Even though it has remained the world’s most prolific filmmaking machine for more than 50 years, the wild world of the Bollywood movie is generally unknown to most mainstream North American viewers.

Chandni Chowk to China aims to change all that. The epic, big budget kung-fu comedy — it opens Friday — marks the first time major U.S. studio Warner Bros. has co-produced a completely Hindi-language picture (other studios Fox, Sony and Disney have similarly begun investing in Bollywood ventures) and expectations are high.

“This is a very big deal for Bollywood films because it exposes us on a global level,” says Bollywood superstar and Chandni Chowk to China lead actor, Akshay Kumar. American and British cinema has incorporated elements and trappings of the Bollywood style for years (Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire stands as a recent commercially and critically successful example) but Chandni Chowk to China is the real deal. In it, Kumar stars as hapless Delhi veggie slicer Sidhu who, mistaken for the re-incarnation of a legendary warrior, is whisked away to China to do battle with an evil crime boss named Hojo — played by Kung Fu movie icon Gordon Liu.

Not only is CC2C the biggest internationally exposed Indian film in history — with over 140 prints in North America alone — but its production also marks the first time any movie from any country has been allowed to film on the ancient Great Wall of China.

“Not only did we shoot on the wall,” says Kumar, “but we were, kicking, jumping and throwing people around with cables and cranes. It was incredible and a great privilege.”

In true Bollywood fashion, Chandni Chowk to China runs almost three hours long and is packed to the bursting point with slapstick comedy, maudlin drama, jaw dropping action, heart throbbing romance … and of course, those outrageously colourful, slickly choreographed musical numbers that have endeared — and confused — so many filmgoers.

“In a Hollywood movie, emotions are shown subtly but in a Bollywood movie, when somebody feels love, we go on to a bridge and dance and yell ‘I love her and she loves me so lets have a song.’ We’re loud that way.”

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