Bollywood - How To Improvise

Bollywood"This love is so alive it will grow feet and dance."
—Typical Bollywood lyric


Highly musical, colorful cinema from India recalling the heyday of Hollywood musicals but with a definite Indian slant.


  • Music, singing and dancing whenever possible.
  • Melodramatic.
  • Usually romantic, often about impossible love.
  • Everything very colorful. Especially the costumes.
  • Out of sync sound: Singing and dialog recorded separately.


WhereIndia, usually. However during songs, the actors can mysteriously appear in other places around the world where they ski, swim, and climb mountains.
When Mostly the present. But can be historical.
WhoCentral characters:
Pretty girl from a higher class whose parents have arranged for her to marry someone rich and powerful.
Boy from poor background, but honest (he’ll be seen giving his only meal of the day to a street urchin or risking his own life to save someone else). Sometimes there is a third character to create a love triangle. Family is very important. Her mother is often strict, the father being more lenient and understanding.
Criminals, kidnappers, scheming politicians; siblings separated by fate. Often a comical servant who is on the girl’s side.
Backing dancers.
WhatArranged marriages; falling in love; girl throwing a tantrum on her bed; weddings; sometimes fighting and magic.
Singing: the girl sings in a shrill voice and even the guys can sing high-pitched. Singing is usually done by specialist performers so the actors lip-sync.
Dancing: Dancing is a mix of traditional Indian and modern including Western pop and musical influences. The girl shakes her hips, the guy acts mesmerized, beating his heart or pretending to be electrocuted. The girl teases him with her scarf. During the song, the actors can suddenly change costume as well as location. Large numbers of backing dancers dance in formation.
No kissing (respectable actresses refuse to kiss on screen ˛). Actors will lean towards each other and film cuts to a song set somewhere else. However, the actresses will often dress and dance sexily.

Examples (from Amazon)

Also known as:

Indian Cinema