Welcome to Bollywood

Music is a large part of the Hindi film industry, and indeed, part of Hindi culture. The Hindi film industry is full of tremendous stars whose popularity in the films and music of the culture and Hindi and Urdu languages are surpassed only by their obscurity outside of India and Pakistan.
Bollywood is a term that is often used when describing Hindi film music, a play on North America's Hollywood, of course. But why is Hindi film music so important in the culture? What are some of its unique characteristics? What role does language play?
I asked these questions to Hindi/Urdu Language language specialist Patrick Jost..

Paula: What is "Bollywood"?

Patrick: Bollywood is India's answer to Hollywood . . . it gets its name from Bombay (India's film capital) + Hollywood! Of course, now that the name of the city has been changed to Mumbai, you can also call it Mollywood! But that's confusing - there's also a big Tamil language film industry in Madras, and people have called that Mollywood, but now Madras is called Chennai, but I have not heard anyone talk about Chollywood! I think Bollywood is good for now.

The Indian film industry is huge -- everywhere you go, you see the faces of Indian movie stars, and most of the music you hear is from the soundtracks.

Paula: What are some unique aspects of Hindi music?

Patrick: Hindi film music is very much like western pop music -- catchy tunes and rhythms! Traditional Indian music (Hindustani or Carnatic) has minor and subtle influences. Apart from the non-English vocals, a Hindi film soundtrack could easily be by a western pop group!

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