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Bollywood (Hindi: बॉलीवूड) is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; it is only a part of the Indian film industry. Bollywood is the largest film producer in India and one of the largest in the world. The name is a portmanteau of Bombay (the former name for Mumbai) and Hollywood, the center of the American film industry. Bollywood is generally referred to as Hindi cinema, though frequent use of poetic Urdu words is fairly common. There has been a growing presence of Indian English in dialogue and songs as well. It is not uncommon to see films that feature dialogue with English words and 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 per annum. The first Indian sound film, Ardeshir Irani's Alam Ara (1931), was a major commercial success. There was clearly a huge market for talkies and musicals; Bollywood and all the regional film industries quickly switched to sound filming.
The 1930s and 1940s were tumultuous times: India was buffeted by the Great Depression, World War II, the Indian independence movement, and the violence of the Partition. Most Bollywood films were unabashedly escapist, but there were also a number of filmmakers who tackled tough social issues, or used the struggle for Indian independence as a backdrop for their plots.
In 1937, Ardeshir Irani, of Alam Ara fame, made the first colour film in Hindi, Kisan Kanya. The next year, he made another colour film, Mother India. However, colour did not become a popular feature until the late 1950s. At this time, lavish romantic musicals and melodramas were the staple fare at the cinema.
Following India's independence, the period from the late 1940s to the 1960s are regarded by film historians as the "Golden Age" of Hindi cinema. Some of the most critically-acclaimed Hindi films of all time were produced during this period. Examples include the Guru Dutt films Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) and the Raj Kapoor films Awaara (1951) and Shree 420 (1955). These films expressed social themes mainly dealing with working-class urban life in India; Awaara presented the city as both a nightmare and a dream, while Pyaasa critiqued the unreality of city life. Some of the most famous epic films of Hindi cinema were also produced at the time, including Mehboob Khan's Mother India (1957), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and K. Asif's Mughal-e-Azam (1960). V. Shantaram's Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957) is believed to have inspired the Hollywood film The Dirty Dozen (1967). Madhumati (1958), directed by Bimal Roy and written by Ritwik Ghatak, popularized the theme of reincarnation in Western popular culture. Other acclaimed mainstream Hindi filmmakers at the time included Kamal Amrohi and Vijay Bhatt. Successful actors at the time included Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt, while successful actresses included Nargis, Meena Kumari, Nutan, Madhubala, Waheeda Rehman and Mala Sinha.
While commercial Hindi cinema was thriving, the 1950s also saw the emergence of a new Parallel Cinema movement. Though the movement was mainly led by Bengali cinema, it also began gaining prominence in Hindi cinema. Early examples of Hindi films in this movement include Chetan Anand's Neecha Nagar (1946) and Bimal Roy's Two Acres of Land (1953). Their critical acclaim, as well as the latter's commercial success, paved the way for Indian neorealism and the Indian New Wave. Some of the internationally-acclaimed Hindi filmmakers involved in the movement included Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, Ketan Mehta, Govind Nihalani, Shyam Benegal and Vijaya Mehta.
Ever since the social realist film Neecha Nagar won the Grand Prize at the first Cannes Film Festival, Hindi films were frequently in competition for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, with some of them winning major prizes at the festival. Guru Dutt, while overlooked in his own lifetime, had belatedly generated international recognition much later in the 1980s. Dutt is now regarded as one of the greatest Asian filmmakers of all time, alongside the more famous Indian Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray. The 2002 Sight & Sound critics' and directors' poll of greatest filmmakers ranked Dutt at #73 on the list. Some of his films are now included among the greatest films of all time, with Pyaasa (1957) being featured in Time magazine's "All-TIME" 100 best movies list,and with both Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) tied at #160 in the 2002 Sight & Sound critics' and directors' poll of all-time greatest films. Several other Hindi films from this era were also ranked in the Sight & Sound poll, including Raj Kapoor's Awaara (1951), Vijay Bhatt's Baiju Bawra (1952), Mehboob Khan's Mother India (1957) and K. Asif's Mughal-e-Azam (1960) all tied at #346 on the list.