Masala film

Masala films of Indian cinema are those that mix genres in one work. Typically these films freely mix action, comedy, romance, and drama or melodrama.[1] They also tend to be musicals that include songs filmed in picturesque locations. The genre is named after the masala, a mixture of spices in Indian cuisine.[2] According to The Hindu, masala is the most popular genre of Indian cinema.[3] Masala films have origins in 1970s Bollywood (Hindi) films, and are most common in Bollywood and South Indian films.


The masala film was pioneered in the early 1970s by filmmaker Nasir Hussain,[4] along with screenwriter duo Salim-Javed, consisting of Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar.[5] Yaadon Ki Baarat (1973), directed by Hussain and written by Salim-Javed, has been identified as the first masala film.[6][7] Salim-Javed went on to write more successful masala films in the 1970s and 1980s.[5] A landmark for the masala film genre was Amar Akbar Anthony (1977),[8][6] directed by Manmohan Desai and written by Kader Khan. Manmohan Desai went on to successfully exploit the genre in the 1970s and 1980s.

Sholay (1975), directed by Ramesh Sippy and written by Salim-Javed, also falls under the masala genre. It is sometimes called a "Curry Western", a play on the term Spaghetti Western. A more accurate genre label is the "Dacoit Western", as it combined the conventions of Indian dacoit films such as Mother India (1957) and Gunga Jumna (1961) with that of Spaghetti Westerns. Sholay spawned a subgenre of "Dacoit Western" films in the 1970s.[9]

Masala films helped establish many leading actors as superstars in the 1970s and 1980s, such as Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakrabarty, Rajnikanth, Chiranjeevi, Vishnuvardhan, and Ambareesh. Sridevi achieved stardom in her early Bollywood career with masala movies. Since the 1990s, actors such as Salman Khan (Salim Khan's son), Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Mahesh Babu, Pawan Kalyan, Allu Arjun, Jr. NTR, Ajith Kumar, Joseph Vijay,Dhanush, Sivakarthikeyan, Darshan, Puneeth Rajkumar, Dev, Dev and Jeet have all tasted success in this format.

This style is used very often in Hindi (Bollywood) and South Indian films, as it helps make them appeal to a broad variety of viewers. Famous masala filmmakers include David Dhawan, Anees Bazmee, Prabhu Deva and Farah Khan in Hindi cinema; Raja Chanda, Raj Chakraborty and Rabi Kinagi in Bengali cinema; S. S. Rajamouli, Puri Jagannath, Srinu Vaitla and Boyapati Srinu in Telugu cinema; S. Shankar, Hari, AR Murugadoss, K. V. Anand, N. Lingusamy and K. S. Ravikumar in Tamil cinema; and in Kannada cinema it was V. Somashekhar and K. S. R. Das in the 1970s; K. V. Raju, A. T. Raghu and Joe Simon in the 1980s; Om Prakash Rao and Shivamani in the 1990s; and Mahesh Babu, K. Madesha and A. Harsha in the 2000s.

Beyond Indian cinema, Danny Boyle's Academy Award–winning film Slumdog Millionaire (2008), based on Vikas Swarup's Boeke Prize winning novel Q & A (2005), has been described by several reviewers as a "masala" movie,[10] due to the way the film combines "familiar raw ingredients into a feverish masala"[11] and culminates in "the romantic leads finding each other."[12] This is due to the influence of the Bollywood masala genre on the film.[13][14][15][16] According to Loveleen Tandan, Slumdog Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy "studied Salim-Javed's kind of cinema minutely."[13] The influence of Bollywood masala films can also be seen in Western musical films. Baz Luhrmann stated that his successful musical film Moulin Rouge! (2001) was directly inspired by Bollywood musicals.[17]

Aamir Khan (Nasir Hussain's nephew), who debuted as a child actor in the first masala film Yaadon Ki Baraat,[18] has been credited for redefining and modernizing the masala film with his own distinct brand of socially conscious cinema in the early 21st century.[19] His films blur the distinction between commercial masala films and realistic parallel cinema, combining the entertainment and production values of the former with the believable narratives and strong messages of the latter, earning both commercial success and critical acclaim, in India and overseas.[20]


While the masala film genre originated from Bollywood films in the 1970s, there have been several earlier influences that have shaped its conventions. Examples of this influence include the techniques of a side story, back-story and story within a story. Indian popular films often have plots that branch off into sub-plots; such narrative dispersals can clearly be seen in the 1993 films Khalnayak and Gardish. The second influence was the impact of ancient Sanskrit drama, with its highly stylized nature and emphasis on spectacle, where music, dance and gesture combined "to create a vibrant artistic unit with dance and mime being central to the dramatic experience." Sanskrit dramas were known as natya, derived from the root word nrit (dance), characterizing them as spectacular dance-dramas which has continued in Indian cinema. The third influence was the traditional folk theatre of India, which became popular from around the 10th century with the decline of Sanskrit theatre. These regional traditions include the Jatra of Bengal, the Ramlila of Uttar Pradesh, and the Terukkuttu of Tamil Nadu. The fourth influence was Parsi theatre, which "blended realism and fantasy, music and dance, narrative and spectacle, earthy dialogue and ingenuity of stage presentation, integrating them into a dramatic discourse of melodrama. The Parsi plays contained crude humour, melodious songs and music, sensationalism and dazzling stagecraft."[21]

A major foreign influence was Hollywood, where musicals were popular from the 1920s to the 1950s, though Indian filmmakers departed from their Hollywood counterparts in several ways. "For example, the Hollywood musicals had as their plot the world of entertainment itself. Indian filmmakers, while enhancing the elements of fantasy so pervasive in Indian popular films, used song and music as a natural mode of articulation in a given situation in their films. There is a strong Indian tradition of narrating mythology, history, fairy stories and so on through song and dance." In addition, "whereas Hollywood filmmakers strove to conceal the constructed nature of their work so that the realistic narrative was wholly dominant, Indian filmmakers made no attempt to conceal the fact that what was shown on the screen was a creation, an illusion, a fiction. However, they demonstrated how this creation intersected with people's day to day lives in complex and interesting ways."[22]

During the 1970s, commercial Bollywood masala films drew from several foreign influences, including New Hollywood, Hong Kong martial arts cinema, and Italian exploitation films.[23] Following the success of Bruce Lee films such as Enter the Dragon in India,[24] Bollywood films starting with Deewaar (1975) up until the 1990s often incorporated fight sequences inspired by 1970s martial arts films from Hong Kong cinema.[25] Rather than following the Hollywood model, Bollywood action scenes tended to follow the Hong Kong model, with an emphasis on acrobatics and stunts, and combined kung fu (as it was perceived by Indians) with Indian martial arts (particularly Indian wrestling).[26]

See also


  1. ^ Tejaswini Gantiv (2004). Bollywood: a guidebook to popular Hindi cinema. Psychology Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-415-28854-5. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  2. ^ Nelmes, Jill. An introduction to film studies. p. 367.
  3. ^ *Masala v. Genre - The Hindu
  4. ^ "How film-maker Nasir Husain started the trend for Bollywood masala films". Hindustan Times. 30 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b Chaudhuri, Diptakirti (2015-10-01). Written by Salim-Javed: The Story of Hindi Cinema’s Greatest Screenwriters. Penguin UK. ISBN 9789352140084.
  6. ^ a b Kaushik Bhaumik, An Insightful Reading of Our Many Indian Identities, The Wire, 12/03/2016
  7. ^ Chaudhuri, Diptakirti (2015-10-01). Written by Salim-Javed: The Story of Hindi Cinema’s Greatest Screenwriters. Penguin UK. p. 58. ISBN 9789352140084.
  8. ^ Rachel Dwyer (2005). 100 Bollywood films. Lotus Collection, Roli Books. p. 14. ISBN 978-81-7436-433-3. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  9. ^ Teo, Stephen (2017). Eastern Westerns: Film and Genre Outside and Inside Hollywood. Taylor & Francis. p. 122. ISBN 9781317592266.
  10. ^ Sudhish Kamath (January 17, 2009). "The great Indian dream: Why 'Slumdog Millionaire', a film made in India, draws crowds in New York". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
  11. ^ Scott Foundas (November 12, 2008). "Fall Film: Slumdog Millionaire: Game Show Masala". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
  12. ^ Greg Quill (January 21, 2009). "Slumdog wins hearts here". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
  13. ^ a b "'Slumdog Millionaire' has an Indian co-director". The Hindu. January 11, 2009. Archived from the original on March 25, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  14. ^ "All you need to know about Slumdog Millionaire". The Independent. 21 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-21.
  15. ^ Lisa Tsering (January 29, 2009). "Slumdog Director Boyle Has 'Fingers Crossed' for Oscars". IndiaWest. Archived from the original on March 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
  16. ^ Anthony Kaufman (January 29, 2009). "DGA nominees borrow from the masters: Directors cite specific influences for their films". Variety. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
  17. ^ "Baz Luhrmann Talks Awards and 'Moulin Rouge'".
  18. ^ Cain, Rob (3 October 2017). "Aamir Khan's 'Secret Superstar' Could Be India's Next ₹1,000 Crore/$152M Box Office Hit". Forbes.
  19. ^ Rangan, Baradwaj (8 January 2017). "Masala redux". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Secret Superstar: A moving slice of life". The Asian Age. 2 November 2017.
  21. ^ K. Moti Gokulsing, K. Gokulsing, Wimal Dissanayake (2004). Indian Popular Cinema: A Narrative of Cultural Change. Trentham Books. p. 98. ISBN 1-85856-329-1.
  22. ^ K. Moti Gokulsing, K. Gokulsing, Wimal Dissanayake (2004). Indian Popular Cinema: A Narrative of Cultural Change. Trentham Books. pp. 98–99. ISBN 1-85856-329-1.
  23. ^ Stadtman, Todd (2015). Funky Bollywood: The Wild World of 1970s Indian Action Cinema. FAB Press. ISBN 9781903254776.
  24. ^ Khalid Mohammed (September 15, 1979). "Bruce Lee storms Bombay once again with Return Of The Dragon". India Today. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  25. ^ Heide, William Van der (2002). Malaysian Cinema, Asian Film: Border Crossings and National Cultures. Amsterdam University Press. ISBN 9789053565803.
  26. ^ Morris, Meaghan; Li, Siu Leung; Chan, Stephen Ching-kiu (2005). Hong Kong Connections: Transnational Imagination in Action Cinema. Hong Kong University Press. p. 149. ISBN 9781932643190.

Baladur (Telugu: బలాదూర్), is a 2008 Telugu action masala film directed by K. R. Udhayashankar. Ravi Teja plays the lead role while Krishna, Anushka Shetty, Chandra Mohan, Pradeep Rawat, Sunil and Suman Setty play supporting roles. K. M. Radha Krishnan was the music director, B. Balamurugan handled cinematography and the movie was edited by Marthand K. Venkatesh. The film released on 15 August 2008. The film was later dubbed in Hindi as Dhamkee in 2011. The film is remade into Oriya as Mu Kana Ete Kharap with Anubhav Mohanty.

Garam Masala (disambiguation)

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices common in North Indian and other South Asian cuisines.

Garam Masala may also refer to several Indian comedy films:

Garam Masala (1972 film) (गरम मसाला), Hindi comedy film directed by Aspi Irani

Garam Masala (2005 film), Hindi comedy film directed by Priyadarshan

Masala (2013 film), sometimes also mentioned as Garam Masala (2013), Telugu comedy film directed by K. Vijaya Bhaskar

Himmatwala (1983 film)

Himmatwala (lit. A Brave Man) is a 1983 Indian masala film produced by G.A. Sheshagiri Rao under the Padmalaya Studios banner, presented by Krishna and directed by K. Raghavendra Rao. It stars Sridevi, Jeetendra in the lead roles and music composed by Bappi Lahri. The film is a remake of the Telugu film Ooruki Monagadu (1981).. The film proved to be a breakthrough for Sridevi in Bollywood and launched her to stardom. Himmatwala on release was a giant commercial success, grossing ₹50 million, becoming the highest grossing Indian film of 1983 as well as one of the ten highest grossing Indian film of 1980s.

Idhaya Thirudan

Idhaya Thirudan (Tamil: இதயத்திருடன்; English: Heart Thief) is a 2006 Tamil romantic masala film written and directed by Saran and starring Jayam Ravi and Kamna Jethmalani. It was Jayam Ravi’s fifth film but was labelled his worst of the five. The soundtrack was composed by Bharadwaj.This movie plot is inspired from manikandan - deepika ramesh love story. It was released on 9 February 2006. The heroine debutant, Kamna Jethmalani, is the granddaughter of a late businessman Shyam Jethmalani. Scenes were shot in Turkey and Northern Cyprus.


Kalakalappu (pronunciation ) (English: Sociability) is a 2012 Indian Tamil comedy film co-written co-produced and directed by Sundar C. and produced by his wife Kushboo Sundar. It features Vimal, Shiva, Anjali, Oviya and Santhanam in lead roles and music composed by Vijay Ebenezer. It was originally titled Masala Cafe, but was later renamed to Kalakalappu. The film released on 11 May 2012. The film is 25th directorial venture for Sundar C..The film was remade in Telugu as Jump Jilani starring Allari Naresh. In 2018, the film later went into the spiritual successor Kalakalappu 2. The movie is loosely based on the 2009 German comedy Soul Kitchen.

Kochi Rajavu

Kochi Rajavu (translated as King of Kochi) is a 2005 Malayalam-language Masala film, directed by Johny Antony. It stars Dileep, Kavya Madhavan & Rambha.


Kuthu (English: Punch) is an Indian 2004 Tamil language masala film directed by A. Venkatesh. It starring Silambarasan and Divya Spandana in the lead roles. It is a remake of the Telugu film Dil starring Nitin and Neha Bamb. The music was composed by Srikanth Deva. It was released on 2 April 2004 and was a Hit at the box office.

Loafer (1996 film)

Loafer is a 1996 Indian Bollywood masala film directed by David Dhawan and produced by Surinder Kapoor and Boney Kapoor. It stars Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla in pivotal roles. The film was a remake of the superhit Telugu film titled Assembly Rowdy, (1991) starring Divya Bharti and Mohan Babu, which itself was a remake of the 1990 Tamil film Velai Kidaichuduchu.

Mahaprabhu (film)

Mahaprabhu is a 1996 Tamil action masala film directed by A. Venkatesh, making his directorial debut. The film features R. Sarathkumar, Sukanya and Vineetha in lead roles. The film, produced by Janaki Devi, had musical score by Deva and was released on 26 January 1996.


Majaa is a 2006 Tamil action masala film directed by Shafi, starring Vikram, Asin, Vadivelu, Pasupathy, Anu Prabhakar, Vijayakumar, Manivannan, Sindhu Tolani, Murali and Biju Menon. The music is composed by Vidyasagar. It tells the story of two adopted children changing from their old, mischievous ways of life. The film is a remake of Shafi's own Malayalam film Thommanum Makkalum. The movie was dubbed in Telugu with the same title. The movie was later dubbed into Hindi as " Dada No. 1" by Cinecurry and Royal Film Company.


Mawaali (English: Rogue) is a 1983 Indian masala film, produced by G. Hanumantha Rao by Padmalaya Studios banner, presented by Krishna and directed by K. Bapaiah. The film stars Jeetendra, Sridevi, Jaya Prada in the lead roles and music composed by Bappi Lahiri. The film is a remake of Telugu movie Chuttalunnaru Jagratha (1980), starring Krishna, Sridevi, which was later remade in Tamil as Pokkiri Raja (1982) which starred Rajnikanth, Sridevi. Sridevi has replicated her role in Telugu and Tamil adapataions, while Jayaprada has reprised Sridevi's role in Hindi adaptation. Govinda starrer Hathkadi is another unofficial remake that happened in the 90s.

Mawaali was a commercial success grossing ₹40.7 million at the box office, becoming the sixth highest grossing Indian film of 1983.

Nasir Hussain

Mohammad Nasir Hussain Khan or Nasir Hussain (16 November 1926 – 13 March 2002) was an Indian film producer, director and screenwriter. With a career spanning decades, Hussain has been credited as a major trendsetter in the history of Hindi cinema. For example, he directed Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973), which created the Bollywood masala film genre that defined Hindi cinema in the 1970s and 1980s, and he wrote and produced Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), which set the Bollywood musical romance template that defined Hindi cinema in the 1990s. Akshay Manwani wrote a book on Hussain's cinema titled Music, Masti, Modernity: The Cinema of Nasir Husain.

Sakalakala Vallavan

Sakalakala Vallavan (transl. Master of all Arts) is a 1982 Indian Tamil-language masala film directed by S. P. Muthuraman. The film stars Kamal Haasan and Ambika in lead roles with Raveendran, Tulasi, Silk Smitha and Y. G. Mahendra portraying supporting roles. The film was produced by M. Saravanan, M. Balasubramanian and M. S. Guhan under the production company AVM Productions.

The film revolves around Velu, a villager who takes revenge against Geetha and Palani for molesting his sister. The film's script was written by Panchu Arunachalam. The film's score and soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja with songs like "Ilamai Idho" and "Nethu Raatri" remaining popular in Tamil Nadu.

Babu and R. Vittal handled cinematography and editing respectively. The film was a blockbuster and ran for over 175 days in theatres. It also made Kamal Haasan popular among the masses. The film was dubbed in Telugu as Palleturi Simham.


Tohfa (English: Gift) is a 1984 Indian masala film produced by D. Ramanaidu under the Suresh Productions banner and directed by K. Raghavendra Rao. It stars Jeetendra, Jaya Prada and Sridevi in the lead roles and music composed by Bappi Lahiri The film is a remake of the Telugu film Devata (1982). The film upon its release was a massive box office success, grossing ₹9 crore, becoming the highest-grossing Indian film of 1984.The film's narrative follows siblings Janki and Lalita who both fall for Ram, their good friend. When Lalita learns that Janki loves Ram, she steps back and allows her sister to marry him. It was a direct remake of Raghavendra Rao's Telugu blockbuster Devatha (1982), with Sridevi and Jaya Prada reprising their roles.

At the 32nd Filmfare Awards, Tohfa received three nominations: Best Comic Actor (Kapoor), Best Music and Best Lyrics "Pyaar Ka Tohfa Tera.".

The story was drew inspiration from the 1959 Tamil film Kalyana Parisu, directed by C. V. Sridhar, who also directed its Hindi remake, Nazrana, (1961) starring Raj Kapoor and Vyjayanthimala and the 1960 Telugu movie Pelli Kanuka.

Villain (2002 film)

Villain is a 2002 Indian Tamil action masala film written and directed by K. S. Ravikumar and produced by S. S. Chakravarthy. The film stars Ajith Kumar in a dual role, alongside Meena and Kiran. Sujatha, FEFSI Vijayan, Karunaas and Ramesh Khanna appear in other significant roles, while Vidyasagar composed the score and soundtrack for the film. Villain was dubbed into Hindi as Jeet: The Mission of Success. Ajith's performance won his second Filmfare Award for Best Actor.

Yajamana (2019 film)

Yajamana is a 2019 Indian Kannada language action masala film written and directed by V. Harikrishna and Pon Kumaran and produced by Shylaja Nag and B Suresh. It stars Darshan, Rashmika Mandanna and Tanya Hope in lead roles. It also features an ensemble cast of Thakur Anoop Singh, Devaraj, P. Ravi Shankar, Dhananjay in key supporting roles. The film's background score and soundtrack is also composed by V. Harikrishna.

The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics and emerged as an opener for biggest box office blockbusters of 2019 in Sandalwood(Kannada cinema).

Yajamana commercialy became a milestone in Darshan's film career by crossing the mark of ₹50 crores and doing very well.

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