Bollywood: A Glimpse Into India’s Evolution
Bollywood, the Hindi film industry, is one of the largest centers of film production in the world. Based in Mumbai, the entertainment capital of India, it produces an average of 1,500 – 2,000 films each year, according to a report by Deloitte. This industry is most prominently characterized by the incorporation of multiple music and dance sequences into almost every movie that it produces.
Within and between the music and dance sequences are storylines which reveal the beliefs and aspirations of the Indian society. Javed Akhtar, a renowned Indian poet and screenwriter, aptly described the industry: “The films certainly do reflect what is happening in society. But they reflect the desires, the hopes, values, and traditions. They are not a real reflection but the dreams of a society.”
Modest, fairytale-like, and archaic, older Bollywood films depicted motifs such as innocence, love at first sight, and patriarchy. One of the lines in the 2001 Bollywood movie, “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham,” is spoken by a husband to his wife when she attempts to question his decision to arrange their son’s marriage, “Keh diya na? Bas. Keh dia.” It is translated semantically as “What I said is final.” This line quintessentially expresses the misogynistic attitude that was prevalent in India for decades, and to the current Indian generation who watches that movie, it is a very memorable because it conveys such an obsolete concept.
From its foundation in 1970’s, Bollywood has been evolving constantly. Reflecting Bollywood’s dynamic evolution is the progressing mindset of the population of India; movies have gradually depicted more liberal choices. Just 17 years after “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham,” Bollywood completely demolished its conservative front with the 2018 movie “Veere Di Wedding,” which explicitly presents concepts of dating, pre-marital sex, and gender equality in relationships. *grandmother faints* However, such a movie does not reflect the current mindset of Indian society; rather, as Javed Akhtar said, it reveals its hopes. Currently, such drastic changes in values are inevitably frowned upon, usually by those of the older generations.
Although there is a radical shift in the ideals of the Indian society, as reflected in Bollywood movies, the importance of family, community, celebration, music, and dance are preserved in almost all movies. Furthermore, they continue to be featured in weddings and in celebrations of national festivals such as Diwali and Holi, where family and friends unite and dance to Bollywood music. Since these values continue to be a part of movies and events, they serve as the premise of Indian culture.
The UMB Indian Association, a student-led campus organization, introduces Bollywood music and dance to the Baltimore community via Bollywood Dance Fitness Classes held at the SMC Campus center each week. For updates on the time and date, please find the UMB Indian Association on Facebook, or E-mail the president at: firstname.lastname@example.org.