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Mumbai is the throbbing heart of the highly productive Indian film industry. In Bollywood, a portmanteau of Bombay and Hollywood, more than 1,000 feature films are produced every year. Take a look behind the scenes of this unique film universe or spot upcoming film stars in one of the many hip bars in the city.
You can tell a classic Bollywood film by its brightly-coloured sets, a melodramatic story line and lead actors who court each other with songs. The films are also famous for their elaborate dance choreographies influenced by Hollywood musicals from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, as well as ancient Indian dances. Although there are many parodies mocking the saccharine Bollywood style, more than 3 billion film tickets are sold every year in India. Not surprisingly, Indian film stars are worshipped like demigods.
Of course you can visit one of Mumbai’s many cinemas to immerse yourself in the famous Hindi film genre. Keep in mind, however, that the average Bollywood film lasts at least 3 hours, so you might rather take a look behind the scenes. There are various organised tours (with a private guide or by bus) of Film City, just north of Mumbai. This historic 495-acre complex is a chain of studios and film sets with real houses, schools, hospitals, temples and even complete villages. As they are always shooting a film or an episode of a soap series, you are very likely to run into actors and dancers in action. The tour also takes you to film locations outside of the complex, such as those of the blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire. Most guides conclude the tour with a visit to the exclusive upscale suburban district of Bandra to see the mansions of famous Indian film stars. Have a look at the multi-million dollar mansion of Shahrukh Khan, a Bollywood mega star with more than 70 film credits.
Conclude the day like a true Bollywood star. Mumbai is known for its many hip bars and clubs on high roof patios, such as the Aer Lounge, which is located on the 34th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel: a spot to see and be seen. Spectacular city views and a stark white ultra-modern round cocktail bar in the middle of the rooftop patio vie for the attention of both patrons and tourists. Enjoy the sunset view from this bar while a DJ spins some records and you sip a cocktail or a glass of champagne.