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Overseas movie festivals to globalise Bollywood

By Subhash K Jha, IANS

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Buoyed by its success with the festival of classical Indian movies in Britain, Sahara India is moving to the US where it hopes to build on the global aspirations of Bollywood.

The 10-day festival in Britain featured Mehboob Khan's "Mother India", Ramesh Sippy's "Sholay" and Ashutosh Gowariker's "Lagaan" to large attentive audiences.

"This festival is meant to broaden the base of Bollywood through films that have great emotive value for Indians," says Shailendra Singh, managing director of Percept IMC, which has joined hands with Sahara India for this venture.

"This celebration of Indian cinema takes our classics to London, New York and San Francisco. Thousands of people across the world are experiencing the glamour, vibrancy and magic of the largest film industry in the world," he said.

Filmmaker Ramesh Sippy, whose "Sholay" has just been re-issued in Mumbai to a huge audience and critical response, fully backs the endeavour to take the films abroad.

"Why not? It's about time our cinema was judged on its own terms instead of Western or Hollywood yardsticks. I believe 'Sholay' has an appeal and impact that doesn't tie it down to any one specific culture or people."

Amitabh Bachchan, who has been a vocal champion of Indian cinema's global appeal, feels the time is ripe for Bollywood to acquire a sanctity and legitimacy and identity of its own outside home territory.

"I believe films like 'Mother India', 'Ganga Jumna', 'Mughal-e-Azam', my own 'Sholay', 'Lagaan' and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Devdas' and his forthcoming film are of an international calibre without losing their cultural flavour.

"We've the capacity and wherewithal to create our own identity in the West. A festival like the one organised by Sahara can go a long way in familiarizing western audiences with our style of filmmaking," Bachchan said.

With a reported asset base of $10.98 billion, Sahara India is now hugely and fully into the movie business.

With their fingers into as many as 46 large Hindi projects including major films being produced by Boney Kapoor and Ram Gopal Varma, it was the $11 billion Sahara India that decided to take the globalisation of Bollywood cinema very seriously through these festivals.


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