Unlike Hollywood movies, Bollywood movies are quite different, because they're usually mixed with masala i.e dance, song and love sequences. This is the case in most films which are released in various languages in India.

Can someone explain, Why do Bollywood movies have song and dance sequences?

  • 8
    For some reason musicals are a popular format and make money over there. This was the case in North America in the 40's and 50's. May 22, 2012 at 4:01
  • You can see "Slumdog Millionaire" it's not pure bollywood movie but it has songs and dance, It has oscars too so not bollywood but now it's in hollywood too.
    – KuldipMCA
    Mar 1, 2013 at 10:29

4 Answers 4


There may be quite a few reasons for this

  • There are not many bands that perform music on a large scale, at least not till recently
  • Peer Pressure, everybody is doing it
  • Pressure from Producers / Distributors
  • If Songs become a huge hit and even if the movie is not that great it can still fetch the producers and distributors enough money (Eg The movie 3).
  • The legacy left over from the 1950s, it just refuses to go away .
  • 3
    Would like to add one more : The Indian society itself. When they have a song for each and every occasion you can not ignore that effect. Most of the film producers of 50s and almost all of the film producers of 30s came from a background of drama and music companies of that time, Having songs in them was necessary and while you are having a song on stage and screen you have to show something like dance....
    – Prasham
    Sep 25, 2012 at 6:05
  • @Prasham In fact that sounds like a very interresting additional answer.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 17, 2013 at 7:43
  • Can you elaborate on "The legacy left over from the 1950s"?
    – sashoalm
    Feb 3, 2015 at 14:55

Musicals from Hollywood are popular. They aren't as popular as they were in the 40s, 50s, and into the 60s, but they do still exist.

Some recent examples, just off the top of my head:

And of course, many children's movies have musical numbers, song, and dance, like the Shrek series, and most animated Disney movies I've seen.

Of course it's still true that musicals from Hollywood aren't as popular as those from Bollywood. But that's mainly the result of what sells in the target markets for each country.

Musicals do sell in the U.S. (or they wouldn't keep making them), but they don't sell as well as they do in Indian markets.

  • You're right, in the list you mentioned above, story line is explained to audience in terms of music but this is not the case in Indian movies, Songs and dance is only a part of the movie but not the whole movie itself. In average, most of the movies in India has 6 songs in it with duration 5-6 minutes for each song. Good answer. Feb 5, 2015 at 5:59

Historical, social and psychological

In my opinion, Bollywood films are not just simple company products. Based on the local Indian culture, film and the way that people appear in it is like a part of their life. According to a 2005 world bank estimate, 41.6% of the total Indian population falls below the international poverty line of US$ 1.25 a day (PPP, in nominal terms 21.6 a day in urban areas and 14.3 in rural areas).

It can be like a sweet dream for them: when they do not have that kind of entertainment in their reality, they escape to the film world and (based on Freud's ideas) they enjoy gazing at films like daily life.

It has happened to all of us: we have some sweet dreams that we could not find in reality so we send the dream to our unconscious mind and live with it or hide it. In sociological terms, it is a two-way interaction between Hindi films and Indian taste. This method of filmmaking has quite a long history and when we search in Hinduism history, we can find singing and dancing in their culture.

All this is the best reason and it is better to advertise in a family-acceptable film style which they produce, it can be an attractive point.

From a cinematic viewpoint, it is easier to think about dance and song in different parts than creating a (Appeal of Character style) of film.

  • Very true point to point out. Even Indian producers accept the facts that they want to share something with their viewers which they can only imagine, but cant happen to their own lives.
    – Mistu4u
    Dec 21, 2012 at 11:01

Apart from being a popular format to make films, songs are included nowadays for primarily two reasons:

Film promotion Go to any music channel and you will see endless repeats of songs mostly from upcoming films. Same goes for radio. If my film does not have songs, then I cannot use this medium of promotion at all.

Hence even films which don't warrant a song, will have an item number somewhere or towards the end of the film.

Alternate source of revenue If the music of the film is good, many films will recover a substantial cost of production by selling the music rights. This gives the producers a cushion to minimize their losses if the film doesn't do well - which happens to a number of films.

  • 3
    Could you give a strong reason for "why don't other film industry use the strategic as you have mentioned above?" May 25, 2012 at 15:17
  • @VijinPaulraj no I can't. I haven't researched other film industries. I thought the question was specific to Bollywood and the fact whether other industries have or do not have songs in them has no relevance to why Bollywood has them. Other industries could also have songs - but for entirely different reasons.
    – saurabhj
    Feb 7, 2015 at 16:15
  • (...) the fact whether other industries have or do not have songs in them has no relevance to why Bollywood has them [citation needed]
    – xDaizu
    Mar 20, 2017 at 12:08

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