Friday, May 3, 2013

Booray for Bollywood

It was 100 years ago today that India's first domestic film was released, so the Indian film community has been celebrating. I stated back in December 2011 that Bollywood is one of those areas I don't know much about, but it is of course one of the most prolific centers of filmmaking, with India producing more movies than the US and, as far as I know, having done so for decades. (Well, at least, normal theatrical releases; I have no idea how many porn films are made in the US each year.)

One of the things mentioned in the article -- surprisingly, I couldn't find a good article from India's English-language online news sites -- is that, just like Hollywood, a lot of that old movie legacy has been lost, including a fair number of talkies, and not just the old silents. Talking pictures came to India a bit later than in the English-speaking world, probably in part for monetary reasons and in part for linguistic reasons. I heard a report on the history of Indian cinema some time back on All-India Radio which mentioned that the silent pictures could be distributed to all parts of India without the moviegoers in Kolkata, who would be native Bengali speakers, having to have knolwedge of Hindi. Indeed, many years ago I saw a program on the local PBS channel about silent films in general which pointed out how many European countries had reasonably-sized film industries during the silent era because it was easier for them to distribute the movies to other countries without language being such a barrier. By the same token it was just as easy for Hollywood stuff to be exported to foreign countries, and it's always interesting how some American movies once considered lost wind up in some country where English isn't the first language, like those Baby Peggy shorts that were found in Denmark.

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