A shot from the first film of the India Film Industry.
Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), Maharashtra, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; however, it is only a part of the total Indian film industry, which includes other production centres producing films in multiple languages. Bollywood is the largest film producer in India and one of the largest centres of film production in the world.
Bollywood is formally referred to as Hindi cinema.
The Wrestlers (1899) and The Man and His Monkeys (1899) directed and produced by Harischandra Sakharam Bhatawdekar (H. S. Bhatavdekar) were the first two films made by Indian filmmakers, which were both short films. He was also the first Indian filmmaker to direct and produce the first documentary and news related film titled The Landing of Sir M.M. Bhownuggree.
Pundalik (Shree Pundalik) (1912), by Dadasaheb Torne alias Rama Chandra Gopal, and Raja Harishchandra (1913), by Dadasaheb Phalke, were the first and second silent feature films respectively made in India. By the 1930s the industry was producing more than 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. Joymoti (1935 film) by Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla was the first Indian dubbed film, released in Calcutta on 10 March 1935. Till then, all dialogues of all talkies were had to be recorded at locations during the shooting of the film. Through Joymoti (1935 film), dubbing technology was successfully introduced to Indian cinema by Assamese filmmaker Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla.
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, a version of 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.