What is Bollywood?

Bollywood refers to the name of the Hindi language film industry, based primarily in Mumbai, which is situated in Maharashtra, the second most populous state in India. The name Bollywood is often wrongly used to refer to Indian cinema as a whole which is incorrect because there are many films produced in India in other languages and in other parts of the country, that are not Bollywood films.

Such examples of these types of film are Tamil cinema and Telugu cinema, which represent 36% of annual next box office revenue. In comparison, Bollywood accounts for 43% of net box office revenue, which shows just how big and successful Bollywood is.

Bollywood takes the crown for being one of the largest centres of film production in the world and produces a staggering 1,041 films a year.

The name Bollywood is derived from Bombay (the former capital of Mumbai) and Hollywood (The American film industry). However unlike Hollywood which is primarily based in California, Bollywood is much more spread out.

In 1913 the first silent ‘Bollywood’ film was produced called Raja Harishchandra by 1930 over 200 films were being produced, most of which were unabashedly escapist and musicals, romance and action are the main types of film produced. Today Hindi films are distributed across 22 of India’s 29 states and filmmakers have continued to make the aforementioned popular types of films so that this widespread distribution can continue and box office revenue can continue to be maximised.

Bollywood is the smaller and less successful sister of Hollywood, right?

In a word, no. A lot of people hate the name Bollywood because they think it makes it look like a rip-off of Hollywood.

In actual fact Bollywood is arguable more successful than Hollywood because it is classified as the biggest film industry in the world because it produces far more films and employs far more people. As an example, in 2011, over 3.5 billion tickets were sold across the globe, compared with 3.4 billion for Hollywood films. Bollywood produces a staggering 1,041 films a year compared with less than 500 films that Hollywood produces annually.

However, in fairness, given that Hollywood produces half the number of films a year that Bollywood does, it is the more successful film industry in relative terms.

Bollywood films are all just remakes of Hollywood films.

There have been a lot of Bollywood remakes of Hollywood films over the years, but Bollywood does create plenty of original content as well.

Bollywood tends to remake popular Hollywood action films, romantic comedies or musicals that are likely to translate well for an Indian audience. However, given that Bollywood produces double the number of films a year there are many more original Bollywood films a year than remakes.