Memorable songs from films of love and devotion (1939–1959)
A contraction of the Hindi Bombay (now Mumbai), the vibrant heart of the Indian film industry, and Californian Hollywood, the name “Bollywood” appeared in the writings of journalists in the 1970s, although no one could claim authorship. However, Indian cinema made its presence felt long before the huge success of Bollywood. As early as 1913, the silent film Raja Harishchandra (King Harishchandra), often referred to as the first Indian feature film in history, laid the foundations for an industry that would flourish with the arrival of talkies. The great leap forward came, to be precise, with the 1931 release of Alam Ara (Light of the World), which paved the way for the singing genre. This was when the Bollywood phenomenon really started. When Wazir Mohammed Khan sang the title track of this Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) production, De Khuda Ke Naam Pyare (In the Name of God), in the guise of a fakir, he did not know that he was pioneering one of the most revered (and reviled) musical forms in the subcontinent.
This collection had to delve into the musical sources of these film songs, which over time have become a predominant feature of wider Indian culture. Several titles in "Nostalgic Bollywood" refer to devotional songs and to the ancestral heritage of the Indian theatrical tradition, from ramila, a re-enactment of the life of Ram, the mythical king and avatar of the god Vishnu, to nautanki, a North Indian folk opera derived from romantic, historical or mythological tales, and tamasha, a Marathi dramatic genre from Maharashtra (central-western India) accompanied by song and dance.