Welcome to Planet Bollywood. In India, for a 20 cent movie ticket, you can still get the kind of musical extravaganza Hollywood used to be famous for. A massive chorus of dancers, dozens of costume changes, plenty of glitz, one heck of a happy ending, and a guaranteed four hours of performance pyrotechnics. In a cramped theater, or in a tent stretched under the skies, the audience sings and shouts bits of advice as the onscreen characters wrestle with life and death dilemmas. For the locals it all makes sense, the movies are rooted in the ancient Hindu tradition of religious sagas.
But Bollywood is now moving West, showing up everywhere from MTV to Oscar night. There’s even word that the next Bond girl is an Indian movie star. Masala spiced glam, the allure of the biggest dream factory in the world.
Ismael Merchant, filmaker
Jonathan Torgovnik, photographer and author.