Bollywood songs, along with dance, are a characteristic motif of Hindi cinema, which gives it enduring popular appeal, cultural value and context.
Hindi film songs form a predominant component of Indian pop music, and derive its inspiration from both classical and modern sources. Hindi film songs are now firmly embedded in North India's popular culture and routinely encountered in North India. Though Hindi films routinely contain many songs and some dance routines, they are not musicals in the Western theatrical sense; the music-song-dance aspect is an integral feature of the genre akin to plot, dialogue and other parameters.
In a film, music, both in itself and accompanied with dance, has been used for many purposes including "heightening a situation, accentuating a mood, commenting on theme and action, providing relief and serving as interior monologue."
Hindi film songs are present in Hindi cinema right from the first sound film Alam Ara (1931) by Ardeshir Irani, which featured seven songs. This was closely followed by Shirheen Farhad (1931) by Jamshedji Framji Madan, also by Madan, which had as many as 42 song sequences strung together in the manner of an opera, and later by Indra Sabha which had as many as 69 song sequences. However, the practice subsided and subsequent films usually featured between six to ten songs in each production.
For over five decades, these songs formed the staple of popular music in South Asia and along with Hindi films, were an important cultural export to most countries around Asia and wherever the Indian diaspora had spread.
But Indian cinema, with its characteristic film music, has not only spread all over Indian society, but also been on the forefront of the spread of India's culture around the world.
The spread was galvanised by the advent of cheap plastic tape cassettes, which were produced in the millions, till the industry crashed in 2000. Even today Hindi film songs are available on radio, on television, as live music by performers, and on media, both old and new such as cassette tapes, compact disks and DVDs and are easily available, both legally and illegally, on the Internet.
In Greece the genre of indoprepi sprang from Hindi film music while in Indonesia dangdut singers like Ellya Khadam, Rhoma Irama and Mansyur S., have reworked Hindi songs for Indonesian audiences. In France, the band « Les Rita Mitsouko » used Bollywood influences in their music videos, and French singer Pascal of Bollywood popularised filmi music by covering songs such as "Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana". In Nigeria bandiri music - a combination of Sufi lyrics and Bollywood-style music - has become popular among Hausa youth. Hindi film music has also been combined with local styles in the Caribbean to form "chutney music". In Britain, Hindi film songs are heard in restaurants and on radio channels dedicated to Asian music. The British dramatist Sudha Bhuchar converted a Hindi film hit Hum « Aapke Hain Koun..! » into a hit musical "Fourteen Songs" which was well received by the British audience. Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann acknowledged the influence of Hindi cinema on his production Moulin Rouge by the inclusion of a number "Hindi Sad Diamonds" based on the filmi song "Chamma Chamma" which was composed by Anu Malik.
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