Bollywood is the sobriquet for the Hindi language film industry based in Mumbai, India. It is more formally referred to as Hindi cinema. The term “Bollywood” is often loosely used as a synecdoche to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; however, Bollywood proper is only a part of the larger Indian film industry, which includes other production centres producing films in many other Indian languages.
Bollywood is one of the largest film producers in India, representing 43% of the net box office revenue, while Telugu and Tamil cinema represent 36%, and the rest of the regional cinema constitutes 21% as of 2014. Bollywood is also one of the largest centers of film production in the world. Bollywood is also one of the biggest film industries in the world in terms of the number of people employed and the number of films produced. In 2011, over 3.5 billion tickets were sold across the globe which in comparison is 900,000 tickets more than Hollywood. Bollywood produced 252 films in 2014 out of a total of 1969 films produced in Indian cinema.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, romance movies and action films starred actors like Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar and Shashi Kapoor and actresses like Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz and Asha Parekh. In the mid-1970s, romantic confections made way for gritty, violent films about gangsters (see Indian mafia) and bandits. Amitabh Bachchan, the star known for his “angry young man” roles, rode the crest of this trend with actors like Mithun Chakraborty, Anil Kapoor and Sunny Deol, which lasted into the early 1990s. Actresses from this era included Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha.
Some Hindi filmmakers such as Shyam Benegal continued to produce realistic Parallel Cinema throughout the 1970s, alongside Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, Ketan Mehta, Govind Nihalani and Vijaya Mehta. However, the ‘art film’ bent of the Film Finance Corporation came under criticism during a Committee on Public Undertakings investigation in 1976, which accused the body of not doing enough to encourage commercial cinema. The 1970s thus saw the rise of commercial cinema in the form of enduring films such as Sholay (1975), which consolidated Amitabh Bachchan’s position as a lead actor. The devotional classic Jai Santoshi Ma was also released in 1975. Another important film from 1975 was Deewar, directed by Yash Chopra and written by Salim-Javed. A crime film pitting “a policeman against his brother, a gang leader based on real-life smuggler Haji Mastan”, portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan; it was described as being “absolutely key to Indian cinema” by Danny Boyle. The most internationally acclaimed Hindi film of the 1980s was Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! (1988), which won the Camera d’Or at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the pendulum swung back toward family-centric romantic musicals with the success of such films as Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Dil (1990), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) making stars of a new generation of actors (such as Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan) and actresses (such as Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, Juhi Chawla). In that point of time, action and comedy films were also successful, with actors like Govinda and actresses such as Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor appearing in popular comedy films, and stunt actor Akshay Kumar gaining popularity for performing dangerous stunts in action films in his well known Khiladi (film series) and other action films. Furthermore, this decade marked the entry of new performers in arthouse and independent films, some of which succeeded commercially, the most influential example being Satya (1998), directed by Ram Gopal Varma and written by Anurag Kashyap. The critical and commercial success of Satya led to the emergence of a distinct genre known as Mumbai noir, urban films reflecting social problems in the city of Mumbai. This led to a resurgence of Parallel Cinema by the end of the decade. These films often featured actors like Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpai, Manisha Koirala, Tabu and Urmila Matondkar, whose performances were usually critically acclaimed.
The 2000s saw a growth in Bollywood’s popularity across the world. This led the nation’s filmmaking to new heights in terms of production values, cinematography and innovative story lines as well as technical advances in areas such as special effects and animation. Some of the largest production houses, among them Yash Raj Films and Dharma Productions were the producers of new modern films. Some popular films of the decade were Koi… Mil Gaya (2003), Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Veer-Zaara (2004), Dhoom (2004), Hum Tum (2004), Dhoom 2 (2006), Krrish (2006), and Jab We Met (2007). These films starred established actors. However, the mid-2000s also saw the rise of popular actors like Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor, and Abhishek Bachchan, as well as actresses like Rani Mukerji, Preity Zinta, Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor, and Priyanka Chopra.
In the early 2010s, established actors like Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar became known for making big-budget masala entertainers like Dabangg and Rowdy Rathore opposite younger actresses like Sonakshi Sinha. These films were often not the subject of critical acclaim, but were nonetheless major commercial successes. While most stars from the 2000s continued their successful careers into the next decade, the 2010s also saw the rise of a new generation of actors like Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan, Ranveer Singh, and Arjun Kapoor, as well as actresses like Vidya Balan, Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut, Anushka Sharma, and Parineeti Chopra.
Hindi films can achieve distribution across at least 22 of India’s 29 states. The Hindi film industry has preferred films that appeal to all segments of the audience (see the discussion in Ganti, 2004, cited in references), and has resisted making films that target narrower audiences. It was believed that aiming for a broad spectrum would maximise box office receipts. However, filmmakers may be moving towards accepting some box-office segmentation, between films that appeal to rural Indians, and films that appeal to urban and international audiences.