Written by: Ashley Koh (21-A1), Lian Zhiqi (21-I1) and Tricia Loh (21-U1)
Designed by: Ashley Lay (21-O1)
Colourful costumes, plots clichély familiar or refreshingly new, dashing male leads and gorgeous heroines: these are some of the things that we think of when we mention “Bollywood”. After all, these are staples of Hollywood movies, from which Bollywood draws much of its influence and inspirations. Even the genre’s namesake is a combination of “Bombay” (or the old-timey name for Mumbai), and “Hollywood”!
However, Bollywood and Hollywood differ in one big area: the music. Most Hollywood films, save musicals, usually don’t pay much attention to the music. Admittedly, soundtracks from famous Hollywood movies can become huge hits, but they are rarely the stars of the movies themselves.
In Bollywood, this is completely not the case. Bombastic group numbers, tentatively gentle romantic ballads and many other types can be seen in every Bollywood movie. Without fail and regardless of the genre of movie, actors can be found bursting into song. They may even break into impromptu yet expertly choreographed dances. The biggest Bollywood stars of today are also excellent singers.
However, Bollywood hasn’t always been as developed as the industry currently is. So how did it all begin?
Ever since Hindi cinema started in 1931, its films have heavily incorporated various musical genres. They are a characteristic element of Indian films which makes it timelessly popular and enjoyable for its generations of audience.
India is a culturally diverse country with different groups of people speaking in different tongues and dialects. Bollywood music breaks through these language barriers by effectively intriguing their audience with lively and vibrant beats combined with dances performed by an energetic mob of people. Thus, by connecting citizens from all over the country and even attracting audiences outside, Bollywood music has gained a great reputation for itself.
Shreya Goshal is one of the most famous singers in Bollywood, with her net worth being a whopping US $25 million! Her most famous songs include Jaadu Hain Nasha Hai and Saans among many other hits. Jaadu Hain Nasha Hai was composed for the 2003 movie Jism and adopts a soft and dreamy tone with the acoustics being emphasised the greatest. The song communicates a girl’s increasing vulnerability toward her love interest, slowly opening up to him as she becomes more connected with him. Jaadu Hain Nasha Hai literally translates to ‘it’s magic’. How romantic!
Goshal charges 20 lakh rupees per song, which converts to about SG $36,500! Making it big in Bollywood is definitely challenging, but it undoubtedly earns the artists good money. Having their name known by over 1 billion of India’s citizens as well as striking it rich while doing what they love (singing) is probably the major pulling factor drawing hoards of young, aspiring musicians into the Bollywood scene.
Many foreign artists have even taken inspiration from Bollywood music for their own pieces! Did you know that the famous violin riff from “Toxic” by Britney Spears was taken from a hugely popular Bollywood song? Another example is “Paint the Town” by KPOP group LOONA which is a Bollywood-inspired dance and hip hop track with strong fast-paced percussion and sampled exotic vocals.
But this international love for Bollywood doesn’t just stop at pop music sampling. The Bollywood craze has become global, with at least 9 different countries including Germany, Japan, Peru and even Russia going gaga over these colourful and vibrant Indian films with their music telling tales of adventure and love. The films and songs also serve as a reminder of home for many Indians living abroad and out of their native country. The music can even be a stepping stone for Indian children living abroad to get in touch with a part of their culture, their mother tongues.
After examining all the factors and the reasons behind Bollywood’s rise to dominance in the global film industry, it is clear that it’s become a force to reckon with. With the Indian film industry continuing to improve and catch up to Hollywood in terms of quality and prominence, it is also clear that Bollywood is here to stay.
So before you go, why not get in on the craze? Sick Beats recommends a few Bollywood songs to get you started:
- Chaiyya Chaiyya: Sung by Academy Award winning artist Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasthi, this evergreen and massively popular classic from 1998 captivated the hearts of millions of Indians with its hypnotically catchy melody and mesmerising vocals from both Singh and Awasthi. If you want to get into Bollywood music, look no further.
- Nazm Nazm: Another romantic yet modern song that captures the sweetness of love, this will have you swaying along to the gentle voice of the singer Arko.
- Dil Dhadakne Do: On the more lighthearted and foot-tapping side, there is this song which shares its name with the film it’s composed for. Fun, catchy and sung by international superstar Priyanka Chopra Jonas, this one will get your head bopping.
- Kabhi Khushi Khabie Gham: The last entry of these recommendations is definitely not the least. Sung by the greatest playback singer in the world Lata Mangeshkar, this song’s distinctive and emotive melody accompanied by Lata’s iconic vocals tell a beautiful and heart-wrenching story that truly encompasses the meaning of the song’s title: “in happiness and sadness”
Now that you know a little bit about the tour de force named Bollywood, we hope you will dive into the colourful costumes, plots clichély familiar or refreshingly new, dashing male leads and gorgeous heroines and most importantly, the must-listen soundtracks of any Bollywood film.
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