South Africa loves Bollywood films on TV!

By Fakir Hassen, IANS
11/6/2004 12:00:00 AM

Bollywood crazy Poles are heading to India increasingly in large numbers. And Indian spirituality is also attracting Poles, who until a few years ago were looking only towards Western Europe and the US.

Download Rang De Basanti Wallpapers"In the last few months, the Indian embassy has been issuing close to 1,150 visas a month, which is an increase of over 50 percent over the corresponding months last year," Anil Wadhwa, India's ambassador to Poland, told IANS.

That citizens of India and Poland are not charged visa fees under a 1973 agreement makes the trip even more convenient.

At the same time, Bollywood is also coming to Poland - to shoot. Snow-capped Zakopane, Poland's premier mountain resort, was one of the locations of the upcoming Aamir Khan-Kajol starrer "Fanaah".

Several Bollywood films, particularly Shah Rukh Khan's movies "Main Hoon Na", "Kal Ho Na Ho" and "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham", have also proved to be great hits in this country.

Download Kal Ho Naa Ho WallpapersThere is an increasing craze among Polish youngsters for Indian films and songs, which can be seen and heard on television and radio.

A growing number of Indian companies too are investing in the Polish economy or scouting for opportunities.

"As the Indian economic boom continues and Poland attains an important place in the European Union, a tourism boom riding on the back of a massive increase in bilateral trade of 43 percent in 2005 is on the anvil," said Wadhwa.

This surge in trade and tourism has revived keenness of authorities here to commence direct flights between the two countries, which were discontinued in 1992 as Poland started looking more towards Europe and the US.

"The fact that Indian tourists are the largest spenders in countries like Malayasia, Singapore, the UAE, Switzerland and Britain has revived the interest of Polish authorities to look more closely at India," said Subhash Goyal, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators and head of Stic Travels.

Download Main Hoon Na WallpapersOn March 1, a large number of tour operators and travel and tourism representatives from India attended a reception hosted by the Polish ministry of economy, Polish tourism organisation and the Polish chamber of tourism.

Poland is keen to have more Indian tourists in order to boost not only its conventional but also health tourism. Possibilities of starting chartered flights in addition to direct flights between the two countries are being explored.

Many Poles are also turning to India in their quest for spirituality. A large number of them had gone to Bangalore to attend the 25th anniversary celebrations of spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living foundation last month.