Celebrating 100 years of Bollywood!

This year Bollywood celebrates its centenary, so we've been taking a look at it's great relationship with the Midlands.

Celebrating 100 years of Bollywood!

The industry is the largest in the world producing on average a 1000 films a year, that's more than Hollywood.

The Midlands in particular has a very strong link with the industry. Some of our famous landmarks have even made it into recent movies, although admittedly, they aren't the most glamorous locations in the films!.

In 2012, Bollywood fever took over the region when Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, starring legendary actor Dharmendra and his sons Sunny and Bobby Deol was filmed at locations all over the Midlands.

Stafford Hall
Lutterworth's Stanford Hall and its grounds were transformed into a Bollywood set in 2012 Credit: Stanford Hall

Extravagant song and dance numbers, including a wedding scene was shot on the grounds of Lutterworth’s Stanford Hall.

Many scenes were also shot in Birmingham, including the canal, Centenary Square, Gatecrasher and Brindleyplace with the NEC's Atrium being transformed into an airport for one scene.

Bollywood NEC
The NEC's atrium was transformed into an airport terminal for Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 Credit: Matt Betteridge

Leicester University and the Space Museum also featured, using hundreds of students from the surrounding areas to be extras.

2011's Patiala House, starring Akshay Kumar and Anushka Sharma, filmed their cricket scenes at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.

Teri Meri Kahaani (2010), starring Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, was filmed on the University of Nottingham campus.

Jaswant Sidhu
Jaswant Sidhu set up the Eastern Film Society in Wolverhampton

So when did Bollywood first come over to the Midlands? Well, in the 50s, first generation Asian families didn’t have much entertainment other than their local pub on a Saturday.

This prompted Jaswant Sidhu, from Wolverhampton to set up the Eastern Film Society. The main purpose was to screen films; however, the money raised was used to help teach English to Indian immigrants.

The trend for Indian cinema had started though and its popularity continued to grow up and down the country. People travelled from everywhere just to watch the films. They loved the references to their own culture, and how it was made accessible for the younger generations. 

Over the last few years, around a dozen films have been set in the Midlands. It may not be as cheap as India but directors love the mix of stately homes, countryside, built-up areas and industrial settings.

Our Bollywood Factfile:

  • Bollywood is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘a name for the Indian popular film industry, based in Mumbai (Bombay)’. It’s a blend of the words Bombay and Hollywood.
  • In 1913 Raja Harishchandra, was first screened in India and was a silent feature film.
  • The longest on-screen kiss, which was four minutes long, was in a film called Karma in 1933 which starred Devika Rani and her husband Himanshu Rai.
  • The first Indian colour film was Kisan Kanya in 1937.
  • In 1952 Indian censors banned the on-screen kiss. Filmmakers resorted to symbolism to show intimacy- running around trees was commonly seen in 1950s and 60s films.
  • Mother India released in 1957 is thought to be one of the most important films in the industry's history and is hailed as "the story of India".
  • The 70s saw Bollywood hugely influenced by their English counterparts and inspired western style action movies. The most famous example is Sholay (1975), which starred legends Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra. It was so popular it ran for five years in Mumbai’s Minerva Theatre.
  • Actress Zeena Amam was recognised in 1978 as Bollywood's first sex symbol.
Amitabh Bachchan Waxwork
Amitabh Bachchan was the first Indian Actor to get his own Waxwork
  • In 2000 Amitabh Bachchan became the first Indian actor to have his own waxwork made by Madame Tussauds.
  • Lagaan (2001) has the most number of British actors known in a Bollywood film. Among them, Shropshire-born Paul Blackthorne, who also starred in Holby City, Peak Practice and, American drama Arrow. Blackthorne spent six months learning Hindi before filming.
  • In 2004, Bride and Prejudice, a Bollywood-style adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was released
  • Most recently Amitabh Bachchan starred in the 2013 release of The Great Gatsby, playing Meyer Wolfsheim
Great Gatsby
Amitabh Bachchan starred in the 2013 blockbuster The Great Gatsby alongside Leonardo DiCaprio

By Jody Ball

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