Indian film industry is considered as world’s largest film industry in terms of ticket sales and number of movies produced and released in a year. In total almost 800 movies are produced every year and Hindi movies aka Bollywood movies comprise almost 20% of the total production. Hindi movies are circulated nationally and have a large international audience. Since 1930s, Hindi movies are circulated internationally and have been liked by Eastern European, African, Arab and Central Asian masses.
From action, mystery, horror to romance, musical and melodrama, there are a wide range of genres that Indian directors love to exploit in their movies to evoke emotional response amongst the viewers. If we look at the history of Hindi cinema we would find that the movies made during the initial phase were largely inspired by two popular epics- Ramayana and Mahabharta.
The first Indian film, Raja Harischandra which was produced by Dada Saheb Phalke is a silent movie made in four reels with title cards in Hindi and English. It focused on the mythological character of King Harishchandra. It’s the story of a virtuous and kind king, who gave up his family, wordly possessions, kingdom, and riches for upholding the values he cherished the most – truth, honesty and integrity. After the success of Raja Harishchandra, many mythological movies like Kalidaman and Ghar ki Lakshmi were released.
1950s saw movies like Raj Kapoor’s Awara and Shree 420, Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zamin, Guru Dutt’s Pyasa, B.R. chopra’s Naya Daur and Mehboob’s Mother India. These movies successfully raised significant issues of the then rural and urban India. Anand Math by Hemen Gupta is based on the Sanyasi rebellion; it also narrates the horrors of famine in rural British India. There were romantic movies like Madhumati and Devdaas which swept the young audiences off their feet. During this era, the songs written and the music composed for the films made an infinite mark in the history of Hindi cinema. Songs like “Yeh desh hai veer jawaano ka”, “ude jab jab zulfein”, ” dil ka haal sune dilwala”, “Mudh mudh ke na dekh”, “ramaiyaa vasta vaiyaa”, ” mera juta hai japani”, ” Pyaar hua ikraar hua hai”, “suhana safar” and “dil tadad tadap” still flutters our heart. Hemanta Kumar’s version of Vande Matram in Anand Math was a cult success.
Social issues and melodrama were the center of hindi movies in 1960s. Films like Jis Desh Main Ganga Behti Hay, Ganga Jamuna, Kabuliwaala, Asli Naqli and Upkaar raised social issues and are still popular with the masses. The portrayal of love, pain and separation reached new heights in K Asif’s Mughal-e -Azam. With its lavish production, the film took nine years and Rs 10.5 million to complete. P.L. Santoshi’s “Barsaat Ki Raat” and Mohamed Sadiq’s “Chaudhvin Ka Chand” touched the hearts of the masses and the movie scores and the soundtracks are still a huge hit. Who can forget Shakeel Badayuni’s soul stirring “Chaudvin Ka Chand Ho” or Sahir Ludhianvi’s “zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi wo barsaat ki raat”? The 60s also saw some memorable comedy flicks. Shammi Kapoor’s new and popular image in romantic comedies “Junglee” and “Kashmir Ki Kali” became an instant hit.
Melodrama and romance continued as the popular genre in 1970s with movies like “Aan Milo Sajna”,”Kati Patang”, “Khilona”, “Safar”, “Amar Prem”, “Sharmilee” “Yaadon ki Baarat”, “Daag” and “Bobby”. Dev Anand’s “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” with say no to drug message became extremely popular with Indian as well as international audiences. The movie was the launching pad for Zeenat Aman. Mid 70’s saw the arrival of action as the main genre in Bollywood. The epitome of success in the action genre was Ramesh Sippy’s ‘Sholay’, which is the biggest hit in the history of Bollywood.
The reincarnation theme again became a huge hit in 1980s with Subhash Ghai’s “Karz” staring Rishi Kapoor, Tina Munim and Simi Garewal and Rajesh Kanna, Hema Mailini starrer “Kudraat”. “Asha” by Om Prakash is still considered as one of the romantic movies ever made in Bollywood. The unforgettable song “Shisha Ho Ya Dil Ho, Aakhir Toot Jata Hai” topped the music charts. Kamal Hasan and Rati Agnihotri starrer blockbuster “Ek Duje Ki Liye” dwelt on the subject of two young people from different backgrounds falling in love. The year 1989 saw the charisma of romance getting enlivened again with Sooraj Barjatya’s “Maine Pyar Kiya” starring Salman Khan and Bhagyashree.
90s and the new millennium have seen movies in genres as varied as romance and sci fi. Social movies like “Ghayal”, “Sadak”, “Khalnayak”, “Damini” and “Bombay” were immensely liked by the audiences all across the globe. The 90s also saw the emergence of “anti hero” in Shah Rukh Khan starrers “Darr” and “Baazigar”. “Saajan”, “Hum Aapke Hain Kaun”, “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge”, “Dil To Pagal Hay”, “Kuch Kuch Hota Hay” and “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” made people hooked to romance flicks.
The new millennium saw Hrithik Roshan in “Kaho Na Pyaar Hay” sweeping the audiences off their feet. Movies like “Dil Chahta Hay”, “MunnaBhai MBBS” and “Taare Zameen Par” have charmed kids as well as adult audiences. Horror movies like “Bhoot” and “Raaz” took theatres by storm. Ashutosh Gowariker’s much acclaimed “Lagaan” released in 2001 starring Aamir Khan represented Indian cinema at the Oscars. Romance still continues to rule the box office with movies like “di Mohabbatein”, “Devdas”, “Hum Tum”, “Veer Zaara”, “Hum Tum” and ” Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi”.