and taking America or Europe, for example, by storm.
One of the reasons for that is that many of the Bollywood films in history have been adaptations of western films tailored for the Indian audience and western film lovers adopt the “seen it” stance and take no notice. This means that very few people know anything at all about Bollywood other than the fact that it comes from India. Sure, they might have caught a movie or two on ErosNow.com – an online streaming site – but many won’t have gone to the cinema to specifically watch a Bollywood movie when they have Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in their latest action roles.
In an attempt to expand some horizons and encourage people to learn a bit more about Indian cinema and life in general, here are ten amazing facts to have come out of the industry in the past 100 years or so.
- The first ever film to come out of Bollywood (as it was to become) was called ‘Raja Harishchandra’; a silent, black and white movie released in 1913.
- The term Bollywood came from a combination of the ‘home’ of Indian cinema – Bombay (now Mumbai) – and its inspiration, Hollywood, as a result of the industry surpassing the Americans as the world’s largest film producer.
- ‘Alam Ara’ was the first Indian movie to be screened with sound – but not until 1931.
- The first movie produced in colour came six years later in 1937 with the release of ‘Kisan Kanya’.
- ‘Neecha Nagar’ was the first film from India to receive worldwide recognition, winning the Best Film award at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival.
- There are 71 different songs in the film ‘Indra Sabha’.
- Baz Lurhman, the world renowned producer, said that his musical Moulin Rouge was influenced by Indian cinema and their musical nature.
- It’s estimated that the industry releases around 1,000 films every year.
- Salman Khan is predicted to be the best paid actor in Indian cinema, earning an estimated £7 million in 2013 for just one film (although nobody has revealed which).
- he billboards promoting new movies around India used to be painted on by local artists.