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A Tour of Jackson Heights: Bollywood in Queens

Bollywood in Queens

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Jackson Heights is a great neighborhood for stocking up on Bollywood films and music. Bollywood is the name for the Indian film industry, and the many titles it produces annually. It is the second largest motion picture industry in the world, and its masala-style films invariably include plenty of song and dance.

Start out right by seeing the feature film at the Palace Theater on 37th Road. Formerly a blue venue, the shabby exterior hides a delightful local theater devoted to Bollywood films. Truly the big screen is the best place to see the whirling all-singing, all-dancing, over-the-top drama of the Hindi movie masalas.

If the shows aren't running during your visit, step right next door to the little retail shop Melody Stop, where the hits continue on video, DVD, and CD. Don't let the crowded, too narrow shop deter you from a visit. The melodies are sweet and the prices sweeter. Expect to pay five dollars for truly marvelous features like Lagaan (a colonial piece), Kaante (Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects gone Bollywood), or the 1970s masterpiece Sholay (Bollywood's greatest Western, or at least curry Western). The sales staff is friendly, and will recommend titles of note to novices.

For a more leisurely browse, round the corner onto 74th Street and head up the block to Raaga Super Store with its wider selection and much wider aisles. What this store makes up for in comfort, it lacks in prices. In addition to the movie titles, look for its selection of bhangra, the electro-Indian pop music of the moment that has sucked a hip-hop sound into Punjabi folk music. On your way to the shop you'll have already heard the latest tunes pounding the concrete from cars inching their way up 74th Street.

The Essentials
Palace Theater
73-7 37th Road
Jackson Heights, NY

Melody Stop
73-9 37th Road
Jackson Heights, NY
718-429-2578

Raaga Super Store
37-26 74th St.
Jackson Heights, NY

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