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Mumbai is the center of India's huge Hindi film industry, producing 120 feature films a year. Much of the glamour associated with the city stems from its celebrated position as the dream-factory of the nation. The local film industry is known as Bollywood. It's a ragtag speculative trade, flush with black money and low on innovation. The films it produces tend to be spectacular melodramatic fantasies. They are known disparagingly as 'masala movies' because they are made to an established formula that mixes a variety of ingredients - action, violence, music, dance, romance and moralizing - into one outrageous blend. While plenty of thought- provoking 'artistic' Indian films are appreciated in the west, masala movies are largely viewed with contempt. It's not hard to figure out why. Stock characters, exaggerated acting, self-conscious editing, implausible, narratives and heroines who burst into song every five minutes are just the beginning of a long list of unlikely features that you are going to have to accept at face value if you want to enjoy a Bollywood flick. Despite being dismissed as escapist claptrap, plenty of masala movies get their narrative drive from social issues like communalism, ethnicity and caste. Many also address the effects of modernization and urbanization on traditional Indian institutes such as the family and marriage. As you'd expect from any vibrant cultural form, masala movies  are a reflection of India's social and  political milieu. This doesn't diminish their appeal or (thank goodness) unduly imbue them with profundity, but it does mean they have an astonishingly  direct feed into the lives of their audiences that  outsiders  may find hard to fathom. On the surface it may be Rambo, Romeo  and Robin Hood, but the subtext is likely to be the Mahabharata, dharma, and social justice. In this context , it's not  surprising that masala movies have been one of the most potent forces shaping Indian ideas of nationhood. 

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Andhra Pradesh :: Arunachal Pradesh :: Dardar & Nagar Haveli :: Delhi :: Goa :: Gujarat :: Himachal Pradesh :: Jammu & Kashmir :: Karnataka :: Kerala :: Lakshadweep :: Madhya Pradesh :: Maharashtra :: Orissa :: Pondicherry :: Punjab :: Rajasthan :: Tamil Nadu ::Uttar Pradesh :: Uttaranchal :: West Bengal

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