Ever Wondered How ‘Bollywood’ Got Its Name? We Have It Decoded For You!

Updated on 12 Jul, 2017 at 8:24 pm


Bollywood is the only thing after cricket which is loved by all Indians. For over 10 decades, Bollywood movies have remained an essential part and parcel of our lives. In fact, for some, the word itself is a means of living and survival. The essence of the term is wide enough to be considered and known as what we call ‘the entertainment’.


A still from Sholay, one of the greatest Bollywood films ever made. india.com

Many of us are die-hard fans of Bollywood movies, however, only some of us are perhaps aware of the word’s origin. So from where did the word ‘Bollywood’ come from? Was it an Indian adaptation of Hollywood? Well, we have the mystery decoded for you today!


The Hollywood sign on Hollywood hills in Los Angeles, California. CNN

For people, the term ‘Bollywood’ refers to Hindi cinema as a whole. The name is a portmanteau of Bombay (the former name for Mumbai) and Hollywood, which is also known as the center for the American film industry. But wait! Bollywood was not actually inspired by Hollywood.



Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in DDLJ poster. This film remains one of the most famous romantic movies in Indian cinema history. quintype-01.imgix.net

The nomenclature was actually inspired by ‘Tollywood’, the name by which the cinema of West Bengal is known as.

Tollywood is known to be the earliest Hollywood-inspired name in India. It was coined after Tollygunge, a posh locality in South Kolkata and the center of Bengali cinema. The word established a precedent for other film industries which eventually lead to the origin of Bollywood.


Prosenjit (right), one of the biggest stars of Tollywood, with Arpita at a film set. IndiaBlooms.com

Today, even Telugu cinema industry calls itself Tollywood, but the original Tollywood remains in West Bengal.


In the 1970s, India took over the US as the world’s largest film producer. Over the years, the credit for the term Bollywood has been claimed by many people, including the lyricist, filmmaker and scholar Amit Khanna, and journalist Bevinda Collaco. The journey of the most vibrant film industry has been an incredible one since the release of the first Bollywood film ‘Raja Harishchandra’ to ‘Dangal’, which has earned over Rs.2,000 crores globally.

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