Bollywood, an affectionate name for the Hindi-language film industry established in Mumbai, India, is a multibillion dollar business. But now they seek to expand their audience even further.
Bollywood's next move? Latin America. But will they manage to conquer the hearts and capture the attention of Spanish-speaking movie-goers? Hindi filmmaker UTV Motion Pictures wants to find out.
Latin America as a new market is a focus for us. The Indian population is limited in Peru, which makes it even more significant an achievement to have managed a release for the film there. We're looking forward to the Guzaarish release in Peru.
With the worldwide success achieved by a number of Bollywood films, Latin America seems like a smart market to go after. Bollywood films have enjoyed a global following in the diasporic South Asian community for generations, but it's only been in the past decade that these films have benefited from considerable attention by Anglo-American and other non-Hindi speaking audiences, as evidenced by the success of such recent films as "My Name is Khan" and "3 Idiots."
Now Spanish-speakers will have a chance to check out the genre. "Guzaarish", meaning "Request" in English, will be the first Hindi film to test the waters in Latin America. Starring Indian actors, Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, the drama-romance about a professional magician who is left quadriplegic and wanting to end his life after a magic trick goes wrong, is set to be released in Peru in February 2012.
"Guzaarish" deals with the serious subject of euthanasia and received a four out of five star review from The Times of India which called it, "one of the most unusual love stories of recent times." The fact that the film has already won recognition in markets outside of India, including in France, gives UTV Motion Pictures reason to be hopeful about its reception in Latin America.
"Latin America as a new market is a focus for us. The Indian population is limited in Peru, which makes it even more significant an achievement to have managed a release for the film there. We're looking forward to the Guzaarish release in Peru," said Amrita Pandey, Senior Vice President of International Distribution and Syndication at UTV Motion Pictures.
"Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu" meaning, "You and I" in English is another Bollywood film on its way to Latin America. Starring Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor, the plot of this hip romantic comedy has been compared by some to the American film, "What Happens in Vegas" and the Mexican film, "Recien Cazado." Trailers of "Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu" have been translated to Spanish and will also be coming soon to theaters in Peru.
While it's difficult to predict the success of such ventures, it seems that traditional Bollywood films, known for their dramatic and romantic themes which can often times come across as a little cheesy –would do quite well with Spanish-speaking audiences; after all, this also describes an already well-loved Latin American phenomenon – the telenovela.
Tracy López is a bilingual writer living outside the Washington DC metro area. She is the founder of Latinaish.com.