So what’s a Bollywood movie? Contrary to popular belief, any movie that has Indian actors/is set in India/is related in any way to India is not automatically classified as a Bollywood movie. Which means that Slumdog Millionaire, despite being a great, widely acclaimed film and featuring Indian actors and being set in India, is not a Bollywood movie (because it was directed by a British man and is a British film). Same goes for Life of Pi (which was directed by a Chinese man).
Okay, so what is Bollywood, then? It’s basically the Hollywood of India, but instead of an ‘H’ it starts with a ‘B’, after the city it originates from, Bombay (now known as Mumbai, but “Mollywood” just isn’t as catchy). In fact, it’s a lot more successful than Hollywood, since it produces over 800 films every single year, more than half of the number Hollywood makes. But Bollywood doesn’t account for every single movie made in India, like many people believe. Bollywood is just the filmmaking industry that makes movies in Hindi (sometimes with a mix of English). As Hindi is not the only language spoken in India, there are other industries as well that are using other languages, like Tamil (called “Tollywood,” I’m not even kidding). Bollywood is just the most widely known one because it comes from Mumbai (Bombay), which is India’s entertainment capital, as well as its wealthiest and most populous city. Bollywood is just as old as Hollywood, tracing its roots from the early 1900s, the era of silent films.
Today, Bollywood is one of the biggest filmmaking industries in the world, as mentioned earlier, and it is so well loved, even though most movies follow a similar formula, called masala (a Hindi word for a spice mixture). This means that these movies are a mixture of boy-meets-girl romance (and all other possible romantic clichés you can think of), comedic dialogue, action-packed scenes, dozens of musical numbers, the country’s biggest actors, and of course, a happy ending. There are some films that have stories that deviate from the norm, though they are not as popular. But, for certain, all Bollywood movies provide three to four hours of escape from real life to everyone who watches them.