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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hooray for Bollywood

The art is largely western in style. All else is Hindi.
Do you recognize any of the movie posters above. They all represent exceptional examples of the moviemaker's art. If you don't (and there's no good reason you should unless you're from the Asian half of the world) look below. They're all the result of the creative cinematic efforts of the largest motion picture capital of the world--and it's not Hollywood (with an "H"), but what's come to be known as Bollywood (with a "B"). Yes, the Hindu film world of India now produces more movies each year than our modest little suburb of Los Angeles. Of course there's always the intellectual battle between quality and quantity, but who's to say, barring the bias of national pride, whose art is the best, that flavored with curry or good old American vanilla.
Bollywood loves to dance--any style--as East meets West.
Quite apart from the tongue-in-cheek derivative name, there are a lot of similarities between two film capitals. The stars, both male and female, are quite beautiful, not to mention romantic and sexy. The film quality is as uneven regardless of the culture from which it originates. Whether Hollywood or Bollywood, many of the same rules apply. Sex sells (below). Comedy thrives. Marketing is everything (top). Heroic adventure is king, romance is queen, and young people pay the bills at the box office. If you turn off the sound, the films even look much alike.
Bollywood's answer to The Golden Girls?
As much as the two motion picture communities seem to mirror one another, the differences are just as telling. Unlike Hollywood, you will not find Bollywood on any map of Mumbai or Telangana (a secondary city in India famous for it's Telugu film industry). Bollywood is not a place but more a state of mind. (The latter could probably be said of Hollywood too.) Whereas Hollywood boast predominantly massive film factories, some as much as a century old, Bollywood is much more democratic, with film studios of all sizes and importance (below).
From iconic landmarks to little more than storefronts,
Bollywood studios vary tremendously in size.
Hollywood is a bit older than Bollywood though not by much. The first films were made on the west coast (before there was a Hollywood) shortly after the turn of the century. The first film to come out of India, Raja Harishchandra, made by Dadasaheb Phalke, had to wait until 1913. The Jazz Singer, the first American sound movie was filmed in 1927. The first Indian sound film, Ardeshir Irani's Alam Ara came in 1931. Technicolor came to Hollywood in 1939 (GWTW and Wizard of Oz). As to the advent of color, the Indian film industry actually beat Hollywood by two full years. Ardeshir Irani, made the first Hindi color film, Kisan Kanya in 1937 (below).

India's first color film arrived in 1937, two years before GWTW.
As any bonafide, self-respecting, film capital must have today, Mumbai's Film City will soon boasts the Bollywood Film Museum (below), a radical structure reminiscent of Frank Gehry. Designed by the Los Angeles based Yazdani Studio of Cannon, the structure will feature undulating multiple waves of spatial experience that cascade across the site submersing the museum-goer in an environment where they could be the star. Plans call for guests to enter the museum via a red carpet arrival, at theaters designed for gala events where orientation occurs. Some galleries are treated as working sets for a ‘behind the scenes’ feel, while others will use interactive technology to immerse patrons in worlds only found on screen. The Bollywood Museum intends not to be a box containing artifacts, but a living space celebrating and supporting a living film culture.

Bollywood Film Museum, Film City, Mumbai, India
Bollywood theme park, Dubai, UAE.
Okay, so it's not actually in India.

What Bollywood does best:
(23 minutes, a broad variety of clips from five different movies)
Bollywood City is actually a
Hindi movie studio, not a city.


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