Current General Studies Magazine: "Popular Media" October 2014

Current General Studies Magazine (October 2014)

General Studies - I: Art and Culture Based Article (Popular Media)

Cinema: Bollywood is the informal name given to the popular Mumbai-based film industry in India. Bollywood and the other major cinematic hubs (Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Bhojpuri, etc.) constitute the broader Indian film industry, whose output is considered to be the largest in the world in terms of number of films produced and, possibly, number of tickets sold.

Bollywood films are usually musicals, though not in the Western sense of the word. Indian movies have a regular plot, with songs and dances interspersed to add to the entertainment value of the movie. Few movies are made without at least one song-and-dance number. Indian audiences expect full value for their money; they want songs and dances, love interest, comedy and dare-devil thrills, all mixed up in a three hour long extravaganza with intermission.

Such movies are called masala movies, after the Indian spice mixture masala. Like masala, these movies are a mixture of many things. Approximately, 95% of Bollywood movies are this type of movie, because Indians enjoy this type of movie very much. Plots tend to be melodramatic. They frequently employ formulaic ingredients such as star-crossed lovers and angry parents, corrupt politicians, kidnappers, conniving villains, courtesans with hearts of gold, long-lost relatives, and siblings separated by fate, dramatic reversals of fortune and convenient coincidences and even movies with tri-polar changes that can turn a movie and its plot upside down. Bollywood is becoming increasingly popular in other countries including several places in Europe and the U.S. Some Bollywood actors have adapted to more Hollywood-type films in movies like ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Bollywood’s fame is increasing internationally as more and more people across the globe are exposed to its style.

Besides the regular masala film, India has also produced many critically acclaimed cinema-makers like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Ram Gopal Varma, Mani Ratnam, G. Aravindan, Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihlani, etc. In fact, with the opening up of the economy in the recent years and consequent exposure to world cinema, audience tastes have been changing. Indian commercial movies have also started following authentic, real world themes with a lower amount of melodrama and some do not even contain songs. In addition, multiplexes have mushroomed in most cities, changing the revenue patterns and allowing film makers greater liberty and scope for executing bold and innovative ideas which would not have been possible even a decade ago.

Television: Indian television started off in 1959 in New Delhi with tests for educational telecasts. Doordarshan was established on 15 September, 1976. Indian small screen programming started off in the early 1980s. At that time there was only one national channel Doordarshan, which was government owned. The Ramayana and Mahabharata were some among the’popular television serials produced. By the late 1980s, more and more people started to own television sets. Though there was a single channel, television programming had reached saturation. Hence the government opened up another channel which had part national programming and part regional. This channel was known as DD 2 later DD Metro. Both channels were broadcasted terrestrially.

In l 994, the government liberated its markets, opening them up to cable, television. Since then, there has been a spurt in the number of channels available. Today/Indian silver screen is a huge industry by itself and has thousands of programmes in all the states of India. The small screen has produced numerous celebrities of their own kind some even attaining national fame. TV soaps are extremely popular with housewives as well as working women and even men of all kinds. Some small time actors have made it big in Bollywood. Indian TV has evolved to be similar to Western TV, including stations such as Cartoon Network, Nikelodeon and Indian MTV. Today DD has 24 channels including 4 national, 1 international channel and 11 Regional Language channels and 8 State Network Service. k also has Direct to Home (DTH).

Radio: Radio Broadcasting started in India in the early 1920’s. The first programme was broadcast in 1923 by the Radio Club of Bombay. This was followed by netting up Broadcasting Services in 1927 with two privately-owned transmitters at Mumbai and Kolkata. These were nationalised in 1930 and operated under the ~ame “Indian Broadcasting Service” until 1936, when it •vas renamed All India Radio (AIR). Although officially renamed again to Akashwani in 1957, it is still popularly known as All India Radio. All India Radio is a division of Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India), an autonomous corporation of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. It is the sister -ervice of Prasar Bharati’s Doordarshan, the national -:levision broadcaster. News Service Division functions Dund the clock in both Indian and foreign language. There are 44 regional news units. External Service Division Broadcasts in 27 languages 16 of them foreign and 11 Indian. Presently there are 223 radio stations in the country.


  1. What do you mean by popular media?

  2. Do you think popular media is helpful in cultural evolution of culture?

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