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Madhubala“Bollywood” – a tongue-in-cheek ten created by the English-language press hi India in the late 1970s – has now become the dominant global term to refer to the prolific and box-office oriented Hindi language film industry located in Bombay (renamed Mumbai in 1995). The Bombay film industry is aesthetically and culturally distinct from Hollywood, but as prolific and ubiquitous in its production and circulation of narratives and images. As the dominant media institution within India, the Bombay film Industry plays an important role in constructing and defining dichotomies like “traditional/modern” “global/local,” “Western/Eastern” and cate­gories such as “culture,” “nation,” and “Indian” .

The most frequent factual error perpetuated by the international and Indian press is that the Bombay film industry produces 800–1,000 films a year. The Bombay industry actually produces about 150—200 films a year. Feature films are produced in approx­imately 20 languages in India and there are multiple film industries whose total output makes India the largest feature film-producing country in the world. The cities of Madras and Hyderabad are home to the Tamil and Telugu language film industries which are as, or more prolific than the Bombay industry in terms of the number of films made per year.

However, Hindi films, though comprising approximately 20 percent of total production, are the ones that circulate nationally and internationally, dominate the discourse about Indian cinema, and are regarded as the standard or archetype to follow or oppose. Outside India, the category “popular Indian cinema” tends to denote Hindi films produced in Bombay. The distinctive features of popular Hindi cinema — song and dance, melodrama, lavish production values, emphasis upon stars and spectacle — are common to films made in the southern Indian industries as well. Thus, “Bollywood” has become a shorthand reference not only to a specific industry, but also to a specific style of filmmaking within the Industry which is aggressively oriented toward box-office success and broad audience appeal – Tejaswini Ganti

Note:- Cinema in India encompasses a great deal more diversity and has a longer history than the Bombay film industry. Even as a British colony, India was the third largest producer of films in the world. Therefore, with few notable exceptions, this website will not attempt to focus on “Indian cinema,” but will focus on Hindi cinema.


Leading Men

Ashok KumarDev AnandDilip KumarJairajKishore KumarK.L. SaigalMaster VithalMotilalPradeep KumarPrithviraj KapoorRaj KapoorSanjeev KumarSaif Ali KhanShahrukh KhanShammi Kapoor

Leading Ladies

Amrita AroraAsha MathurBibboBina RoyDevika RaniGeeta BaliKareena KapoorKhursheed BegumMadhubalaMadhuri DixitMala SinhaMeena KumariMeena ShoreyMumtaz Mumtaz ShantiMunawwar SultanaNadiaNargisNaseem BanoNasreenNinaNoor JehanNutanRaagniRajkumariRehanaRekhaRenuka DeviSadhanaSharmila TagoreShakilaShanta ApteSheila RamaniSmita PatelSnehprabha PradhanSuchitra SenSulochanaSuraiyaSwaranlataVyjayanthimalaWaheeda RehmanZeenat Aman

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