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by World Music Network September 12, 2012


Celebrating Bollywood's Centenary

Have you ever come across a Bollywood movie or maybe heard a track on the radio? Read on for more information on this celebration of Indian film, music and dance. Click this link to check out WMN Bollywood collection.

We celebrate the 100th anniversary of Bollywood this year by exploring its history and its music. Check out three of WMN's all-time favourite Bollywood music clips too. 

In this section we will be discussing a short history of the Bollywood film industry and how it evolved into what is now a multi-million dollar industry. 

The first silent feature film made in India was in 1913 by Dadasaheb Phalke called Raja Harishchandra. By the 1930s the industry had already begun making 200 films per year. The first Indian sound film Ardeshir Irani’s Alam Ara made in 1931 was a major commercial success so Bollywood and all the regional film industries followed the idea of sound filming.

India was hit with historical events such as the Great Depression, World War II, the Indian independence movement as well as the torment of the Partition which impacted on the film industry. A lot of the Bollywood films dealt with tough social issues or the struggle for Indian independence.

Following Ardeshir Irani’s successful first sound film came the first colour film in Hindi Kisan Kayan. Colour film was not a popular feature until the late 1950s by which point prolific romantic musicals and dramas were frequently used in cinema.In the late 1960s and 1970s romance and action movies became popular, and into the 1980s and 1990s movies swung back toward family-centric romantic musicals. By 2000 Bollywood had globalized and grew in popularity around the world leading film makers to explore cinematography, story lines and technical effects. 

Romance, family dramas and patriotism are central themes of Bollywood films and music.

Songs from Bollywood movies are generally pre-recorded by professional playback singers with the actors lip synching the words to the song, sometimes while dancing. Kishore Kumar and Noor Jehan were great actors and playback singers. Most notable female singers of Bollywood are Asha Bhosle, Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum and Alka Yagnik, Among the male singers are Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey, Udit Narayan and Sonu Nigam.

Mohammed Rafi is arguably the finest of the singers that have lent their voice to Bollywood songs followed by Lata Mangeshkar who through the course of her six decade career, recorded thousands of songs for Indian movies.

The Rough Guide To Bollywood

Check out this exciting and colourful introduction to The Rough Guide To Bollywood.

Film remains king in India where Bombay’s vast commercial Hindi-language cinema is bursting with glamour and high drama, from tear-jerking storylines to complicated love trysts, all set to gloriously vibrant Bollywood musical grooves. The Rough Guide To Bollywood features classics with unexpected twists and stylistic surprises that captivate and live long in the memory. 


Let us explore the evolution of Bollywood cinema during its 100 years of progress. We start from the first Indian silent film to the most modern and upbeat Bollywood film.

1913:This is India's first feature-length silent film Raja Harishchandra made in 1913. It was directed by Dhundiraj Govind Phalke and first screened on April 21, 1913. The complete film is no longer available and these are portions of the first and last reels of the original 3700 feet of film. This video is a part of the India Public Domain Movie Project.

1946:Check out this video from the Bollywood movie Anmol Ghadi (1946) featuring Noor Jehan.  This film was a musical hit and still remembered for its music by Naushad. The film also featured playback singer, Mohammed Rafi's first notable song, Tera Khilauna Toota.

2012:Now check out a video that could not be more different from the others! 'Arnakali Disco Chali' song from Housefull 2featured on  T-Series .This film required a very large cast for the dance scenes and this clip is a good example of how lip syncing works with the actors and playback singers.

Click this link to explore more Bollywood music from WMN's collection of Bollywood albums.