Bollywood hopes Japan fans are in it forever
Tokyo: In the 1990s, one of the most popular foreign movie stars in Japan was an Indian actor named Rajinikanth, whose movies were pure "masala" cinema with an enthusiastic mix of action, comedy, romance, melodrama and music that made no concession to anything but the will to entertain.
Kyoko Dan, a Kobe-based movie publicist who works with Asian producers said that in Japan, Rajinikanth's 1995 film 'Muthu, Dancing Maharajah' was a big phenomenon and so when the country people hear about Indian films many think of 'Muthu,' the Japan Times reported.
According to Avtar Panesar, vice president of international operations for Yash Raj Films, Japan is being perceived as a very fad-oriented market.
He said that Yash Raj is releasing four features in the country in the next few months, including- 'Ek Tha Tiger' and 'Three Idiots', as their idea is not to do a one-movie deal but they want to work with someone who will take the plunge.
Panesar said that 'Om Shanti Om', which at the time of its release in 2007 was the biggest grossing Hindi language film domestically, as well as the widest ever global release for an Indian production, is finally enjoying a theatrical run in Japan thanks to local art movie/documentary distributor Uplink.
He said that the flick was seen as a movie that bridged the gap between the multiplex audience and the "single screen culture."
If Japan's interest in Bollywood turns out to be more than a fad, producers will be happy to film here.
Panesar said that filmmaker Kabir Khan is developing a script, which is based on the Indian Army's alliance with the Japanese military during World War II to fight the former's colonial masters, the British, but even if the movie doesn't require Japan locations, they can shoot in the country.
Panesar added that he has been in contact with regional film commissions in the Kansai region to discuss such possibilities, since a requirement of modern Bollywood is foreign settings, no matter how gratuitous.