India 28.09.2015 Transindus
Nothing conveys the vitality of India quite like Bollywood, with the colours, singing and dancing of these films filling viewers with a heightened sense of what the country is all about. Bollywood movies are now popular all over the world, but they originated in a very special place in India. Fans of the genre should be sure to organise a trip to Mumbai and see where it all began.
While some people use the term Bollywood to refer to all of Indian cinema, the term just refers to Hindi films originating in Mumbai. The name Bollywood was coined by combining the word Bombay - Mumbai's previous name - with Hollywood, the famous filmmaking area of the US.
It has grown to become the biggest film-producing region in India and is among the largest in the world. The Golden Age of Bollywood is generally thought to have been in the 1940s, 50s and 60s after India gained independence.
While classics such as Awaara, Mother India and Madhumati all originate from this time, the Bollywood film industry continues to make well-received films to this day. The 21st century has seen the likes of Veer-Zaara, Dhoom and Jab We Met all coming out of Mumbai.
What to expect from a Bollywood film
Nearly all Bollywood films are musicals and the cast are expected to be all-singing and dancing. Expect romance, love triangles, comedy and action, as well as complicated family relations, duplicitous villains and dramatic reversals of fortunes.
One of the most fun things you can do in India is see a Bollywood film in the cinema, as the audience gets up and dances along with the musical numbers and exclamations at plot twists are far from reserved.
Exploring important sites in the Bollywood film industry isn't quite the same as going to Hollywood, as it is not a physical place. Instead, film locations, studios and other areas of interest are scattered all over the city. Here are some of the Bollywood-related sites to include on your trip to Mumbai:
Mumbai Film City
With 20 indoor studios and 350 acres of prime shooting space, Film City is the first choice for shooting many Bollywood movies. Located in the upmarket Goregaon area of Mumbai, it has been set up to provide a series of common outdoor backdrops, such as gardens, forests, lakes and villages. Wandering around here is like stepping into a Bollywood film.
Three kilometres of palm-lined road overlooking the Arabian Sea makes Marine Drive perfect for shooting actors in a natural setting. It was an important location in Dhoom and has a bit of everything to please a director.
Chaatatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Trains are a huge part of Indian life, so it is not surprising they feature heavily in the country's film industry. As the busiest train station in the world and the perfect location for first impressions of Mumbai for important characters or heartfelt goodbyes, Chaatatrapati Shivaji Terminus often becomes a movie set. Most people will recognise it from Slumdog Millionaire among others.
There is often a beach scene in Bollywood films and the location for many is Aksa Beach. So popular has it become with directors that it was name-checked in the movie God Tussi Great Ho with a musical number called Tujhe Aksa Beach Ghuma Doon.
This large square featuring the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum is sometimes used for busy scenes. There are upmarket shops, restaurants and hawkers all going about their business, providing a bustling backdrop to storylines. Some of the 2012 film Talaash was created here.
Being an extra in a Bollywood film
For those looking for their 15 minutes of fame and not opposed to lots of standing around, being an extra in a Bollywood film is lots of fun. Sometimes there are researchers wandering around Mumbai looking for westerners to fill up scenes, but often a little asking around will allow you to find out where filming is happening for the latest flick. Simply show up and offer your services.