RIP ‘Bollywood’ — it’s the Hindi film industry, argue filmmakers

After director Anubhav Sinha tweeted that he is ‘resigning’ from Bollywood, he later clarified that he isn’t stopping from making films altogether, and other makers like Hansal Mehta and Sudhir Mishra also tweeted that they are part of the ‘Indian/ Hindi film industry’ instead. We talk to more filmmakers about their take on term ‘Bollywood’.
Filmmakers Anubhav Sinha and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee Shyam Benegal.
Filmmakers Anubhav Sinha and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee Shyam Benegal.
Updated on Jul 27, 2020 05:42 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRishabh Suri, New Delhi

“ENOUGH!!! I hereby resign from Bollywood. Whatever the f**k that means.” This one tweet by filmmaker Anubhav Sinha was enough to send social media into a tizzy. He also added (Not Bollywood_ to his Twitter profile name.

While most thought that he’s actually going to stop making films altogether, the 55-year-old later clarified, “Bollywood was”, “Hindi films will”, signifying that he’s dissociating himself from the term, not the industry.

Echoing the sentiment were filmmakers Sudhir Mishra and Hansal Mehta. While Mishra tweeted: “What’s Bollywood?I came 2be partof Cinema inspired by Satyajit Ray ,Raj Kapoor…”, Mehta’s post read: “Chhod diya. It never existed in the first place.”


Mehta tells us that the term ‘Bollywood’ is a ‘very derogatory’ term for Hindi cinema. “People keep calling it ‘Bollywood’, it doesn’t exist. We’re all part of Indian cinema, Bollywood is borrowed from West. Do we call French cinema Follywood? Bollywood unfortunately, has become a punching bag for trolls. Everything bad comes from Bollywood, everything good comes from our politicians,” says the 52-year-old. 

Mishra, who helmed films such as Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003) and Khoya Khoya Chand (2007), says the term is an insult for the over 100-year-old industry.

“Great filmmakers like Bimal Roy and Guru Dutt, were they from Bollywood? They were from the Indian film industry. We want to make films and cinema belonging to all, whether it’s a guy living in Jabalpur or Jamshedpur, Chennai or Kerala, cinema today belongs to everybody. We are going back to the original intent of why we came here. To hell with anyone who thinks they own the business, or they are oh so French, sophisticated, with fancy apartments. We all make films, some make big, some make small ones, what’s wrong?,” he asks.


Even veterans feel that the term ‘Bollywood’ makes ‘no sense’. We are told the same by acclaimed director Shyam Benegal, who was conferred with the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke award in 2005.

He says that he has in fact always believed in what other directors are saying now. “Bollywood is a term copied from Hollywood. The Indian film industry is the largest in the world. Why should we take a terminology that belongs to the industry of some other country? Whoever used it must have thought very clever idea, to use it for Indian films. We have several film industries in the country, each language has it’s own,” tells us the 85-year-old.

Producer Pritish Nandy feels it is purely a ‘semantic issue’ — calling yourself Hindi film industry or Bollywood is a matter of choice. But, he adds, “I think Bollywood itself is not exactly a nice term, because it’s derivated from Hollywood. It has been in use for many years, but to me it never sounded derogatory, However, I think the main issue, they’re saying, is they’re distancing themselves from the culture of what is known as Bollywood, a culture run by elitist, nepotistic filmmakers and their families for many years now.” 

He also says that it’s a culture “where newcomers are badly treated, where there is rampant favouritism”. This is why Nandy feels people want to distance themselves, “it’s not entirely a professional environment, it’s never been one.”

Onir, who has directed films such as My Brother... Nikhil (2005) and I Am (2011) says that even in the past, those who weren’t associated with mainstream cinema didn’t refer to themselves as being part of Bollywood.

“It’s not something invented now, people like Shyam Benegal and Ketan Mehta have always preferred the ‘Hindi’ or ‘Indian film’ industry. People like Sudhir too have always claimed and been part of more independent cinema than Bollywood. Personally, I feel the kind of work I have done is actually much closer to mainstream Hindi cinema than art house because of the theme, and not style. I personally don’t like the word Bollywood, not because of anything else than it sounds so much like Hollywood,” he says.

Indian cinema is huge, tells us Anurag Basu. “Calling ourselves Bollywood is a feudal mindset, we have our own identity. We are Indian cinema, where films are made in more than 15 languages. There’s no film industry like us. We should not degrade by calling ourselves Bollywood. When I go to International film festivals, I feel ashamed when we are called Bollywood. There is Korean cinema, French cinema, Italian cinema... why not Indian cinema?,” questions the Barfi! (2012) director.

Interact with the author on Twitter/ @RishabhSuri02

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