RRR (2022) is something of a cultural phenomenon, likened to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) by John Powers, pop culture critic for NPR’s Fresh Air, for the level of audience participation. Even though the film is now available for streaming, it still plays to theatrical audiences. “The [recent Los Angeles] screening had 900 people — some of whom had already seen the film 10 times — clapping and dancing from the opening credits.” RRR, a Telugu-language Indian epic from writer-director S.S. Rajamouli, is currently enjoying significant Oscar buzz.
RRR is a costume action/drama/fantasy/buddy picture set in India during the British Raj. Indian films and are often referred to as Bollywood, but that term can be rather limiting. When they hear “Bollywood,” many people imagine musicals with elaborately choreographed group dance numbers and passionate love stories – and they’re not wrong, but Indian films offer so much more. India is one of the largest film producers in the world, with an industry worth approximately ₹183 billion per year (≈$2.23 billion USD). Hindi-language films (the original Bollywood productions) are the single largest group, but there are numerous regional production hubs across the country producing films in a wide variety of languages, including Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Bhojpuri, and Bengali. In a single year, India might release 4,500 films in 41 different languages. India is also one of the few markets in the world that still produced “double-shot” movies.
Double-shooting began in the early sound era, before dubbing and subtitling took over. With silent films, you simply swapped out the intertitles and you had a language-specific version for a new territory. That does not work with sound films, so producers might shoot a film two (or more) times using actors speaking different languages. The productions would use essentially the same script, sets, costumes, and locations. If they could manage it, the stars would appear in both versions, though language-specific casting is also common. Most world cinema has moved on to subs and dubs, but India still produces double-shot movies, which can make unique identification quite a challenge.
To gain an appreciation for the breadth of Indian cinema, we turned to our friends at TimeOut, a popular source for well-curated lists of the best offerings in a variety of entertainment categories. Their list of “The 100 best Bollywood movies” includes “everything from Tamil thrillers to Telugu-language action spectaculars like RRR. Also on the list are so-called ‘curry western’ like Sholay, bombastic blockbusters like Baahubali, older classics like Mother India and smaller fare in which nothing at all blows up and no one is attacked by tigers.” All of these works, and many others from India and around the world, are identified in the EIDR registry.
 A portmanteau of “Bombay” and “Hollywood,” coined in 1970 to identify the Hindi-language production center located in and around Mumbai (know as Bombay at the time).
 For example, Laurel and Hardy shot a number of films in both English and Spanish.
The Best of Indian Cinema