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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Bollywood takes South Africa
Bollywood dancing
Traditional singing and dancing is the big draw for South Africans
The Indian film industry has begun a major effort to market its movies abroad - and nowhere is this strategy having more success than in South Africa.

The substantial Indian population in the country assures box office successes for many Bollywood products. Crowds flocked to Johannesburg during the recent International Indian Film Awards for a glimpse of some of India's biggest stars.

The likes of Salman Khan, Sunil Shetty and Bipasha Basu all travelled to the city, giving the fans the rare treat of seeing them in the flesh.

"To see your own culture, to live it away from home, is very enriching," one Johannesburg accountant, a third-generation South African Indian, told BBC World Service's The Ticket programme.

Many of the fans were dressed like the stars, and some even sang in an attempt to impress their heroes.


The enthusiasm for Bollywood is mainly centred on the huge South African Indian disaspora, which is in turn affecting the type of film that is proving successful.

The demand is proving to be for classic style movies, based on traditional musical numbers.

South Africans are seeking the "glorified wedding video"
"Most people I spoke to, I teased them by saying 'you like Indian films that are just glorified wedding videos'," says Nyay Bhushan, who covered the International Indian Film Awards for The Ticket.

"They would laugh along and say 'That may be true, but that's what we want'."

This is in contrast to the latest style in Bollywood, which - with films such as Jism - has begun to mimic Hollywood in terms of the depiction of women, with the onscreen kiss no longer taboo.

However, the success of Indian films in South Africa is having a further cultural impact in the country.

"Indian films are about music, so the music is starting to get popular," Bhushan said, adding that a massive after-show party had been based on remixes of Bollywood songs.

"The DJ was trying to mix hip-hop with a really popular Indian tune," he said.

"The nightclubs are starting to open up to Bollywood music."

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