Tourist town of Saint-Tropez plans Indian film festival in 2012, which it has dedicated as the Year of India
After having Aishwarya Rai at Cannes, and Mallika Sherawat soon afterwards, the French want more of Bollywood and perhaps a lot more of India. Saint-Tropez, the picturesque tourist town in southeast France, has decided to dedicate 2012 as the year of India, strengthening the relationship between the two peoples. The highlight will be an Indian film festival which, it is hoped, can become an annual event. This was announced by Claude Maniscalco, director of Saint-Tropez Tourism, earlier this week.
"As a part of strengthening our bonds with India, we are working on creating a film festival, which will benefit the Indian producers and entertain the public. People there are fascinated with Bollywood, but they do not understand the films. We want them to enjoy desi movies," Mr Maniscalco said. He is visiting the ongoing International Film Festival of India in Goa to gain an "insight" into the workings of Bollywood.
The celebrations will include dance, music and other cultural programmes, fashion shows, polo and golf competitions. The special interest in Indian films should not come as a surprise.
During the past decade, Europe has borne witness to the rising popularity of Hindi films-a dazzling and at the same time intriguing phenomenon. The excesses, once looked down upon by European audiences, have now turned immensely popular. Blockbusters like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and Lagaan, have all done extremely well abroad, and even domestic flops like Dil Se, Asoka and Yaadein have been hits in Europe.
This success cannot to be attributed to the Indian diaspora alone. Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Rajnikanth can now boast of a tremendous fan base outside India, among foreigners too. So much so, nearly all big-budget Bollywood projects nowadays have at least one European and one American premiere. With such an increasing global presence, its understandable that filmwallahs abroad would be interested in a share of the Bollywood pie.
Mr Maniscalco explained that holding an Indian film festival in France would also provide Indian filmmakers an opportunity to acquire technical knowledge from that part of the film world. He also said that Saint-Tropez has a film council, which would be happy to assist Indian filmmakers to market their productions across the continent.
Oh yes, and what a tourism brochure it would make! Bollywood has always favoured foreign locations (initially it was only some song-and-dance routines; today entire films are being shot abroad), multiplying the fantasies for Indian audiences. It's also a lot easier on our filmmakers, who are otherwise hassled by licences, formalities and worse within India.
Now, here's an open invitation for Bollywood, in the hope that it will draw India's growing affluent class to the town located on the French Riviera. After the tulip fields of Holland and the scenic Alps of Switzerland, we could have a brand new Mediterranean location. Good luck, or as they wish in French, 'bonne chance'!