Indian cinema's time to shine

Indian cinema's time to shine
PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review

MUMBAI/SINGAPORE - Indian cinema is making its way to screens around the world and making waves. Bollywood, as the mainstream Hindi-language film industry is popularly known, has produced superstars like Akshay Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan whose paychecks rival -- or even surpass -- those of Hollywood A-listers.

The film industry has also caught Hollywood's eye, with moguls cozying up to their Bollywood counterparts. And while the stereotype of the song-and-dance epic is hard to shake, filmmakers are cultivating a wider audience with more nuanced productions.

On a Sunday night in late September, laughter erupted inside a cinema at a shopping mall in central Singapore, where "Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon," a newly released Hindi-language romantic comedy, was being shown.

Khusbu Tiwari, a 25-year-old legal secretary, comes to the cinema to watch Indian films "almost every other week." Tiwari, whose grandparents hail from northern India, speaks Hindi fluently. "Watching Hindi films helps me relate back to my roots," she said.

Demand for Indian films is rising as more people from India and neighbouring countries come to Southeast Asia to work. Theater operators are beginning to offer a variety of Indian movies. Singapore's Golden Village Multiplex, which operates 11 cinemas around the city-state, has screened 19 Indian films since the beginning of the year, compared with just three in all of 2014. It began showing Hindi films regularly in 2005, adding Tamil movies in the past few years along with some in Malayalam, another southern Indian language.

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