How can we prove originality in cinema when even the name isn’t?

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Bollywood is a Bad Word.

Think of the large Hollywood sign, perched uniquely on a grassy mountain. It’s a signature of their cinema – a symbol of their industry. The term “Bollywood” is generated from Bombay, the capital city of Hindi movies, and (obviously) Hollywood. However, when something is copied it generally loses some of its value. Given, it’s just a name. And yes, the popular saying “What’s in a name?” does usually stand true. In addition, the content is wholly independent of the term, yet to our Indian sense of pride, it just doesn’t sound right. Why should our industry, which is just as good (if not better) than Hollywood, be called by an unoriginal copied name?

For years now, Indians have been deploring foreigners for thinking that the Hindi film industry has little original content to offer. While this way of thinking is slowly dispersing, another new issue is being raised: How can we prove ourselves to be truly original when we’re still using the term Bollywood casually?

Within the film fraternity, this term is disliked as well. Hindi film industry appealed more to these actors and actresses. The term Bollywood was coined initially by the Western media to refer to Hindi cinema. That is one of the main reasons both Om Puri and Naseerudin Shah find it humiliating and derogatory.

Piggy Chops is in agreement. “I don’t like the term Bollywood. Hindi film industry sounds so much more sensible and sensitive.” Dino Morea also concurs, saying, “I don’t think we need to copy Hollywood.”

Of course, an important fact to keep in mind as we explore this is that Bollywood does not refer to the entire Indian film industry. In fact, it only refers to those films whose central language is Hindi (It would be more accurate to call it Hindustani, as the language spoken now in movies is a fusion of Hindi and Urdu). Other parts of the Indian film industry too have their own derivates of Hollywood. For example, Tollywood refers to the Telugu film industry, or sometimes to the Kannada-based Bengali film industry.

Shilpa Shetty is vehemently against the use of the term as well. At one point, she exclaimed, “Don’t call it Bollywood, I would kill you if you do that. It’s like calling French cinema Follywood!”

Despite the fact that so many people dislike the use of the term, there is no denying its popularity. Anybody in the streets can tell you what Bollywood is and in casual conversation, people will more likely be saying Bolywood than Hindi film industry. Actors and actresses, for all that they say, still eagerly participate in award functions and shows overseas that use Bollywood in their title. For example, ‘Bollywood Nights’ or ‘Bollywood World Tour.’

And the last indisputable piece of evidence that signifies its popularity? The word was added into the Oxford-English Dictionary in 2003. Amitabh Bachchan, for one, readily accepted this. He said, “It has been perhaps very judiciously put into the dictionary. So, it will stay with us for eternity.”

There are some, however, who pay no heed to it. “I suppose people mind it but it’s just a name. It doesn’t really matter,” actor Manisha Koirala said nonchalantly.

Doesn’t it? Even though it has stuck around for so long, it’s up to us to raise our voices. Like Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Quoting from a film of the Hindi film industry: “There are two types of people in the world: those who watch things happening and let them happen…and those who take the responsibility to change them.” {Rang de Basanti, idiots!}

What it all comes down to is this: If you think ‘whatever, it’s just a name’, well then everything’s just dandy for you isn’t it? However, if you feel that it undermines an integral part of our cinema…well then you better do something about it!

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