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How to Experience Bollywood Culture in Mumbai

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How to Experience Bollywood Culture in Mumbai
A portmanteau of Hollywood and Bombay (the former name of Mumbai), Bollywood refers to India’s Hindi-language film industry. For many travelers, the chance to experience Bollywood culture is one of the top reasons to visit Mumbai. Fortunately, ample Bollywood-specific tours and attractions welcome curious visitors with open arms.

What Is Bollywood?
Bollywood films span genres, though most have a few common characteristics that distinguish them from Hollywood films, beyond their use of the Hindustani language. For one, they can be quite long and often include an intermission in the middle. They also tend to feature multiple song-and-dance breaks, which sometimes advance the storyline—but sometimes are just plain entertaining. Most actors simply lip-synch their songs, with the actual voices belonging to a handful of professional vocalists known as playback singers.

Where to Go
  • Bandstand Promenade: Though the Bandstand Promenade’s Hollywood-esque Walk of the Stars has been removed, many of Bollywood’s top stars still live in the area, and if you hang around long enough you may just spot one.
  • Colaba: The hub of tourist activity in Mumbai, local scouts often head straight to Colaba to seek out foreigners to act as extras.
  • Film City: This gargantuan film studio complex has been a premier Bollywood shooting location since the 1970s.
  • Juhu: A popular filming venue, this upscale coastal neighborhood is home to many of India’s top movie stars.
  • Regal Cinema: The art-deco Regal Cinema is one of the oldest movie theaters in town and is a great place to see Bollywood films.
  • S.J. Studios: Many of Bollywood’s most famous films have been shot at this studio.
 
How to Go
Experiencing Bollywood in Mumbai is best done with a guide or organized tour, especially as most film studios are actively used year-round and don’t allow people to just wander in. Most tours visit Film City, though some head to other locations, such as S. J. Studios—and a few do both. Most tours make at least a cursory stop in one of the neighborhoods where a lot of Bollywood stars live, and some even offer little extras such as dance lessons. If you dream of gracing the silver screen, you’re on their own—but hanging out in Colaba just might help you catch the eye of a local casting agent!
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