The 5 Hallmarks Of Bollywood Movies


1. Bollywood Dancing and Music in Films

Bollywood movies are almost like a Broadway musical. Each Bollywood movie has a plot, but throughout the movie, you’ll see the characters dancing to various songs. My parents grew up in an era where a majority of the time, the dancing in Bollywood movies consisted of classical, folk, cabernet, and disco style dances with minimal background dancers and no outfit change throughout the song. Since then, Bollywood developed a free style dance with actors like Govinda who developed their own popular trends. All of the background dancers were typically fairly dark, and not as attractive compared to the main actor and actress. Today, Bollywood dancing in movies are influenced by the Western culture. The background dancers are just as talented as the main characters in Bollywood movies. It’s all about the hips! Oh, and breaking, locking, and popping! There’s also a trend that almost the entire movie will take place in India but somehow the dance breaks will magically transport them to Egypt, Australia, Europe, you name it! The outfits worn during the songs don’t correlate with the weather, either; you must have seen the actress dancing in the snow with a sari on! (Also, people often say that in today’s Bollywood music, apparently there is no meaning behind any of the songs because they use random, made-up words. To an extent, it is very true, but these meaningless songs are the most upbeat and life of the party songs for today’s generation.)

2. The “Hero” and “Heroine”

Usually in the Bollywood world, an actor is considered a hero and the actress is known as the heroine. In older Bollywood movies, the bulky mustaches determined the hero’s masculinity. Now, the actor’s six-pack body makes him more mannish. As for heroines, back in the day, their role was determined as the innocent woman who had one goal in life: to never look past her family and husband. Also in many movies, their role was geared more towards a housewife role. Today, the heroine is portrayed as that sexy, levelheaded, independent, working woman. (Which, you know, is common sense?)

3. The Parents

The role of God-fearing parents in Bollywood has come a long way! In many movies, you’ve seen the widow mother who raised her multiple children alone, or the strict parents who did not allow their son or daughter to marry the person of their dreams due to barriers in caste, class, age, and status. I saw this in a lot of movies growing up, which made me realize that though the movies might have been hyperbolic, this also happens in real life, too. Now, you see cinematic parents who are super cool and are becoming more accepting of allowing their children to marry whomever they prefer (including same-sex marriages!) rather than having them run away, and shockingly now they are drinking and dancing at weddings! Way to go, Bollywood parents!

4. Public display of affection

Growing up, I rarely saw kissing scenes in Bollywood movies. Usually the two people would gaze into each other’s eyes to communicate the love they have for each other. Or, the protagonists would come really close to kissing, but the girl would shy away and start running with her arms in the air. Later, there was a period where they only showed the back of their heads, making the audience think that they’re actually making out. More recently, films featured kissing without lips moving. It just looked like two people’s lips were glued together. Today, Bollywood upgraded from publicly displaying kissing scenes to nude body parts and sex scenes where you start feeling uncomfortable watching it with your parents.

5. The Love Story

Bollywood used to only recognize the idea of love as giving up one’s self-esteem or even life for the sake of love, but those stories have considerably evolved with time. Why would one take their life when you have one life to live, right? There was a time when movies only featured lovers rebelling against their family and society for their love to be accepted. After that came a trend of love triangles, where one would sacrifice his or her love so the other two can be happy together. Then you saw a rise of obsessive lovers, where you saw the actor or actress attempting to jump off a cliff or get run over by a train if the other person did not express their love for that person. There were also love stories where the lovers got separated and waited for more than 20 years to reunite, not knowing whether the other person is alive or not. Today, you tend to see the Bollywood cinema trying to make love stories a little bit more realistic rather than dramatic so it can relate back to our generation.