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There are more than 22 officially recognized languages in India with Hindi and English being used for official purposes. While most Indian actors speak fluent English, Bollywood films primarily use Hindi with perhaps a few English words or phrases scattered throughout.

American viewers should be aware that subtitles in Indian films are not always word-for-word translations. Indian or filmy cultural references (Bollywood is often self-referential) may be revised to something more westernized. English profane exclamations may be translated as “Oh no!”

Then there is the overall sentence structure and style of the Hindi language which is very different from English, so the subtitles reflect more of the idea of what is said than the actual words. Sometimes Hindi words are anglicized (though not consistently) because those not familiar with written Hindi can’t decipher the Devanagari script.

Going a step further, the more tongue-twisting languages of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and others celebrate histories that also define who they are. For example, the Tamil language is the oldest written language that is still spoken today and Tamil films, in particular, may include a reference to Tamilian pride.