Take Hollywood, replace the first letter with ‘B’ for Bombay – Mumbai’s former moniker, and the centre of Indian cinema – and you get Bollywood, the world’s largest producer of films.
Click start to play today’s Crossword, which tests your knowledge of the history of the Indian film industry.
The word “Bollywood” was supposedly coined in the 1970s by the writer of a magazine’s gossip column. But Indian cinema has been around since 1913, during the silent era of films, when the first-ever Indian feature film, Raja Harishchandra, was shown on screen to fascinated audiences. After that, there was no looking back.
In terms of numbers, India churns out hundreds of movies every year. According to a September 2014 article in US-based business magazine Forbes, in 2012, Bollywood produced 1,602 films – three times as many movies as Hollywood, which produced 476 in the same year. And while India’s movie industry showcases films from its diverse states, across 20 languages, Hindi-based Bollywood is its largest sector. According to US-based financial news website Business Insider, Bollywood accounted for a third of movie tickets sold in India in 2020 – that’s about 44 per cent of net box office revenue!
The industry has created superstars, blockbuster films, hit songs, choreographed dances, beloved stories and sagas.
The 2016 Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal is the highest grossing Bollywood film ever – it raked in $311 million (Dh1.1 billion). The biopic depicts the efforts of Mahavir Singh Phogat, a former wrestler, who trains his daughters to become champions in the sport. One of his daughters, in fact, went on to become India’s first female wrestler to win at the Commonwealth Games, in 2010.
Some Bollywood films – like the 1975 film about bandits and outlaws, Sholay, or the 1960 romance saga Mughal-e-Azam – have become cult classics. Their costumes, songs, dialogues and characters are still remembered fondly, over half a century later.
But sometimes, the Indian populace just can’t seem to let go of old favourites. The 1995 film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) – with the beloved pairing of actors Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol – became the longest-running Hindi film of all time, with a historic 1,274-week run at Mumbai's Maratha Mandir theatre.
No matter which genre you prefer, Bollywood’s vast repository of movies may have something you would enjoy.