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Ignored until recently, the South Indian film business is growing rapidly and setting artistic trends.

CHENNAI, India — Days before the May opening of the Cannes Film Festival, the director of the first Bollywood film invited for an official screening gave a shout-out to his colleagues in a long-overlooked arm of the Indian film industry. “There's a whole new wave in Tamil cinema,” said Anurag Kashyap, whose film “Gangs of Wasseypur” was screened as part of the Cannes' Directors Fortnight. “They've made the most extraordinary films in the last two years, and at the national level people don't even know about it.” At the international level, Tamil cinema gets even less recognition, as writers frequently confuse Mumbai's Hindi film business, locally known as Bollywood, for the entire Indian industry. But the increasing critical and financial success of “the Other Bollywood” could soon flip that perception upside down.

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In Tamil Nadu, an ethnic rebellion turned film stars into gods.
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The South Indian film industry differentiates itself from its more famous cousin.
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A new wave of hard-hitting, realistic films is shaking up the Tamil movie business.
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A visual breakdown of the Bollywood and Hollywood film industries.