select - Indian Movie Towns
Written by Brian Johnston Illustration by Melanie Armstrong
Bollywood movies have garnered international attention in the last decade and become part of international pop culture, but this movie phenomenon is only one part of India’s incredible 'film credits' in cities that span the subcontinent.
Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is the freewheeling, trendsetting, fashionable, glamorous chief city of India, and nowhere is that better exemplified than in its famous Bollywood film industry. It’s not only the largest movie business in the world, producing several films a week, but surely the most energetic of genres, mixing romance with song, dance, drama, and the occasional fight scene. RK Studios (opened by legendary movie star Raj Kapoor in the 1950s) is the oldest and still one of the leading studios, and therefore a must-visit. The largest is Big ND Studio, where you can see film sets of Switzerland and Singapore (favoured exotic locations for Bollywood movies), scale replicas of Agra Fort, and an old-time colonial Bombay street. As for Balaji Telefilms, a visit transports you onto the sets of some of India’s most popular television soap operas.
The famous epicentre of India’s film industry features the fun and flashy art form known as Bollywood.
Mumbai lies on the central west coast of India, and is one of the chief gateways to the subcontinent.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Mumbai.
ChannaiAlthough Mumbai is the most internationally renowned movie city in India, it caters to a Hindi-speaking audience. On the other hand, the neighbourhood of Kodambakkam in Chennai (formerly Madras) has been the epicentre of the Tamil language movie business since the 1940s. The first studio here was AVM; other famous studios include LV Prasad and Vijaya Vauhini. Purpose-built MGR Film City, which includes a vast sprawl of recording theatres, dubbing studios, film sets, and more, is the only studio that opens its doors to the public. As well as allowing visitors to see film sets (including outdoor sets such as Mogul-era gardens and a Greek amphitheatre), there are swimming pools and water attractions popular with families. Those keen enough can request to appear as an extra in whichever movie is currently being produced.
Chennai has a thriving arts, culture, and dance scene, and is the hub of the significant Tamil movie industry.
The capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai is located on India’s southeast coast on the Bay of Bengal.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Chennai.
Lying some 35 kilometres outside the city, Ramoji Film City is one of the most comprehensive movie production centres in the world. It is also one of the most visitor-oriented of India’s film studios, with tours offering entertaining guides, song and dance numbers, and visits to some of the 50-something film sets that range from Mogul forts and Japanese tea gardens to the Wild West.
From convenient hotels to guided tours, this is one of the most easily visited and entertaining movie studios anywhere.
Hyderabad is the capital of Andhra Pradesh state and lies at over 530 metres above sea level on the Deccan Plateau.
HOW TO GET THEREQatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Hyderabad.