Bollywood’s international success attributes to the fact that people outside our culture encircling of different languages have a desire to observe and understand our Indian culture through films which in some countries has gained its popularity. One of the reasons could be is that many westerners think our Indian films are high drama. emotional with lot of costumes,
song and dance . However this doesn’t stand true anymore as India is now making films which are more progressive, with strong message for the audience or the biopics of personalities that have taken the top place or have been in the news for various reasons. Gone are the films that portrayed hero and heroine dancing and singing around the trees or the common stories have been left behind.
Bollywood a merging word from India’s most famous city Bombay now called Mumbai where the films were first made. The first film Raja Harishchandra which was made in Bombay in 1913, the film had allured the westerners and worldwide and since then Bollywood has continued to create an impact on the Westerners. The popularity of Bollywood films has also an impact on the fashions and can go as far as Nigeria in African country. The trend has continued.
We recently got a glimpse of how China an emerging market that promotes Bollywood films in a big way has a phenomenal Box office collection.
Tubelight – Releasing in June 2017
Salman Khan‘s film Tubelight which features the Chinese actress Zhu Zhu is expected for its mega release in China, which happens to be the film’s leading lady’s country as well. Obviously the film is gearing up to promote the film in Chinese cities, scheduled for its release on June 25th this year.
Tubelight set during the 1962 Sino-Indo War, is expected to rock the worldwide release as the story is of a Man from India who falls in love with a woman from China. This story line through the trailer released is appealing to the masses already even before the release of the film .
Baahubali 2 :The Conclusion – 2017
The most recent films that fetched good business in the international circuit is Baahubali 2:The Conclusion. S.S Rajamouli’s magnum opus has created unimaginable waves worldwide, has had an astonishing bumper collection at the opening over the weekend of its release. The multi-lingual film starring Prabhas and Rana Daggubati and Anushka Shetty rose at an astonishing box office collection of over Rs. 800 crores worldwide spread out in cumulative languages and is a first Indian film to have reached that heights. The film is doing extremely well in USA, Canada, Gulf countries and Australia and has had an unbeatable records.
Dangal – 2016
Aamir Khan‘s Dangal has an extraordinary popularity in China, a film that has become an inspirational movie. Dangal became the fifth highest non-English film to have grossed over Rs. 2000 crore mark and has attained the 30th highest grossed film globally and replaced the James Boblin Fantasy feature film which was on the 30th rank.
Dangal has become a craze in China and one has to actually see this phenomenal popularity with disbelief. A film with an inspirational message and subtle humour. The critically acclaimed film starring Aamir Khan is running packed houses in China and is one of the most popular films on the top in Non-Hollywood foreign films in the country.
PK – 2014
PK a science fiction comedy film was released in 2014 opened in 22 International markets during its opening weekend. One of the first films to have crossed a gross of US$100 million (Rs.630 crore) worldwide and is currently the third highest grossing Indian films to have done well in the International scene. Produced by Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra starring Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma and Sushant Singh Rajput.
3 Idiots – 2009
A coming of age comedy drama film directed by Rajkumar Hirani and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi who wrote the screen play. A story inspired from Chetan Bhagat’s novel Five Point Someone starring Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, R Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Omi Vaidya, Parikshit Sahni and Boman Irani, the film went on to be one of the highest grossing films world wide and became one of the few Indian films to have become successful in East Asian Markets such as China bringing an overseas collection of more than US$65 million.
The film that had subtitled version grew popular in China, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. The film was so popular that there were talks on the Chinese to remake this film produced by Stephen Chow and also in Hollywood.
Khuda Gawah – 1992
The film was shot during extremely troubled times in Afghan but the small delegation from Bollywood were welcomed with open arms. The soviets had just left the country and handed over the power to the Najibullah Ahmadizai who was a big fan of the popular Hindi Cinema. He was a die hard fan of Amitabh Bachchan and encouraged Bollywood film screening in the country. The Khuda Gawah crew and stars were treated with warmth, and their trip conclude their shooting which turned out to be one of the most memorable ones.
Mera Naam Joker – 1970
Mera Naam Joker a film directed by the Bollywood first showman Raj Kapoor. A film that is considered to be one of the best ones of the Indian cinema in that era. A story about the clown which went on to become a blockbuster not just in India but in Russia and many other foreign countries.
Back in the soviet union days, when Hollywood and films from other western countries were banned, that was the time Bollywood got its limelight and was the means of entertainment.
Our films were popular among the masses worldwide as some of them focused on partitions and India’s struggle movement for freedom, People of Russia could relate it to.
Yesteryear veteran actor Raj Kapoor in particular was one of the most popular actors in Russia and he became famous with his film, Mera Naam Joker which would run full house and packed shows in Russia. One of the reasons could be that the film also starred the Russian actress Ksneiya Ryanbinkina. Apart from the film, Mera Naam Joker, the other films that became very popular are his films Awara, Shree 420 and Seeta Aur Geeta.
The song ‘Mera Joota Hai Japani’ picturised on the legendary veteran actor Raj Kapoor from his film, Shree 420 sung by Mukesh was a phenomenon in Russia and was hummed by people all over Russia and till this date it is still one of the most popular songs worldwide.
In 2016 which is very recent, the Supehero film Deadpool of 2016 starring Ryan Reynolds opened up with the Mera Joota Hai Japani lyrics. A source close to the film said Tim Miller the producer of the film had fallen in love with the song after he had heart it playing in a pub in New Zealand.
Apart from Mera Naam Joker, his classic films such as Awara released in 1951 and Shree 420, also got very popular. What followed was Dharmendra and Hema Malini‘s Seeta Aur Geeta that got lot of success in the country.
Awara – 1951
‘Awara Hoon’ from the film Awara by Raj Kapoor also got very popular in Russia and the whole Asian country that the higher officials would sing this song. What attracted them to the song was its simplicity and the clear wordings.
China is a market with a huge potential growth for Indian cinema and our films are also reaching out to some of the most unexpected places around the globe. Young women and men across the world are fans of our popular film stars.
Bollywood is not taking over the world as yet and that will go a long way till that actually happens but it’s the way how our cinema has gone beyond the barriers in the way we are yet to understand. It’s surely astonishing how Bollywood has been emerging as one of the popular business or industry worldwide and in the emerging countries past few decades.
We hear of the western women, the blondes and the fans across UK, despite shivering in the sub-zero for hours just waiting for a glimpse of their favourite star Shah Rukh Khan. It all started with 2004 film, ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham‘ on prime time. The women of the nation got hooked on to the Indian melodrama , the family values and Shah Rukh Khan as their idol.
Studies show that 95 percent of the women are attracted to the movies because they find our heroes being the soft, romantic, warm and show their emotional side and are very different from the western culture which can be quite cold. Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, the three super Khans have offered more romance for Europe than they can imagine.
In Afghanistan they are biggest fans of Salman Khan. He is more than a superstar, a style Icon for them. Afghanistan’s love for Bollywood films have lasted through decades when cinemas were banned. It is believed when Taliban took over and banned the girls going to school, they would lock themselves up in a room with windows blacked out and they watched Bollywood films.
Ek Tha Tiger posters and promos when released sparkled off a nationwide craze for the scarves Salman wore in the film. Bollywood posters gain popularity as they are seen everywhere, whether it is at the gym or a beauty parlour or at the weddings and songs like ‘Parde Mein Rehne Do’ are played and also the Bollywood fashion is a big influence on the kids in other countries as much as it has a fan following here in their own.
The older generation were not far behind as they were so passionate about Hindi films. Madhubala‘s Afghan look or Feroz Khan‘s hot scenes in Dharmatma in 1975, Kabul Express of 2006 all got their much deserved flash mob.
While we take a look at NRI’s who have continued to boost the fortunes of Bollywood films in USA and Canada, South America have the new fan following.
Fifteen of our best films were screened at the 2007 Bagota International Film Festival. Films that were super hit like 3 Idiots, Guzaarish, Ek Main Aur Ek Tu or Dhoom 3 and My Name is Khan to name a few that were screened in Peru. Fanaa and Chennai Express did exceptionally well on the same day as its release in India.
It is not just in India that we have a Fan club for Bollywood. Across South America we hear of Fan clubs specially honouring one of their favourite star be it Hrithik Roshan, or the Khan Stalwarts or Kapoors, Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai or a much bigger fan club of our Indian celebrities. The latest being Prabhas of the Baahubali 2 :The Conclusion fame.
It’s not just in India where you have diehard fans of Hindi film actors. The fans are spread across the globe. Large portion of the overseas audience of films watch Hindi cinema even though they do not understand Hindi language and the culture but are vivid watchers and fans of our stars.
Hindi films got very popular in a country like Egypt in the 80’s where Bollywood flourished as they loved the kind of song and dance sequences from the Hindi films. While their own local films faired poor and revenues were facing a big problem that’s when the Government of Egypt put a stop to screening of Indian films. For 25 years the Bollywood films were banned and at a time when Hollywood was exceeding its revenues, however it is believed that Egyptians were fighting for the Bollywood movies to be screened in Egypt and finally after 25 years of long wait Bollywood movies are back in Egypt on special screening.
Well if you think India is the craziest Bollywood fan, then Pakistan is not far behind when it comes to an unimaginable craze for Bollywood films and celebrities and the Bollywood music that gets popular much before the film’s release. The Pakistan Government had also put a ban on Hindi films from Indian Cinema as it was over powering the revenues generated from local film screenings. Shah Rukh Khan is the Icon already for Cinemas in that country. The ban didn’t stop the fan following and it only increased over a period of time and nothing could curb their interest in Hindi films.