Bollywood Turns 100

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We are also celebrating an anniversary in India. Bollywood celebrated its 100th birthday earlier this month. You probably know Bollywood films. The actors usually speak Hindi, and the movies often include a lot of singing and dancing. Many tell dramatic stories. But Bollywood is now developing new kinds of cinema. Christopher Cruise explains.

Ekta Kapoor is having a special day. She is getting ready to watch a new Bollywood movie, called Bombay Talkies. The movie celebrates 100 years of Bollywood. She says she can’t think of life without Bollywood.

Bollywood is India’s main movie industry. And that is saying something because India produces more than 1,000 movies and sells three billion movie tickets each year.

Bollywood began a century ago with a black and white film. It told a story about a king from Hindu mythology.

Today, Bollywood is known for its singing and dancing. The movies often tell similar stories. Many times, they are romantic stories that have a happy ending.

Anupama Chopra is a film critic in Mumbai.

“It is the sort of family values, the song and dance, the stars, the kind of un-ironical optimism, it is all very cheerful and it is very sort of sweetly optimistic and I think that that is something that travels very well.”

Anupama Chopra adds that Bollywood’s image is changing slowly. New stories are replacing more traditional ones. And a different generation of filmmakers is making a difference.

The new filmmakers are directors like Dibakar Banerjee, who tells one of the stories in Bombay Talkies.

Mr. Banerjee says Bollywood has space for new ideas. But he says it is not going to be easy to make a lot of untraditional films. Mr. Banerjee explains that rich or middle class people are the main reason for Bollywood’s success. He says new films increasingly challenge the old social order—and some audiences might not like the change.

But Bollywood films are popular not just in India. People in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia also love them. Dibakar Banerjee explains why people across Asia often connect with Bollywood movies. He says:

“The concerns of the average Indian people were the concerns of these people, which was one of the preservation of family, the preservation of tradition, a certain way of life, under the fearsome assault of Western values. These films told us, we are all right, we are all there.”

Movies are likely to remain popular in India -- even more popular than entertainment channels on television. The government has created measures to make it easier to raise money for film production. And, India has permitted foreign film studios, such as America’s Warner Brothers, to invest in the country.

But film critic Anupama Chopra says it is mainly the Indian love for movies that ensures the industry’s future.

“My longstanding belief is that films are a religion in this country. This is sort of the second golden age of Bollywood.”

People like Ekta Kapoor hope that the movie industry will continue to grow in India. They want Bollywood to try new ideas, but never lose its glamor.

I’m Christopher Cruise.

And I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.


-from VOA Learning English