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Raja Harishchandra to Taare Zameen Par: The Evolution of Bollywood

From vibrant songs to iconic titles, Bollywood has vastly impacted the South Asian community beyond solely arts and entertainment.

Bollywood got its ‘B’ from Bombay, currently known as Mumbai, in the 70’s. However, the first Bollywood film was Raja Harishchandra in 1913. It was a silent film in black and white, and its success paved the way for the production of many more films to come.

Alam Ara (1931) was Bollywood’s first sound film and Kisan Kanya (1937) was the first color film. As the Indian film industry progressed, India was gaining its independence from the British Raj, gaining full independence in 1947. Colonization was a major theme of Bollywood films prior to independence with some films focusing on the lives of the working class.

As film evolved, music and soundtracks followed.. Dilwale Dulhiana Le Jayenge (1995) was the most successful film of the year and its soundtrack garnered enormous popularity. From tracks like “Tujhe Dehka To'' or “Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna”, DDLJ was extremely influential in the 90's.

The turn of the century into the 2000s allowed for Bollywood to reach a wider audience, specifically the West. Stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Kajol, Shahrukh Khan, and many more were rising stars in this era of Bollywood and gained major popularity and influence. For many Bollywood films, the actors grew a wider influence and drew in wide audiences from across the world.

Bollywood still has a long way to go in order to accurately represent different ethnic and social groups in India. While the industry has been making progress in regards to introducing newer and relevant themes in its films, many harmful stereotypes and gender norms still remain. The Bollywood Industry has a wide influence on many communities, so more people should advocate for positive and proper representation.


Editors: Alisha B., Luna Y.


Baltimore, University of Maryland. Bollywood: A Glimpse Into India’s Evolution - University of Maryland Graduate School. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023. Bollywood | History, Movies, Actors, Actresses, & Facts | Britannica. 12 Mar. 2023, “From Trans Villains To Colourism, Bollywood’s Representation Problem Continues.” Youth Ki Awaaz, 13 Mar. 2021, History of Bollywood - Indian Cinema History. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023. VaishaliV29. “Evolution of Bollywood- from 1920’s to 2020.” International Journal of Research (IJR), 4 July 2020,


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