Sunday, January 30, 2011

Entertainment is the latest business of India with Latin America

Images of Argentina will appear when Shahrukh Khan hosts the ¨ Wipe Out ¨( Zor ka Jhakta ) show from 1 to 16 February at 9 pm in the Indian TV Channel ¨Imagine¨. Before each episode, there will be videos of Argentina. Hmmm...Indians will be surprised by Sharukh Khan's Argentine connection. Here is the secret... All the 16 episodes of the show were shot in Buenos Aires. A team of 28 Indian TV film stars and celebrities and a supporting crew of 20 spent 40 days in Buenos Aires in December- January. The Indian cameramen were fascinated with the fantastic sceneries of the El Calafate Glacier and the Iguazu Waterfalls and could not stop shooting....

Another surprising Argentine connection...It is not only the images of Argentina which will be seen in India these days. The Indians have also started listening to the music composed by an Argentine in the Amir Khan film ¨Dhobi Ghat¨released on 21 January 2011. Yes...Gustavo Santaolalla, the music director of the film, is an Argentine. Gustavo is a pioneer in the rock music scene of Argentina in the late sixties and seventies. He later moved to Los Angeles and started working with Hollywood. He won two Oscar awards for his music in the films ¨Broke back mountain¨and ¨Babel¨.

The Director of the film Kiran Rao is visiting Argentina in March 2011 for the screening of her film at the Pinamar Film Festival.

These two are the latest examples of the exploration of Latin America by the Indian entertainment industry. The region has exotic and attractive locations for Indian film shootings. Dhoom II was shot in Rio and a scene for Robot was shot in Machu Pichu in which Rajnikant danced with Aishwar Rai. In August 2010 Priyanka Chopra was in Rio for shooting the show ¨Fear factor¨.

Latin America has also offered stars for Bollywood. Mexican actress Barbara Mori was the heroine with Hrithikesh Roshan in the film ¨Kites¨released in 2010. A Brazilian actress Giselle Monteiro has acted in the film Love aaj kal in a supporting role. Many in India thought she was an Indian because of her café con lech ( coffee with milk ) colour of the skin. The success of these two have given rise to a new category of Latin American visa applicants at the Indian embassies. Young boys and girls want to go to Bollywood and also for modelling in India.

Illusion Studios of Buenos Aires in technical collaboration with Toonz Animation Ltd of Trivandrum produced a cartoon film ¨Gaturro¨ which was a box office hit in Argentina in 2010.This is now being dubbed in English for the global audience. Gaturro is the product of Argentine humour and imagination combined with Indian software and technology. It is a 90 minute 3D animated cartoon film, the first-ever to be produced in Latin America.

Gaturro is a popular comic character created by the famous Argentine cartoonist Christian Dzwonik (Nik ). He has used Gaturro to make jokes on Argentine politics, society and everyday life. The Embassy of India organised a Children´s Festival with this film during the Festival of India in November 2010.

The prime time Brazilian soap opera ¨Camino das Indias¨ telecast for eight months in 2009 by the Brazilian TV network Globo was a huge hit. It was a story about India with Brazilian actors. It had a profound impact. The Brazilians have started greeting Indians with Namaste and taking them by surprise by asking if they are Brahmins or Dalits. The Girls from Ipanema are now putting bindis matching with their bikinis. Exports of Indian ethnic dress, decoration items and Ganesh idols have skyrocketed. The soap opera has been dubbed in Spanish and is being shown in the rest of Latin America.

Bollywood Dancing is the latest craze in Latin America. The Bollywood Dance shows in the last two Festivals of India in 2009 and 2010 in Buenos Aires were the top hits.

Latin Americans have started taking Indian films seriously and enjoying them. The video rental stores in Buenos Aires have a number of Bollywood films. The Indian Film shows during the last three Festivals of India attracted long queues of Argentines and the Embassy had to extend the film festivals for about a month. My biggest surprise was when the 13-year old Margarita, the daughter of the Argentine Patel ( see my blog on him ) who visited India with her parents recently, showed me proudly her two favourite DVDs: Three idiots and Water.... The facebook of the Embassy has messages from Argentine girls asking about Shah Rukh and Salman Khans.

An Argentine director Pablo Cesar is working on a coproduction film ¨Thinking of Him¨ based on the romantic story of Tagore´s encounter with Victoria O´Campo in Buenos Aires. He is looking for an Indian coproducer. This film would be one of the highlights of the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore being celebrated this year.

Samba and salsa, tango and carnival and the Latino way of having fun and fiestas have caught the imagination of Indians and especially the globalising IT generation. Salsa classes are proliferating in Indian cities along with spanish language institutes. On the other hand, the younger generation of the 530 million population of Latin America have started getting excited by the Bollywood films. My bet ...this blossoming mutual interest and excitement is a fantastic business opportunity for the Indian entertainment industry which is looking for new ideas, faces and shooting locations....

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