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Bollywood Woos Southeast Asia

Bollywood Southeast Asia

‘Bollywood.. dancing, dancing!’ ‘Oh, the dance maharajah!’ ‘I like 3 idiots and Amir Khan!’ These were the general comments about Hindi films, popularly referred to as ‘Bollywood’ by film enthusiasts from Asian countries like China, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan at the entertainment expo in Hong Kong recently. What attracted most people to Hindi films was that one uniqueness, that most of them had a lot of song and dance. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that 3 idiots and Amir Khan have been forerunners in further endorsing Bollywood’s presence in the Far East in the last two years. In fact, this coming-of-age comedy being released in China, a country which has several restrictions on film imports (the Chinese government till recently allowed only 20 outside films to release in China) was itself a huge achievement. It was also the first Indian film to be dubbed (instead of being subtitled) in Mandarin! The film, which also ran for several weeks in Hong Kong and South Korea, seemed to have struck a note with the Chinese audience who identified with the issue of parental pressure on today’s young students.

"Today, we have a long way to go to make inroads into China- one of the biggest and hottest markets today. They make about 500 films annually themselves, so as to safeguard their own film industry apply a quota restriction on foreign films. Out of these a major chunk is taken up by Hollywood films and the rest by films from Honk Kong, Japan and other Asian Countries. The only way India can make headway is if our government takes more interest and initiate talks with the Chinese government,” said Narendra Hirawat, proprietor of Narendra Hirawat & Co, who was visiting the trade fare hoping to strike deals for his bank of 500 films.

Though India is the largest film industry in the world and has its traditional markets in the US,UK, Canada and the Middle East, unfortunately, this huge figure doesn’t translate into equally large numbers in terms of revenue, in Southeast Asia, especially China and Japan.

However, the growing interest in Bollywood has prompted Indian producers on marketing their old films. Confermed Raja Chhinnal, Manager-Exports of NFDC. "NFDC has a collection of 300 titles old, new and classics and we have a lot of enquirers from Hong Kong and China about socially driven films that promote Indian culture.

The numbers of Indians in US, UK, South Korea and Middle East is over 20 million people. Earlier, audiences abroad watched Bollywood films on home videos but are open to stepping into theatres today.

Though the selling price of Hindi films ranges from 5000 to 50,000 dollars depending which rights are sold- theatre, television, cable, internet or DVDs, these new markets do not come without its share of problems. Widespread piracy and the popularity of Hollywood cinema are some of the main reasons of slack business.

However, even some teething troubles, it is no longer a secret that Indian films have managed to make significant inroads in the previously inaccessible Southeast Asian market.

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