India-Latin America ties grow stronger with Bollywood

New Delhi, Feb 2 (Calcutta Tube) When Latin American girls start wearing bindis, enquire about Indian superstars and Bollywood badshah Shah Rukh Khan shoots a whole TV series in splendid Argentine locales, there is little doubt that entertainment ties between the two regions are flourishing.

Shah Rukh’s TV game show ‘Zor Ka Jhakta’, which goes on air Tuesday, is the latest to reaffirm these growing bonds. A team of 28 Indian TV and film celebrities and a supporting crew of 20 spent 40 days in Buenos Aires between December-January to shoot the show.

‘Images of Argentina will appear when Shah Rukh Khan hosts ‘Wipe Out’ (‘Zor Ka Jhakta’) show from Feb 1 to 16 at 9 p.m. on the Indian TV Channel Imagine. Before each episode, there will be videos of Argentina,’ R. Viswanathan, Indian ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, wrote on his blog.

‘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 Aamir 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 ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and ‘Babel’,’ wrote Viswanathan.

‘Dhobi Ghat’ director Kiran Rao will visit Argentina next month for the screening of her film at the Pinamar film festival.

These are the latest examples of the exploration of Latin America by the Indian entertainment industry. The region has exotic and attractive locations for film shootings and Indian filmmakers had explored it earlier also.

”Dhoom II’ was shot in Rio and a scene for ‘Robot’ was shot in Machu Pichu in which Rajnikanth danced with Aishwarya Rai. In August 2010, Priyanka Chopra was in Rio for shooting the show, ‘Fear Factor’,’ he wrote.

Not only this, after Barbara Mori and Giselle Monteiro’s popularity post ‘Kites’ and ‘Love Aaj Kal’ respectively, there are many youngsters from Latin America who are keen to try their luck in Bollywood.

‘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,’ wrote Viswanathan.

Technopark based animation major Toonz Animation India Pvt Ltd and Buenos Aires Illusion Studios collaborated to produce 3D cartoon film ‘Gaturro’. Based on comic character created by the famous Argentine cartoonist Christian Dzwonik (Nik), the film was a hit in Argentina last year.

‘The Embassy of India organised a Children’s Festival with this film during the Festival of India in November 2010.’

Director Pablo Cesar is working on a co-production ‘Thinking of Him’, based on a romantic story of Tagore’s encounter with Victoria O’Campo in Buenos Aires.

‘He is looking for an Indian co-producer. This film would be one of the highlights of the 150th birth anniversary of (Rabindranath) Tagore being celebrated this year.’

From bindis to Ganesh idols, the Indian flavour is becoming popular among the locals, thanks to the Brazilian soap opera ‘Camino das Indias’ that ran for eight months in 2009 on Brazilian Globo.

‘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.’

Another craze in Latin America is Bollywood dancing, which was a hit during the festivals of India in 2009 and 2010 in Buenos Aires. And people have also started taking Indian films seriously.

‘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.

‘The facebook of the embassy has messages from Argentine girls asking about Shah Rukh and Salman Khan.

While in India, ‘Samba and salsa, tango and carnival and the Latino way of having fun and fiestas have already caught the imagination of Indians and especially the globalising IT generation,’ wrote Viswanathan.

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