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In India, the power of an icon or a holy person is often conveyed by way of sight: one must "behold" the entity in question. This particular import of sight has undoubtedly contributed to cinema’s elevated position within Indian culture; the release of a film and the hero-worship of actors in India arouses great fervor. Bollywood Superstars traces the development of Indian cinema from its precedents in the late 19th century to its establishment as a massive industry a century later. Several chapters are dedicated to key figures within this remarkable history, including cinematographer Ravi Varma, producer Dadasaheb Phalke, director Satyajit Ray and the actor Rajinikanth.
The volume emphasizes the particular flavor of films produced in different regions: “Kollywood” cinema from Tamil (a mix of comedy, action and emotion), “Bollywood” cinema from Mumbai (musical “masala films”) and “Tollywood” cinema from Bengali (critically acclaimed art films). Punctuating this wealth of information are film stills, movie posters, photographs and various artworks that have inspired the country’s filmmakers.