Media Anthropology – Introduction

Media & Visual Anthropology

The Bollywood phenomenon

Valerie Mozaffari and Anna Mettner


The growing appeal of Bollywood nowadays is a worldwide phenomenon. Due to it´s characteristics, which shall be identified in this blog entry briefly, it´s seen as the rising star of Indian film industry. The term `Bollywood´ itself was created by the English-language press in India in the late 1970´s and it is actually marking the Hindi film industry. Though it is kind of controverse because it ignores that feature films are produced in over twenty languages in India every year and that prolific film industries exist in a lot of other indian cities. Besides people suppose that because of the term´s similarity to America´s Hollywood, Bollywood tend to be a cheap copy of Hollywood but nevertheless the Bollywood film industry is at the same level or at least capable being at the same level of global dominance like Hollywood industry.


Even already in 2001, 14 years ago, Bollywood industry was numerical superior to Hollywood, how does show this diagram.



Bollywoodization of the indian cinema

The bollywoodization of the indian cinema is a phenomen, which especially has its origin in the liberalization of the indian market, which started with the replacement of India to the british colonial rule in the year 1947 and the following official independence of the indian market and their opening to foreign investors. Because of that, new goals of selling where raised, based on the new opportunities of the liberal indian market in the global capitalism. Among that, the export of indian entertainment products (music, movies etc…) started and with that, the export of indian movies to a foreign market with its own demand. The demand came from the new global audiences and the movies where not only anymore produced for India- there was a global audience, which wanted to consume indian movies by buying and watching them. Especially the global indian diaspora was interested in consuming products of the indian entertainment industry.

But is there a difference between Bollywood films and indian films? Yes, Bollywood and indian films have their main differences in the spoken (or showed) language. Using Hindi, a trade language, understandable for the vast majority of indian population, as the main language in Bollywood films made the films appealing for most indian people. The sense of nationalism increased even more when Hindi became the national language in India. Another tool which lends to the feeling of a unified nation of India via Bollywood is the electicism of music used in Hindi films – incorporating styles from various traditions f.e. from the north of India, religious, folk etc.


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Hum Aapke Hain Koun: Is a romantic movie published in 1994 about a forbidden love and arranged marriage. Therefore the shown trailer, with music examples of the mentioned movie, is demonstrating perfectly the different types of music in Hindi films.


What are the movies about? According the the former chairmen of the biggest enternainment group of India called ,,Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’’ Amit Dhirubhai, the success of the movies are caused by the impression of their stories- their ends are mostly happy ends and the colours and the dance make the audience feel- good. The characteristics that came to define Bollywood gave it a quality of nationalism: representing India as a whole and not speaking about just one religion group, language, geographical area or caste. So basically the industry creates a dreamworld, suggesting that everything is posible and that problems can be resolved with emotions – especially love.



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Devdas – Silsila Ya Chahat Ka: A romance published in 2002 about two young people who are forbidden to marry each other. Their frustration reflect the dancing and singing impacts – with a happy ending.


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Pretty Woman – Kal Ho Naa Ho: Another romance which has been published in 2003 and which is playing in the U.S.- it’s about a guy (the famous and most successfull indian actor Shah Rukh Khan), who flirts with a introvert girl, with whom he fell in love.

Due to the treated topics, the used music etc. both movies definitely can be seen as pretty much exemplary for the Bollywood film industry.



Anantharaman, Ganesh. (2008) Bollywood melodies. Penguin Books India. Mumbai. India.

Ganti, Tejaswini. (2013) Bollywood: A Guidebook to popular Hindi Cinema. New York. Routledge

Ganti, Tejaswini. (2012) Producing Bollywood: Inside the Contemporary Hindi Film Industry. Durhamn and London. Duke University Press

Gokulsing, K. Moti; Dissanayake, Wimal (2004) Indian Popular Cinema: A Narrative of Cultural Change. Trentham Books.

Rajadhyaksha, Ashish. (2010) Bollywoodization of the Indian Cinema: nationalism in a global arena. Inter- Asia Cultural Studies. Routledge.



Hum Aapke Hain Koun – Theatrical Trailer – Madhur Dixit & Salman Khan:

Devdas – Silsila Ye Chahat Ka 720p w/ English Subs:

Pretty Woman – Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) with English subtitles HQ:



4 Reaktionen zu “The Bollywood phenomenon”

  1. srikant

    Beautiful article on Bollywood. Points mentioned in this article relating this fast growing true is absolutely true.

  2. Ajay Patel

    Amazing post.
    Also read Khushi Kapoor Biography, Age, Wikipedia, Boyfriend, Height..



  4. Prashi Srivastava

    The Bollywood film industry, also known as Hindi cinema, has become a global phenomenon over the years, with its unique blend of music, dance, drama, and larger-than-life storytelling. Bollywood has not only captured the hearts of the Indian subcontinent but has also gained immense popularity among audiences worldwide. read more about Bollywood at @

    The rise of Bollywood can be attributed to its ability to create a magical world on the silver screen that provides an escape from reality. The films often showcase beautiful locations, extravagant sets, and stunning costumes, making them a visual treat for the audience. Moreover, Bollywood films are known for their catchy music and dance numbers, which have become a significant part of the industry’s identity.

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