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Bollywood makes it to another dictionary

By Lamat R Hasan in New Delhi
July 30, 2007 11:18 IST
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India's top actors may find the description of the Hindi film industry as Bollywood derogatory and humiliating but the word has just been added to another leading dictionary.

After Oxford, it's Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary that has included the word in its eleventh edition.

Weeks after versatile actors Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri, both of whom have also acted in several English movies, protested the term at a function organised in London to honour them, Merriam-Webster announced that Bollywood was among the 100 words it has added to its dictionary to be released later this year.

Shah, who hates being referred to as a Bollywood actor, said at the function: "The term Bollywood was used to mock us by the western press. And it's just an indication of our own idiocy that we still use it."

Om Puri, who received the Order of the British Empire for acting from the Queen, said, "Bollywood -- whenever western people refer to it -- they mean Hindi films. They say 'Oh those song and dance films.' So it is a derogatory term. These terms are created by the media."

Much before Shah and Puri pooh-poohed the term, it was superstar Amitabh Bachchan who disapproved of the coinage.

Bachchan's concerns found an echo in the outrage of filmmaker Govind Nihalani, who thought the word suggested that Indians are aping Hollywood and have nothing new to offer.

As for the origin of the term, there seem to be quite a few claimants. While Shah and Puri say the West thought up the term to mock the film industry, filmmaker Amit Khanna claimed that he was the first to use the word in the mid-1970s.

Bevinda Collaco, a journalist, was quoted in the media saying she was the first to use the word in her column "On the Bollywood Beat" in Cine Blitz magazine in the late 1970s.

According to Merriam-Webster's etymology, the word -- which means "Bombay (Mumbai), traditional centre of the Indian film industry + Hollywood" -- first found a mention in 1976.

The dictionary goes on to describe Bollywood as "the motion picture industry in India".

As for the Oxford Dictionary, it added the word in 2003 along with botox, lap dancing and Viagra.

With most Hindi film actors describing themselves as Bollywood stars -- though the word is not recognised by the government -- it's no surprise that there's also a Tollywood, Mollywood and Kollywood.

Another spin off is Lollywood, the term used to refer to Pakistan's film industry.

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Lamat R Hasan in New Delhi
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