Explain Bollywood to me

Help me fight my own ignorance.
The only Bollywood I’ve seen has been YouTube clips where there’s a super character who is able to break the law of physics or other similar silly maneuvers; or some fancy song and dance numbers

Is Bollywood any movie from India?
Or is it specifically that ‘style’?

Does anyone have any recommendations from Prime or Netflix?

Bollywood, in its broadest interpretation, means “the Indian film industry in general”, just as “Hollywood” is shorthand for the American film industry. But the term is also used to mean other things, including the styles, tropes, and expectations of Indian filmmaking, especially where those differ from American ones. And in the same way that an American filmmaker can do something that “isn’t Hollywood style”, an Indian one can do something that “isn’t Bollywood style”.

“Bollywood” most generally means Hindi-language mass-market cinema produced by the film industry headquartered in Mumbai/Bombay. It’s one of the few remaining mass-market film industries that produces a lot of movie musicals with big song-and-dance numbers, and often includes big song-and-dance numbers even in movies that aren’t strictly speaking musicals, so “Bollywood dance number” is a very common and recognizable type of scene.

But the category of “Bollywood movies” includes AFAIK not just rom-coms and musicals, but thrillers, dramas, action movies, the so-called “masala” or “mixed spice” movies that combine features of different genres, and so on. Basically, any type of movie that Hollywood makes has its counterpart in Bollywood (except usually with less explicit sex).

Yet, unlike Hollywood, hardcore porn stars can be accepted as crossover mainstream Bollywood actresses.

Um. I think we need to qualify this with the “Hindi-language” modifier. Hindi films make up the largest part of Indian-produced movies, but total only about 17% of them. Other important regional Indian film industries include “Kollywood” (Tamil films), “Mollywood” (Malayalam films), “Tollywood” (either Bengali films helmed in Tollygunge or Telugu films, or both), and many more.

Well, what sorts of movies do you like? Are you looking for something with iconic Bollywood dance numbers, or something featuring a particular actor, or a particular genre, or ? There are really quite a lot of Bollywood movies out there.

I don’t know about US Netflix, but both *Lagaan*and Aśokaare on Netflix here, and I recommend both.

So do I. A more widely seen “Bollywoodish” film with fewer subtitles is Slumdog Millionaire.

I once had a discussion with a guy about one of the big action movies that had come out of Bollywood and I was saying, “Well, yeah, it might be fine but I just don’t want to watch a song and dance routine.” And he says, “No no, it’s just an action film.” I ask, “So there’s no singing and dancing?” He says, “You should really watch it, the action sequences are really amazing!” And I ask again, “So…there’s no singing and dancing?”

“Now don’t be unreasonable, it’s still an Indian film.” :smiley:

It’s my experience that a Bollywood movie, no matter what the genre–horror, thriller, sci-fi, or even a romance–has at least one extravagant musical number.

I’m not going to try to define the genre, but I highly recommend Three Idiots
It’s about friends who meet in high pressure engineering college, and what happens to them after. It’s a Bollywood movie that is very accessible and enjoyable to westerners. Anyone who has studied math or engineering, or tried to satisfy parental demands, or rebelled against parental demands, will relate to it very well. I developed such a crush on Aamir Khan.

Yes, that’s a great film. Beautiful locations too.

How about this one?

I remember reading a review of an Indian film that was their version of Saving Private Ryan, basically high budget war film that was based on an actual gritty true story of a heroic squad of Indian soldiers trapped behind enemy lines.

In true Bollywood fashion however the review states the film was 4 hours long and had multiple song and dance numbers even when the soldiers were suppose to be stealth-y.

For me the definitive Bollywood film is “Dharam Karam”. It merits a link to the wikipedia article on it> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharam_Karam

Sounds interesting, but 170-minute running time?..

Hey, that’s why we have the “pause” button!

Last year I discovered Belgian movie theaters still break in the middle of the movie so people can go to the bathroom or re-visit the concessions stand (and it’s in the fucking middle, if someone is mid-phrase that’s their problem). Back when the were made, long movies such as The 10 Commandments used to not just get a pause but get split in two halves, which might even be shown in different days. If you get 3 hours’ worth of entertainment for the price of one movie ticket you certainly can’t complain about not getting your money’s worth.

Wait, is this actually true?

I might have to look into this “Bollywood” thing.

Excellent Film. I wouldn’t have thought of it as a Bollywood film (based on my previous stereotype of Bollywood films being either song & dance OR containing ridiculous physics. )

Thanks! I’ll check them out.