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Hindi cinema
January 27, 2007 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Bollywood Dreams. Bollywood in a nutshell: Bollywood is the name given to the Bombay (Mumbai)-based Hindi-language film industry in India. Bollywood films are colorful, crammed with singing, dancing, loads of costume changes. In the past there were often absurd and hilarious take-offs on Western films or superstars, such as the Beatles, Michael Jackson , Elvis,70's music and hair styles. Spectacular collection of Bollywood posters and vintage original poster art for sale and t-shirts. Stats and faqs. The history of Bollywood, brief chronology [pdf]. The main actors, images. The main actresses, images. Some of the renowned songs and the singers who sang them. Bollywood song lyrics and audio at the excellent Music India Online. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye (74 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Commision your own Bollywood poster from the wonderful Limona Studio.

Mini glossary. Bollywood crossing over.

Excellent Bollywood classics blog.

A fun Bollywood blog, beats, ballads and bombs.

A recent Bollywood smash hit from the movie, Bluffmaster, Right Here Right Now.

Aishwarya Rai, present queen of Bollywood.

Bollywood legend dolls.

Kollywood. Tollywood. Lollywood sleaze poster art. Mini videos of Lollywood deep kitsch juicy bits.

Previously on MetaFilter.
posted by nickyskye at 1:14 PM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Previously on MetaFilter.

A piece of MeFi history we shouldn't forget.
posted by gleuschk at 1:29 PM on January 27, 2007


Incidentally, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan was presented today with with the Légion d'honneur.
posted by Kattullus at 1:29 PM on January 27, 2007


Some Bollywood recommendations.
posted by Gyan at 1:41 PM on January 27, 2007


Bombay (Mumbai).

Is like writing Clay(Ali), or Burma(Myranmar), Saigon(Ho Chi Minh City), etc.
posted by three blind mice at 1:43 PM on January 27, 2007


Well, no one except certain natives care about the new name.
posted by Gyan at 1:48 PM on January 27, 2007


Wow, this is such a thorough and interesting post!... I am loving the Bollywood Beatles... lol
posted by amyms at 1:49 PM on January 27, 2007


Not when you're explaining the Bo in Bollywood.

And most decent folks still call it Burma.
posted by the cuban at 1:50 PM on January 27, 2007


Bollywood for the Skeptical.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:52 PM on January 27, 2007


Thanks! I've always found Bollywood films to be a great deal of fun. A question: Is there a practical reason that the audio always seems to be overdriven, you know, like it was recorded using the Spinal Tap "11" setting?
posted by SteveInMaine at 2:11 PM on January 27, 2007


Excellent post!
posted by languagehat at 2:16 PM on January 27, 2007


holy crap i want this for my kid
posted by phaedon at 2:22 PM on January 27, 2007


Is like writing Clay(Ali), or Burma(Myranmar), Saigon(Ho Chi Minh City), etc.

So, 3BM, are you suggesting we call it Mummywood? Or Mumbbywood?
posted by DenOfSizer at 2:22 PM on January 27, 2007


There used to be an "international channel" that would sometimes play music videos from India, many of which were lifted from the musical parts of Indian cinema. It was a nice way to be exposed to the genre without spending time or money.
posted by Iron Rat at 2:40 PM on January 27, 2007


Can anyone shed some light on that Thriller clip that's made the rounds? Was it intended as parody?
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 2:46 PM on January 27, 2007


Everyone needs a brimful of Asha Bhosle.
posted by grabbingsand at 2:56 PM on January 27, 2007


A few more great videos:

Eena Meena Deeka
Jaan Pehechan Ho
posted by mike3k at 3:11 PM on January 27, 2007


Bollywood is starting to influence American cinema, e.g. Enid dancing to "Jaan Pehechan Ho" in Ghost World, the Indian touches in the Reese Witherspoon version of Vanity Fair, and Bride and Prejudice.

And for the hell of it, Steve Carrell singing The Diwali Song.
posted by dw at 3:58 PM on January 27, 2007


three blind mice: Why do you want to follow the dictates of the vicious thugs who rule Burma? You realize they're the only ones who support their name change, right? And Aung San Suu Kyi refers to it as Burma?
posted by languagehat at 4:08 PM on January 27, 2007


Hooray for plagarism!
posted by herc at 4:48 PM on January 27, 2007


The diwali song is very cool.
posted by Methylviolet at 5:04 PM on January 27, 2007


The Learn Hindi From Bollywood Movies podcast is slightly educational and very funny.
posted by rajbot at 5:09 PM on January 27, 2007


You probably know it as Myanmar Mumbai, but it'll always be Burma Bombay to me.
posted by papakwanz at 5:09 PM on January 27, 2007


Tumse Hai Dil Ko Ted Lyons : Steve Martin :: Jaan Pehechan Ho Ted Lyons : Cab Calloway.
posted by Opposite George at 5:18 PM on January 27, 2007


Bollywood movies rule almost as much as nickyskye's posts. Which is to say, a lot.

And I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much I enjoyed Bride and Prejudice.

Oh and because I'm a complete bastard, here is Daler Mehndi's Tunak. A song so catchy it will burn your soul.
posted by quin at 5:34 PM on January 27, 2007


grabbingsand: Ah, I never knew that Brimful of Asha was about Asha Boshle. Great, now I feel a lot worse about my version of the song, Brimful of Penis. Here's an explanation of the song from Kuro5hin (incidentally, anybody remember the rivalry between MetaFilter and Kuro5hin? Anyone? The April 1st merger gag? No one? Don't make feel all old now).
posted by Kattullus at 5:39 PM on January 27, 2007


This is a fun one, too.
posted by clockzero at 5:52 PM on January 27, 2007


I did a summary of the classics from Bollywood here
posted by infini at 6:33 PM on January 27, 2007


Nobody forget the wedding of the century, coming up in March (?): Aishwarya Rai & Abhishek Bachchan (son of the big B).

Also, Shashi Tharoor's satirical novel *Show Business* is well worth a read if you are interested in Bollywood. Kinda strange, as well, to think that it was written by a high-ranking diplomat, who was angling for UN sec-gen...
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:54 PM on January 27, 2007


I remember watching movies that were directly ripped off from Western movies, and it used to annoy me to no end when I was a kid. At times, they would literally splice in clips from American movies (mainly of car chase/explosion scenes). Now, of course, it's a statistical matter -- they make so many movies that plagiarism is just more likely.

Can anyone shed some light on that Thriller clip that's made the rounds? Was it intended as parody?

Unlikely. My guess is that the goal of mimickry was to make Western culture more accessible (and to make an easy buck), and unfortunately often came off pretty ridiculously.
posted by spiderskull at 7:04 PM on January 27, 2007


This is a fun one, too.
Tumse Hai Dil Ko Ted Lyons : Steve Martin :: Solla Solla Enna Peruamai Hippie : Dick Shawn.
posted by Opposite George at 7:29 PM on January 27, 2007


That Beatles link is a stitch!

Thanks, nickyskye.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:33 PM on January 27, 2007


god bless you for this. ever since i heard chaiya chaiya on the inside man soundtrack, I've been looking for ways to find and listen to new bollywood stuff.
posted by tylerfulltilt at 7:36 PM on January 27, 2007


Thank you nickyskye.
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:36 PM on January 27, 2007


Though Solla Solla Enna Perumai is not, apparently, from a Bollywood movie.
posted by Opposite George at 7:40 PM on January 27, 2007


(^^^ 3 comments back)
posted by Opposite George at 7:41 PM on January 27, 2007


I used to have a collection of Mehndi's concert videos I lost during a drive crash. One set from one concert had a completely drop dead gorgeous, incredibly edible Indian woman Daler danced around and serenaded. (sigh)

I've promised myself one of his concerts one of these days...
posted by Samizdata at 7:56 PM on January 27, 2007


my guess is these posters become as chic as the ubiquitious Martini&Rosso, Le Chat Noir, and Cinzano.
posted by CeruleanZero at 8:15 PM on January 27, 2007


Bombay Connection, a record label out of the Netherlands, recently released the first two discs of a six disc series of classic Bollywood film music from the '50s onward.
posted by Sidthecat at 8:21 PM on January 27, 2007


Oh and because I'm a complete bastard, here is Daler Mehndi's Tunak. A song so catchy it will burn your soul.

WHO LET THE SIKHS OUT? DEV! DEV! DAS DAS!

I'm never getting a cab from Sea-Tac ever again.
posted by dw at 8:35 PM on January 27, 2007


Amazing post nickyskye!
You rock!

Incidentally, Slaam-e-Ishq (which is a rip-off of All about Love) has been released here, and now I’ll have to go and see it for you.:)

And if people are interested in seeing Bollywood movies, then be sure to try out some of these:

Pyaasa
Mother India
Sholay (which is soon to be remade)
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
Rangeela (songs here, if they work)

Or anything by Satyajit Ray

PS. Saw Do Aankhen Barah Haath recently as well, and HIGHLY recommend it.
posted by hadjiboy at 8:52 PM on January 27, 2007


Some more names which pop up—Mira Nair and Deepa Mehta of course, who’s Water, Earth and Fire trilogy come to mind. And Gurinder Chadda, who filmed the Bend it like Beckham flick.
posted by hadjiboy at 8:58 PM on January 27, 2007


PPS. Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen, and Mani Ratnam’s Bombay.
posted by hadjiboy at 9:06 PM on January 27, 2007


Huh...so it isn't, OG.
posted by clockzero at 10:55 PM on January 27, 2007


Subtitling your own Bollywood movie is a lot of fun.
posted by Abiezer at 12:34 AM on January 28, 2007


nitpick: Daler Mehndi, Satyajit Ray, Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta et al are not really Bollywood.

I love the idea of subtitling your own movie. You can have an uproarious time also by doing your own voice-overs to unsubtitled movies from your local Indian spice shop cum bootleg DVD shop. For best results, Bagpiper Gold or similar skanky whisky is advised.

Speaking of DIY entertainment, my life is now complete: I can now sing the scandalous Choli ke peeche kya hai? (what's behind the blouse?) in karaoke style!

(goddamn, it's hard to find decent Bollywood links sometimes...people not familiar with the story around the song should google it for themselves)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:51 AM on January 28, 2007


Lots of wonderful in this post. Thank you nickyskye.
posted by tellurian at 4:18 AM on January 28, 2007


I still sneak peaks of those videos on YouTube, choli ke peeche is a favourite because I still remember going to see the movie when it first came out in the cinema hall in New Delhi and the subsequent uproar over it. It changed "songs" in Hindi movies for ever, whether for good or not is another question altogether.
posted by infini at 7:06 AM on January 28, 2007


And then Govinda and Karishma just made it worse.
posted by infini at 7:07 AM on January 28, 2007


UbuRoivas, I know it's not authoritative, but wikipedia disagrees with you on Daler Mehndi not being a Bollywood actor.
posted by quin at 9:20 AM on January 28, 2007


Thanks all for the delightful additional links!

Bollywood, like Hollywood, is such a vast, juicy topic that a single post can hardly do it justice but I hoped to do an overview for those who weren't familiar with the subject, might be entertained or want links for the music, posters or videos.

I should have provided a more information about the first link of my post, "Bollywood Dreams", which is a wonderful photo-essay by the Israeli photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik.

To add to quin's blessing/curse, here's another catchy song and likeable video of Chaiyya Chaiyya, filmed incredibly on top of the Nilgiri Blue Mountain Train going through a particularly pretty part of South India, called Ootacamund (nicknamed Ooty).

And now that UbuRoivas got me curious about the scandalous Choli ke peeche kya hai? (what's behind the blouse?), I had to watch the video.

Finally, a nicely organised index of Bollywood music videos on YouTube.
posted by nickyskye at 3:40 PM on January 28, 2007


thanks for the index, nicky!!
posted by infini at 6:29 PM on January 28, 2007


quin: yeh, I kinda assumed that Daler had appeared in at least a film or two (wiki not working here) but isn't he primarily a bhangra artist? Calling him a Bollywood actor is not unlike referring to Madonna as a Hollywood actress. Technicially, it's kinda true, but...

Anyway, one more quick plug: pardesi pardesi from the movie Raja Hindustani. This song is still being played all over the country, ten or so years on...

heh heh: Genre: Drama / Romance / Musical / Comedy / Action (more)
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:54 PM on January 28, 2007


uburoivas, yaar, dil kyu todh rahaa hai aise gaane laga ke?
posted by infini at 7:59 PM on January 28, 2007


the Chaiyya chaiyya link you've given, nicky, seems to take us elswhere.
posted by infini at 8:19 PM on January 28, 2007


*oops. thanks for the heads up infini. The correct link for Chaiyya Chaiyya is here.
posted by nickyskye at 9:26 PM on January 28, 2007


Excellent post Nicky, and thanks to everyone else too for all the other links. I've been trying to learn and watch more Bollywood for a while now, and this will definitely help me out.

One question: I've noticed that all the Bollywood movies I've seen tend to be long, at the very least two hours, more often closer to three. Is there any reason that this became the "standard" length? It's something I've been curious about.
posted by wander at 9:44 PM on January 28, 2007


You try keeping a movie to under two hours when it has ten musical scenes. They become music videos in their own right and are a big drawcard for audiences (western and eastern alike).
posted by liquorice at 12:43 AM on January 29, 2007


infini: transliteration into the roman alphabet is fraught with difficulties - i'm afraid that i could only recognise dil, hai and ke. please to be reposting in devanagari only.

wander: my guess is that it is to give the viewers a sense of value-for-money. it's not everyday that the average person gets to watch a movie. you may notice that comedy monologues and dramatic soliloquays can drag on for about fifteen minutes beyond the maximum imaginable length for a western movie. these, and the musical numbers, seem to make up most of the padding.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:00 AM on January 29, 2007


I was told by a close friend who introduced me to the real value of the hindi film to the local indian is that daily life is so stressful that to slip away into apleasant fantasy filled with songs, dances, international scenry, pretty girls and drama were the best release of tension at the end of a hard day's work for most of the working classes.

That's why the popularity of Amitabh Bachchan's angry young man from the slums, feeling powerless and helpless against the powers that be or even, the Coolie where even a humble coolie could dream of marrying a fair beauty and love. All for Rupees 6 in the front row seats where the "front benchers" sit.

imho
posted by infini at 3:34 AM on January 29, 2007


ubiroivas: What infini really meant was, "yár, dil kyún' tód' rahá hai aisé gáné lagá ké? " Which is to say, friend, why you breaking his/her heart by putting songs like this?

Hey everybody, look, I'm a vyákaraña nazi!

On a serious note, infini, while that wish fulfillment thing was, perhaps true in 1970's populist cinema, surely you'll agree that contemporary Bollywood cinema no longer includes the front-benchers in its cross-hairs? I've always wondered how yer stereotyped front-bencher at Jhumritalayya, Jharkhand would take to, for example, bike pr0n in Dhoom or diasporic super-hero-giri in Krrish.

The answer: he probably doesn't. The split has already started; Bhojpuri cinema now rules the hinterland. Bhojpuri, I understand, is increasingly being considered as a language in itself, and not a Hindi dialect. In fact, Wikipedia calls it the only Indian-originated language to be spoken on all continents.

All this, of course, if we're talking Hindi-language cinema alone. Every language-industry has its own tradition and form its own individual sub-cultures; having once sat through a toddy-shop discussion (you read that right! The toddy shop at Kalamasserry bus-stop in Cochin's suburbs, if anyone's interested) on the post-modernist tendencies in Adoor Gopalakrishnan's movies, I've come to the conclusion that the goal of different intra-Indian cinema is entirely different.

Here's how I'd see it:

Hindi cinema wants to make money by any means. So it goes behind the audience with the largest wallet, the ex-pat ones.

Tamizh cinema makes money by default anyway, so it tries putting some cynical social commentary in as well. (Which confuses the ex-pat audiences quite a bit; the majority of Tamizh audiences here in South East Asia hasn't really been to India, and presume that whatever they see in movies is how India is.)

Telugu cinema just started making money again very recently, so it's still re-discovering itself. Mainly, it's sticking itself to the 18-24-year ( engineering) college-going audience, who, with IT and malls and all that, has suddenly seen a resurgent interest in their lifestyle, post-adolescent teen angst, generational gaps and lots lots more.

Bengali cinema is living off its past glory and is a waiting its next Satyajit Ray.

Punjabi cinema has decided to focus itself on making bhangra videos.

Marathi cinema is still perturbed by the fact that no one realises Bombay has two cinema industries, and that, in terms of returns, it is the more popular one.

Kannada cinema is trying to find its niche, but is still bothered by the fact that the majority of Bangalore doesn't speak Kannada anymore. That, and the fact that most of Majestic Circle's old cinemas have now become malls, and the ones that haven't, show Tamizh, Telugu and Hindi movies.

Indian-English cinema (YES, it exists!) is still bothered by the fact that it either tends to devolve itself into a cinematic extension of public-school drama and thus superficial, or if it doesn't, it focuses on a very small sub-sect of the Indian movie-going populace. Or, in the unlikely event that it does neither, it'll get bastard-ized into including a lot of Hindi; consider how characters in Corporate or Page Three spoke chaste Mumbaiyya Hindi for most of the movies' length.

Malayalam cinema gets its due share of blockbusters every year, but its main role is in exporting cinema. Want to check out Malayalam movies, but don't speak the language? Fret not; your current blockbuster in Tamizh, Telugu or Kannada is most certainly a Malayalam rip-off.

A word on Burmese cinema as well. My "official" travel agent (I always buy tickets from this guy in this old mall downtown) is based in the local Burmese hangout area, and, trust me when I say this, but you squint hard enough, you can actually presume that all those Burmese film posters are actually Indian. That the script is very similar to the Telugu and Kannada scripts only helps the case.

In fact, I once happened to watch a Burmese rip-off of this 1970's Rishi Kapoor flick, Karz. Being well-versed in Bollywood-ian logic, I, of course, figured out the entire narrative within the first few minutes, but here's the thing: not only did include all the mind-numbing twists in plot, song-and-dance sequences from the original, it also included a five minute enforced repartee between the characters on how the ruling military junta was bringing the Burmese closer together by building roads.

Which is when I realized: truly, lobotomy is better than lobotomy _and_ Orwellian doublespeak. I walked out of the movie hall.

(Yes, I originally intended to post a much shorter response, but got drawn out into rambling on and on. Late at night here, and all that.)</sup)
posted by the cydonian at 7:35 AM on January 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey everybody, look, I'm a vyákaraña nazi!

I believe you mean vyākaraṇa.
/diacritic nazi

And what's with this "Tamizh" stuff? Do you also write "Pahhhee" for Paris? If you're writing about an Australian named Claire, do you write her name "Claih" because she doesn't pronounce the r? Tamil is pretty obscure (outside of India) anyway; I don't see the point in confusing people further by writing it in an idiosyncratic way.

Nitpicking aside, a fascinating comment!
posted by languagehat at 8:15 AM on January 29, 2007


oh dear, languagehat, I know by responding I'm stepping in way over my head. According to Wikipedia "The name 'Tamil' is an anglicised form of the native name தமிழ் (IPA /t̪ɐmɨɻ/). The final letter of the name, usually transcribed as the lowercase l or zh, is a retroflex r. In phonetic transcriptions, it is usually represented by the retroflex approximant." Could it be that Tamizh is actually the technically correct way of spelling the word?

And I second your opinion that it was a fascinating comment!
posted by nickyskye at 2:38 PM on January 29, 2007


I know Tamil is pronounced "tamizh" (more or less) in Tamil; that is not a reason for tampering with the long-established spelling in English. The fact that some people (whose native language is apparently not English) choose to spell it that way is neither here nor there. That's why I asked about spelling Paris with some approximation of how it sounds in French; I was hoping that would make clear how silly it is.
posted by languagehat at 3:03 PM on January 29, 2007


Actually, I think anything the cydonian says is wonderful. I'm a little gaga about him. :) But Tamizh does look a bit silly.
posted by nickyskye at 5:37 PM on January 29, 2007


why you breaking his/her heart by putting songs like this?

can you think of any better way to have one's heart broken?

Hindi cinema wants to make money by any means. So it goes behind the audience with the largest wallet, the ex-pat ones.

huh? now, this i just don't get. in australia, at least, it seems that every single tape, video, cd or dvd is a bootleg. how even one paise makes it back to bollywood from overseas is completely beyond me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:20 PM on January 29, 2007


ha ha, good one uburoivas. nothing like a heart rending hindi song, ideally mukesh's dost dost na raha for heart break.

cydonian: i have a friend from kalamassery actually, he's currently an architect in dubai. heh. small world, and i've sat through NASA students debating exactly what you're talking about, the patterns and trends in regional indian cinema.
posted by infini at 7:26 PM on January 29, 2007


re: the jhumri talaiyya audience and the current crop of movies - I'd hazard a guess the turning point from the uber popular family dramas triggered by the whole "didi tera dewar diwana" etc towards the "engineering" angst that you refer to with the movie "dil chahta hai"
posted by infini at 7:29 PM on January 29, 2007


The Simpsons shaking their booty to Bollywood
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:02 PM on January 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Heheh, that was actually some subtle humour on Tamilian sensibilities; Tamil language purists, and they tend to be rather obnoxious compared to other Indic-language purists, tend to be rather haughty on the 'zh' sound. Consider it my little snide commentary on calling Madras as 'Chennai', for example.

The intent, therefore, wasn't to be puritan about spelling, but to be snarky about puritanism. :-)

The French equivalent wouldn't be to call Paris as Pahree, but to semi-mockingly call 'French' as 'Français'. As in: "I like le français, and their Academie." :-)

You guys, however, are right in saying that people not used to this might find it confusing. Rather, this thread isnt the venue for unexplained socio-linguistic commentary.

You're also absolutely correct in saying that I've abused accents thoroughly. Which, of course, was the entire point. :-)

Nickyskye: That Tamizh thing, as I've explained so far, is a small blemish. B-) Regular programming will continue from now on.

infini: Haha, kalamasserry => CUSAT? :)

Ubirovas: Look at it this way. Singapore's largest cinema theater shows _only_ Indian movies, and at a price that's more than for regular Hollywood releases. That, coupled with the fact that it's all dollar revenue, AND that foreign income is not taxed in India, means that the overseas market is a huuuge cash cow for Indian cinema of all languages.

The point I was making was that only Bollywood seems to be creating content to address this demographic; all other industries simply cash on the boom without changing their movies _too much_. Both Dil Chaata Hai and bommarillu (a recent post-teen-angst flick in Telugu) deal with folks in their twenties, but only Dil Chaata Hai has action in Sydney.
posted by the cydonian at 11:21 PM on January 29, 2007


why stop at Singapore, here's the desi diaspora, not to mention in russia, parts of the middle east and africa as well as the ASEAN.
posted by infini at 1:07 AM on January 30, 2007


oh boy - lots of nickyskye goodness here! great, fun post!
posted by madamjujujive at 5:08 AM on January 30, 2007


The intent, therefore, wasn't to be puritan about spelling, but to be snarky about puritanism.

Ah, gotcha! You're right, this probably wasn't the ideal audience, but sorry to have inadvertently stepped on your joke.
posted by languagehat at 5:48 AM on January 30, 2007


why stop at Singapore, here's the desi diaspora, not to mention in russia, parts of the middle east and africa as well as the ASEAN.

You forgot Antarctica - if that wikipedia claim about bhojpuri is to be believed.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:56 PM on January 30, 2007


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