The films it produces are mostly in Hindi. They are generally lively, energetic musicals. Bollywood films often have their own sense of internal logic and can be as surreal as any musical produced by American or European studios. The music is generally pre-recorded, sung by a core group of singers, with actors miming the words (known as playback singing). Generally, professional playback singers provide the voices but of late there's a trend of the actors singing for themselves, like Aamir Khan in Ghulam. Bollywood films are often engaging spectacles that tell timeless stories of love and turmoil.
Bollywood films usually feature caucasian looking indians (Aryan as opposed to Dravidic), usually from the northern regions of India. The dancing usually involves very strong and quick body movements, and large groups of dancers.
During the period that Bollywood was not known outside of India and the various Indian communities, a lot of licences were probably used without permission.
Currently due to increased visibility and increasingly large audiences, some Bollywood films can have fairly large budgets, allowing them to use famous film sets such as Hatfield House and Blenheim Palace in the United Kingdom. In modern Bollywood films, location shooting is quite important and good sceneries are sought after. However, funding for Bollywood films remains hit-and-miss. There are no large studios which fund films. Often funding comes from private distributors. In 2001 the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's national police agency, seized all prints of Chori Chori Chupke Chupke after the movie was found to be funded by members of the Mumbai underworld.
Another problem facing Bollywood is piracy of its films. Often pirated DVDss arrive before the print for the picture.
Noted playback singers in Bollywood films:
- Shabana Azmi
- Amitabh Bachchan
- Guru Dutt
- Raj Kapoor
- Rajesh Khanna
- Meena Kumari
- Kishore Kumar
- Dilip Kumar
- Hema Malini
- Abhishek Bachchan
- Bipasha Basu
- Mahima Choudhary
- Ajay Devgan
- Madhuri Dixit
- Sunny Deol
- Sanjay Dutt
- Anil Kapoor
- Kareena Kapoor
- Karisma Kapoor
- Aamir Khan
- Shahrukh Khan
- Salman Khan
- Manisha Koirala
- Akshay Khana
- Urmila Matondkar
- Rani Muhkerjee
- Vivek Oberoi
- Aishwariya Rai
- Hrithik Roshan
- Naseeruddin Shah
- Jackie Shroff
- Preity Zinta
- Koi... Mil Gaya (2003): A mentally disabled young man (Hrithik Roshan) finds strength and friendship from a visitor out of this world.
- Devdas (2002): Based on a classic Bengali novel about Devdas(Shahrukh Khan), a young man caught between two woman. One whom he could never love, Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit), a prostitute, and one whom he could never stop loving, his childhood friend Paro (Aishwariya Rai).
- Laagan (2001): Indian villagers struggle to defeat a cruel British District Officer and free themselves from land tax by organizing a cricket team and taking on the British.
- Dil Chahta Hai (2001): The film is about three distinct characters, Akash (Aamir Khan), Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) and Siddharth (Akshaye Khanna), their individual relationships and the effect that these relationships have on them.
- Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Ghum (2001): Family drama starring Amitabh Bachchan as the family patriarch who disowns his son (Shah Rukh Khan) for marrying a girl (Kajol) from a poor neighborhood, and how his brother (Hrithik Roshan) attempts to bring the family together again.
- Taal (1999): It is the story of Mansi (Aishwarya Rai) a country girl who leads a simple life with her folk-singing dad in remote Himachal Pradesh, until Manav (Akshaye Khanna) comes along. A wealthy businessman, he has come to buy the land where they live, but he returns to the city with his eyes sparkling for Mansi. However, the inevitable family obstacles get in the way, and when Mansi meets street-smart music composer Vikrant (Anil Kapoor) we have a full-blown love triangle on our hands.
- Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999): The half-Indian, half-Italian Sameer (Salman Khan) comes to India to learn classical music from Darbar (Vikram Gokhale) and falls for Darbar's daughter, Nandini (Aishwarya Rai).
- Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998): The story of two best friends, Rahul (Shahrukh Khan) and Anjali (Kajol), wose entire relationship changes when Tina (Rani Mukherjee) comes into their lives.
- Dil To Pagal Hai (1997):
- Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge(1995): Raj (Shahrukh Khan) and Simran (Kajol) unexpectedly fall in love on a trip across Europe. However, Raj must win over the hearts' of Simran's family members if he is to win Simran's hand in marriage.
- ''Sholay (1975): The film narrates the story of an ex-cop Thakur Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar) who hires two jail birds (Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra) to eradicate a town and neighbouring villages of the menace of Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan) and his band of dreaded dacoits. Based on American sphagetti westerns, it became the most succesfful flim in Indian flim history.
- Teesril Manzil (1966): When Rupa falls from the third-floor window of her hotel the verdict is recorded as suicide, but her sister Sunita (Asha Parekh) smells a rat and travels to Mussoorie to find out more. On the train going up she encounters boisterous drummer Rocky (Shammi Kapoor) - unaware that he was Rupa's lover, and despite the fact that they argue constantly, she falls for him. So, is Rocky the killer? ...