Argo’s newest playlist, Made in India: Essential Films, features four films by Indian directors that reflect the life, culture, and expressions of India.
In consideration of genre and category, our research on Indian cinema revealed some key learnings and misconceptions about this industry that you must know.
MYTH 1: THE INDIAN MOVIE INDUSTRY IS CALLED BOLLYWOOD
Bollywood, a portmanteau of “Hollywood” and “Bombay” (the former name of Mumbai), refers to the Hindi-language sector of India’s movie-making industry, still based in Mumbai. Bollywood is not a name for the Indian filmmaking industry; it is a name for the country’s Hindi film industry. Films are made in various other languages in India, and each language’s industry carries its own name (such as “Tollywood” and “Kollywood”).
MYTH 2: BOLLYWOOD IS THE BIGGEST FILMMAKING INDUSTRY IN THE WORLD
This is incorrect. The Indian film industry is the biggest in the world, with the American counterpart placing third — behind Nollywood, Nigeria’s equivalent. Bollywood is not the biggest industry in terms of output. Last year, more films were produced in Tamil (262) and Telugu (256) than in Hindi (221). ** But when it comes to global box office presence, Bollywood is in the forefront with the largest numbers in respect to sales.
MYTH 3: BOLLYWOOD IS A FILM GENRE
Bollywood is an industry, not a genre. Many Westerners think of Bollywood as a specific type of film defined by over-the-top song and dance routines, eclectic colors and frilly costumes, and formulaic love plots. This is false. According to Statista, the top most commercial genres in India’s film industry are actually Comedy, Action, Romance, Thriller and Drama, followed by Horror and Sci Fi. Bollywood markets itself in this way to the Western audience, and makes its sales based on these stereotyped notions of “exoticism,” however this is not always the case.
MYTH 4: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE IS A BOLLYWOOD FILM
Not only is Slumdog Millionaire not a Bollywood film, it is not even an Indian film. The film is directed by Danny Boyle, a British director. It stars both Indian and non-Indian cast. It is a British drama film. However, Danny Boyle was influenced by at least three Bollywood films (Black Friday, Satya, and Deewar). Some Indian critics argue that Boyle is guilty of aestheticizing life in the slums in a case of “poverty porn.” However, that is up to interpretation. Other films that are wrongly assumed to be Bollywood include A Passage to India (1984), Gandhi (1982), and The White Tiger(2020).
MYTH 5: ALL BOLLYWOOD FILMS ARE MUSICALS
While Bollywood cinema did begin in musicals, colorful sets, and romance and comedy, this does not define a Bollywood film. Musicals are part of the Bollywood stereotype because the industry had its roots in colorful music and dance stage presentations. This was due to a high rate of illiteracy and handicap of adapting literature into scripts in the early 20th century. However, Bollywood also produces intricate art-house films that focus on important concepts like family, life, and loss (films like Highway, Lunch Box, Piku, and Pink.)
ABOUT THE PLAYLIST
“MADE IN INDIA: ESSENTIAL FILMS” ON ARGO
Argo’s newest playlist consist of short films that encapsulate the life and culture in India. They are a testament to the evergrowing talent in India that are challenging the steroetypes of Indian cinema with topics ranging from existentialism, terrorism, marriage troubles, and education.
The playlist was curated by Arfi Lamba, an actor-producer who made his screen debut with the Best Film Academy Award winner, Slumdog Millionaire. Along with Katharina Suckale, Arfi co-founded Bombay Berlin Film Productions, a production house that specializes in Indo-European films.
Unable to rely on her cash-strapped family to further her education, Fatin, an ambitious Architecture Student seeks out a scholarship from a conservative Trust. When she discovers that the money comes with strings attached, her liberal values will be put to test. Watch here.
2) KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK
Eleven months of office work earns Dada his annual month of bliss in Darjeeling where he dedicates himself to designing the perfect crossword. After 22 years of this routine, Dada meets his match in a young man, a local tattoo designer who sees Dada working and interrupts him. But friend or foe, who is this boy? The Universe is knocking and Dada has to decide if he will let him in or not. Watch here.
3) THE IDIOT
Unable to get a visa, Abdul, an illiterate Muslim man from rural India, feels he has no choice but to hijack a domestic flight and redirect it to Australia. Inspired by actual events, this satire exposes the bigotry of a society fed on religious stereotypes and paranoia.Watch here.
Sameera (35), upper middle class, successful photographer, is happily married to her husband Vikram (37), who is comatose! She seems very accustomed and normal in her circumstance. They live their lives happily like any other married couple. But all is not rosy as she slowly feels pressure from friends as well as her own desires that sometimes pull at her. AWAKE is an intimate bittersweet drama that through the mundanity of an everyday relationship, explores the fine line between love and control. Watch here.
Discover your favorite short film on www.watchargo.com, or on the Argo app, available to download from iTunes App Store or Google Playstore. Follow us for updates on our new films on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.