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If you haven't heard of Tamil cinema, you aren't alone. At the international level, South India's film industry is all but unknown and often gets confused with Bollywood, Mumbai's Hindi film business. But, over the past five years, the "Other Bollywood," led by Tamil cinema, produced more than half of all Indian movies. Budgets for Tamil films now rival Bollywood's, and South India's film industry is emerging as a creative dynamo.

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Superstar Tamil actor Kamal Haasan in the film, Hey Ram, about the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and Partition of India and Pakistan. Haasan also produced and directed the film, released in both Tamil and Hindi in the year 2000. (Sonia Narang/GlobalPost)

How a Tamil star is born

In Tamil Nadu, an ethnic rebellion turned film stars into gods.