Chennai is a major centre for music, art and culture in India. The city is known for its classical dance shows and Hindu temples. Every December, Chennai holds a five-week long Music Season celebrating the 1927 opening of the Madras Music Academy. It features performances (kutcheries) of traditional Carnatic music by hundreds of artists in and around the city. An arts festival called the Chennai Sangamam, which showcases various arts of Tamil Nadu is held in January every year. Chennai is also known forBharatanatyam, a classical dance form that originated in Tamil Nadu. An important cultural centre for Bharatanatyam is Kalakshetra, on the beach in the south of the city.Chennai is also home to some of the best choirs in India, who during the Christmas season stage various carol performances across the city in Tamil and English.
Chennai is the base for the large Tamil movie industry, known as Kollywood, home to most of the movie studios. The industry makes more than 150 Tamil movies a year, and its soundtracks dominate the city's music. Some of the biggest names in the Indian film fraternity like Ilaiyaraaja, K. Balachander, Sivaji Ganesan, M. G. Ramachandran, Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Mani Ratnam and S. Shankar are based out of Chennai. A. R. Rahman took Chennai to international fame by winning two Oscars, two Grammy Awards in 2009 for the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Chennai's theatres stage many Tamil plays; political satire, slapstick comedy, history, mythology and drama are among the popular genres. English plays are also staged in the city.
Among Chennai's festivals, Pongal is celebrated over five days in January, is the most important. Almost all major religious festivals such as Deepavali, Eid and Christmas are celebrated in Chennai. Tamil cuisine in Chennai includes vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Many of the city's restaurants offer light meals or tiffin, which usually include rice-based dishes like pongal, dosa, idli and vadai, served with steaming hot filter coffee.