Bollywood is the popular term used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to Indian cinema as a whole, though it is only a part of the total industry, which includes other production centers producing films in regional languages. Bollywood is actually the largest film producer in India and one of the largest centers of film production in the world.

Bollywood is formally referred to as Hindi cinema.There has been more and more Indian English appearing in dialogue and songs as well. It’s now common to see films that feature English dialogue interspersed with the native language (also known as Hinglish), phrases, or even whole sentences.

Raja Harishchandra (1913), by Dadasaheb Phalke, was the first silent feature film made in India. By the 1930s, the industry was producing over 200 films each year. The first Indian sound film, Ardeshir Irani’s Alam Ara (1931), was a major commercial success. Consequently, there was a significant demand for ‘talkies’ and musicals, prompting Bollywood and all the regional film industries to begin implementing film with sound.

Given the tumultuous times of the 1930s and 1940s- Great Depression, World War II, the Indian independence movement, and the violence of the Partition- most Bollywood films aimed to be wholly escapist, though there were a number of filmmakers who broached volatile social issues. The struggle for Indian independence was also used as a main theme for some film’s plots.

In 1937, Ardeshir Irani, of Alam Ara fame, made the first Hindi film in colour, called Kisan Kanya. The next year, he produced a colour version of Mother India. However, colour didn’t enjoy popularity amongst viewers until the late 1950s. Flamboyant romantic musicals and melodramas were highly desirable and the most popular genre of moviegoers at the time.

Bollywood employs people from all over India, attracting thousands of aspiring actors and actresses as well. Models and beauty contestants, television actors, theatre actors and even common people come to Mumbai with hopes of grandeur in becoming stars. Like Hollywood, very few succeed in their quest. Since many Bollywood films are shot abroad, many foreign extras are employed too.

Bollywood film music is called filmi music (from Hindi, meaning “of films”). Songs from Bollywood movies are usually pre-recorded by professional playback singers, with the actors lip-synching the words to the song, often while dancing.