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Bollywood is the informal name given to the popular Mumbai-based film industry in India. Though some purists deplore the name, it seems likely to persist and even has its own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. Bollywood is also commonly referred to as "Hindi cinema", even though frequent use of poetic Urdu words is fairly common. English is more and more used in dialogues and songs. It is not uncommon to see movies which feature dialogues studded with English words and phrases, even whole sentences. A few movies are also made in two or even three languages (either using subtitles, or several soundtracks). Bollywood and the other major cinematic hubs (Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Kannada, and Malayalam) constitute the broader Indian film industry, whose output is the largest in the world in terms of number of films produced and in number of tickets sold. Bollywood is a strong part of popular culture of not only India and the rest of the Indian subcontinent, but also of the Middle East, parts of Africa, parts of Southeast Asia, and among the South Asian diaspora worldwide. The word Bollywood was created by blending Bombay (the city now officially called Mumbai) and Hollywood, the center of the United States film industry.

 

 

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Bollywood films are usually musicals. Few movies are made without at least one song-and-dance number. Indian audiences expect full value for their money, with a good entertainer generally referred to as "paisa vasool", literally, "money extracted". Songs and dances, love triangles, comedy and dare-devil thrills -- all are mixed up in a three hour long extravaganza with an intermission. Such movies are called masala movies, after the Indian spice mixture masala. Like masala, these movies are a mixture of many things. Plots tend to be melodramatic. They frequently employ formulaic ingredients such as star-crossed lovers and angry parents, corrupt politicians, kidnappers, conniving villains, courtesans with hearts of gold, long-lost relatives and siblings separated by fate, dramatic reversals of fortune, and convenient coincidences. There have always been films with more "artistic" aims and more sophisticated stories (for example, many of the films of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Guru Dutt, Shyam Benegal, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, and Gulzar among others). They often lost out at the box office to movies with more mass appeal. However, Bollywood is changing. Current films are increasingly likely either to break the mold or to ironically subvert it. There is now a significant audience of young, educated, urban Indians who want to watch Indian films, but demand a different presentation. It should also be said that a fair number of films with mass-appeal are either estimable simply as well-crafted amusements (which is no small matter in an anxious world) or even artistic achievements in their own way. Any fan of Bollywood movies will be able to list films that he/she regards as transcending the run-of-the-mill masala movie.

 

 

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