Bollywood 101

The faculties from Whistling Woods International (WWI) have given us the interesting lectures for the first four days of the class. I have watched Indian films since elementary school and I believed I know many things about Bollywood. However, after the lectures, I have realized that I have misunderstood a lot of information about Bollywood and I have learned many new facts about Indian films. The most memorable lecture was the difference between Hollywood and Bollywood.

There are many differences between Hollywood and Bollywood because their origin of storytelling is not the same. The story of Hollywood films originated from Greek’s Aristotle whereas that of Bollywood films developed from Indian narrations called Ramayana and Mahabharat. Ramayana is an epic about God and Mahabharat is about cousins fighting over land. They are the root of Indian films and still dominate the storyline of Bollywood movies.

I used to wonder why an Indian film has a variety of stories during the film while an American film has a specific storyline. During the lecture, I have known the fact that Bollywood films are based on multi genres. This is because Bollywood industry believes successful films include strong storyline that evokes all emotions. As a consequence, Indian films have various stories in one film that arouses different types of emotions.

Furthermore, according to Som, a faculty from WWI, realistic narrative is frequent in Hollywood films because the films strive to conceal the constructed nature of their work. On the other hand, Indian films do not attempt to conceal the fact that what is shown on the screen is a creation, illusion and fiction. For that reason, Bollywood considers the movie as a continuum of time and space.

In contrast to these differences, Bollywood and Hollywood has a similarity that audiences support their film industries. Som told us that government supports the film industry in other countries like Europe. This is reason why Bollywood and Hollywood are considered as the two biggest film industries in the world. Despite the popularity of Indian film in the world, producers from Bollywood are concerned about the low penetration of their films. It means that Bollywood films have high value while they are low in volume. This is because of the low price of film ticket that is about twenty cents.

Lastly, when Som said that sexual and violent content is restricted in Bollywood, I thought it was because India is politically conservative. However, it was not necessarily true. The absence of vulgar content is because of a family-centered culture in India. Watching movie is a family event in India, so Bollywood producers tend to exclude vulgar scenes that families may feel uncomfortable when they are watching movies all together. The family-centered culture also explains why most Indian films includes a scene of families celebrating the party no matter what genre of movie it is.

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