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by Bob Samborski

The situation was getting ugly.

The two main adversaries, having moved well past the stage of taunting and hurling insults, were now positioning themselves for action and checking their backup.

Looking for the slightest weakness in each other’s eyes, the leaders stood toe to toe, their breaths mingling. Behind them in formation, their gangs edged nervously toward each other, closing the space where the rivalry would soon play out.

Muscles taunt, faces etched in determination, like coiled springs the young warriors on both sides tensely awaited their signal. You could cut the tension with a scimitar.

In a flash, all hell breaks loose: Unable to contain himself, the dashing young protagonist rips off his white silk chemise, revealing a tanned, well-honed upper torso. Striking a perfect silhouette against the glowing sunset, he begins a complex series of twirling leaps, meant to indicate his extreme displeasure with his adversary.

Arrayed in tight formation behind him, his posse conveys the honor and purity of his sentiment by mimicking his every stylized gesture and twitch. A full orchestra adding appropriate punctuation, the display lasts almost eight minutes. The rival group stands in stunned silence and, eventually, admiration. The day is saved; the boy gets the girl.

That’s a wrap — welcome to Bollywood!

Although headquartered in Mumbai (Bombay), a great deal of filming and pre- and post-production work is accomplished at Ramoji Film City — the Universal Studios of Bollywood.

Located in south-central India about 20 miles east of Hyderabad, Ramoji is surrounded by the desert-like landscape of the Deccan Plateau.

Sage-colored clumps decorate the red-orange earth, and occasional broadleaf evergreens contribute additional texture. It seems a great place for imaginations and creativity to run wild.  And that’s exactly what happens at Ramoji Film City.

Opened in 1996, Ramoji is recognized by Guinness  World Records as the largest film studio in the world. A major tourist attraction, as well as a world-class cinema production facility, Ramoji Film City incorporates 50 studio floors and sound stages, high-tech laboratories and 2,500 acres of lush landscaped gardens and other scenery for outdoor filming.

Your first stop is the arrival center, where you can purchase day tickets and take a shuttle into the center of the park.

After a refreshing coconut milk drink, visit Eureka and check the times for the live “Hoe Down” (think “Bollywood meets the Grand Ole Opry”) and the Wild West Stunt Show which incorporates a disproportionate amount of oriental martial art techniques but is entertaining nonetheless.  Right next door are recreations of palace facades and courtyards that conjure up the opulence of the Mughal dynasties.

The price of admission is about US$14 and it provides access to all the public displays, shops and rides, as well as a variety of bus tours.

The Green Tour visits themed gardens, fountains and the extensive nursery of exotic plants, flowers and shrubs. The Backstage Tour winds through a series of small villages, cities, temples and other film sets like an airport terminal and a country train station .

There’s plenty for the kids to do too. Rides and amusement abound in Thrillville, Wonderville and Timberland –all part of the appropriately named “Fundustan.”

For more information on Ramoji Film City: http://ramojifilmcity.com/tourist/index.html

For more information on Bollywood:
http://www.planetbollywood.com/ — Ratings for films and songs, celebrity news
http://www.bollywhat.com/ — Guide for the “clueless” — everything you need to know.

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