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Best of Bollywood

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Raja Harishchandra, by Dadasaheb Phalke, was the first silent feature film made in India.

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The first Indian sound film, Ardeshir Irani's Alam Ara (1931), was a major commercial success.

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Following India's independence, the period from the late 1940s to the 1960s is regarded by film historians as the "Golden Age" of Hindi cinema. Some of the most critically acclaimed Hindi films of all time were produced during this period. Examples include the Guru Dutt films Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)

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Also the Raj Kapoor films Awaara (1951) and Shree 420 (1955) are a part of the "Golden Age" of Hindi Cinema.These films expressed social themes mainly dealing with working-class urban life in India; Awaara presented the city as both a nightmare and a dream, while Pyaasa critiqued the unreality of city life.

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Some of the most famous epic films of Hindi cinema were also produced at the time, including Mehboob Khan's Mother India (1957), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

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Even K. Asif's Mughal-e-Azam, was included in this category.

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Madhumati (1958), directed by Bimal Roy and written by Ritwik Ghatak, popularized the theme of reincarnation in Western popular culture.

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While commercial Hindi cinema was thriving, the 1950s also saw the emergence of a new Parallel Cinema movement. Though the movement was mainly led by Bengali cinema, it also began gaining prominence in Hindi cinema. Early examples of Hindi films in this movement include Chetan Anand's Neecha Nagar (1946) and Bimal Roy's Two Acres of Land (1953).

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Ever since the social realist film Neecha Nagar won the Grand Prize at the first Cannes Film Festival, Hindi films were frequently in competition for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, with some of them winning major prizes at the festival.

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Guru Dutt is now regarded as one of the greatest Asian filmmakers of all time, alongside the more famous Indian Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray.

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The 1970s thus saw the rise of commercial cinema in the form of enduring films such as Sholay (1975), which solidified Amitabh Bachchan's position as a lead actor.

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Another important film from 1975 was Deewar, directed by Yash Chopra and written by Salim-Javed. A crime film pitting "a policeman against his brother, a gang leader based on real-life smuggler Haji Mastan", portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan, it was described as being “absolutely key to Indian cinema” by Danny Boyle.

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The most internationally acclaimed Hindi film of the 1980s was Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay! (1988), which won the Camera d'Or at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

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During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the pendulum swung back toward family-centric romantic musicals with the success of such films as Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994) and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), making stars out of a new generation of actors (such as Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan) and actresses (such as Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla and Kajol).

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This decade marked the entry of new performers in arthouse and independent films, some of which succeeded commercially, the most influential example being Satya (1998), directed by Ram Gopal Varma and written by Anurag Kashyap.

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The 2000s saw a growth in Bollywood's popularity in the world. This led the nation's filmmaking to new heights in terms of quality, cinematography and innovative story lines as well as technical advances in areas such as special effects, animation, and so on. Some of the largest production houses, among them Yash Raj Films and Dharma Productions were the producers of new modern films.

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The opening up of the overseas market, more Bollywood releases abroad and the explosion of multiplexes in big cities, led to wider box office successes in India and abroad, including Lagaan (2001), Devdas (2002), Koi... Mil Gaya (2003), Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Veer-Zaara (2004), Rang De Basanti (2006), Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006), Krrish (2006), Dhoom 2 (2006), Om Shanti Om (2007), Chak De India (2007), Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008), Ghajini (2008), 3 Idiots (2009), My Name is Khan (2010),Dabangg (2010) and The Dirty Picture delivering a new generation of popular actors (Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan) and actresses (Aishwarya Rai, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Vidya Balan), and keeping the popularity of actors of the previous decade.

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Among the mainstream films, Lagaan won the Audience Award at the Locarno International Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards, while Devdas and Rang De Basanti were both nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

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