The Underappreciated Art Of Bollywood


Maliha Rahman

Iconic Bollywood movies and music videos.

Bollywood is a genre of music based in India and has captured the hearts of people around the world. Known for its brightly colored outfits, eccentric set designs, and eye-catching choreography, Bollywood has drawn a devoted audience among many. 

However, the dedication actors, directors, and producers put into these films have gone unnoticed by Western audiences. South Asians and Middle Eastern populations are the main viewers of this genre, but many Westerners have overlooked the gems of Bollywood. 

The word Bollywood comes from Hollywood. The “B” stands for Bombay which is the “Los Angeles of the Indian Cinema scene.” The first Bollywood film dates back to 1913. 

During the 1920s, many movies were centered around religion and history. It wasn’t until the late 1940s that the modern Bollywood film came to fruition. One main difference between Hollywood and Bollywood is that the actor/actress is a major driving force behind the film. Actors like Amitabh Bachan and Shah Rukh Khan are seen as larger-than-life figures in Indian culture and are often idolized for the heroes they play. 

The industry is dominated by three main entertainment companies: T-Series, YRF, and Zee Cinema. These companies have played a huge role in uploading music videos and movie trailers onto their respective channels in order to gain more attention from international fans. For example, T-Series uploaded a music video on March 10, named “Har Funn Maula,” which has garnered over 25,000,000 million views over two days. 

Bollywood is known for its bright colors, eccentric set designs, and eye-catching choreography. Many of the music videos usually have the same formula: a guy starts singing to a girl he likes, the girl acts uninterested, the guy tries to reel her in to do the dance, the girl relents and starts dancing with him, then the song ends. Of course, the video wouldn’t be complete without other random background actors coming in and doing the choreography with the protagonists.

Another trope of music videos is the classic love song. Actor Shah Rukh Khan played a large role in portraying love songs from the 90s until now. His “SRK Pose” is featured in many of these music videos by opening his arms widely and singing to his lover in the movie. Actress Kajol was also featured in these music videos with SRK and the couple has continued to be praised for the songs they were in. Popular songs include “Suraj Hua Maddam” and “Gerua”, which have the couple singing and dancing in the desert and waterfalls, respectively.

Junior Mobashir Jahan is an avid fan of Bollywood movies.

“I love Bollywood because it’s so unique, it brings out the beauty in South Asian culture, and it’s also based in places filled with a lot of poverty, Bollywood finds a way to romanticize it. Bollywood music is unique because of how it is incorporated into almost every popular Bollywood film, it’s intertwined together, With movies like Aashiqui 2, it would NOT be the same without the soundtrack, and its ability to just move the story along in the film in such a fun way,” says Jahan. 

The dramatization of certain plots and characters is something of a staple in Bollywood. While newcomers to these films might find the exaggerated dialogue and interactions unrealistic, Bollywood fans have come to love the extravagant and vivacious worlds created by filmmakers. Hollywood, on the other hand, is known for its subdued approach and intrinsic attention to detail, making their films parallel real life as closely as possible. 

Musicals are received differently depending on the country they’re produced in. Musicals in Hollywood are their own genre, and they’re known for their iconic songs. Musical lovers can notably recall movies such as The Wizard of Oz, La La Land, and High School Musical. However, nearly all Bollywood movies are musicals. Characters breaking out in song and dance is more of a plot device signaling the introduction of a new character, characters falling in love, or a breakup, in Bollywood films. 

Growing up, our families have sat around our TVs watching Bollywood movies and watched people who look like us, be proud of their culture. Looking back, we appreciate how these movies have helped us connect with our Desi culture. Many Bollywood songs are used during any of our cultural events such as weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries. Seeing people sing and dance in Lehengas and Punjabis makes us feel seen in a country where we aren’t appropriately represented in mainstream media.