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Bollywood lights

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Bolly good time

You've probably caught glimpses of Bollywood extravaganzas by now, whether it be in the introduction to Ghost World or by way of the art-house release of Lagaan (both in 2001). But this is just the tip of the iceberg, or a pea in a very large bag of samosas, if you will. Now that your appetite has been whet, where do you go to slake your thirst? You can't find Indian films at your corner Blockbuster, nor are they broadcast on cable television (even though the film industry in Mumbai has the largest output in the world).

Locally, there are two stores that stock Bollywood films. You can rent videos from India House Store (461-0880) on Clinton Avenue, or India Market (427-8667) at Win-JeffPlaza on Winton Road. Both locations have generous stock of both new and old films.

OK. So now you're examining the spines and you don't know a thing about Indian cinema. Here are a few hints to find something palatable.

The vintage years for Bollywood cinema are from the mid-'50s to the late '70s. These are the decades with the finest stars, the most technicolor sets, the largest number of strings in the orchestra, the loopiest flip-flops in the love story and the highest incidence of rainfall during a dance sequence. Keep these dates in mind when you're eyeing the credits.

While you're looking at the credits, also keep in mind the singers and composers. Some of the key talents of the era are: GeetaDutt, AshaBhosle, R.D. Burman, LataMangeshkar, and Mohammad Rafi. These artists were stunningly prolific in their time, so if you're looking for a more specific recommendation, here are a few classics to look out for: Mr and Mrs. 55, Jewel Thief, TeesriManzil, KagaazKePhool, Pyasa, MeeraNaamGeeta, Sholay and Qurbani. And considering the long running time of Bollywood films, this should keep you occupied until DVDs become obsolete.

If you can't track down a title locally, you can always resort to the trusty old Web. The largest selection of videos can be found at Eros Entertainment (erosentertainment.com). And the best thing is: Bollywood videos are cheap as tacos, so you can digest five at a time and still stay under budget.

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