Bollywood eyes Mideast as its biggest moneyspinner

‘London Paris New York’ world premiere sees its producers tap into the lucrative cinematic market that caters to Asians and the Arabs of the region

It sounds odd that a film titled “London Paris New York” would host its world premiere in Dubai but that is the power of the penny spent here that has transformed this region into the largest overseas market for Bollywood today.

Fox Star Studios CEO, Vijay Singh, confirmed the same, saying: “Two years ago, we hosted the premiere of “My Name is Khan” in the UAE, which still holds the number one position for an Indian film across the GCC.

“In these two years, the state of business has transformed so dramatically, whereby once where the UK and the US were considered the biggest markets for showbiz has now become the Middle East.”

Lead actor, Ali Zafar echoed the statement saying: “The large Asian diaspora in the Middle East ensures that our film has a strong market base here. Bollywood sells, and that is a fact.”

Since the turn of 2012, Dubai alone has hosted several Bollywood film world premieres, including that of “Players”, which albeit bombed at the global box office, but did see a very warm welcome for its lead cast, including Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor and Bipasha Basu, amongst others, who turned up dressed to the nines to walk the red carpet.

Following this, smaller films such as “Galli Galli Chor Hai” with Akshaye Khanna and “Pappu Can’t Dance Salla” with Neha Dhupia have also seen their lead stars strut their stuff at first show screenings in a neighbourhood near you.

And the buck of course doesn’t stop there for Q1 2012, with next week seeing Vidya Balan attempt to charm local fans and media once again for the premiere screening of her film, “Kahaani”, which will be held here on March 7.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, film producer Kunal Kohli, who held the world premiere of his film “Break Ke Baad” in Dubai last year, echoed what Singh said earlier: “In the past, the Middle East is the third largest overseas market for Bollywood films, after the United States and the United Kingdom. We predict there is a lot of room for growth for Indian cinema here, and if organising premieres here gets the buzz going then that is one step forward for us.”

According to Kohli, a third of any big budget Bollywood film’s total box office collections are garnered from overseas earnings, with the Middle East region accounting for 20 to 25 per cent of that.

“Over the next few years, we can expect that figure to rise by at least another 10 percentage points considering we have such a large Indian diaspora here, coupled with the fact that Bollywood has gained potential in crossing over to appeal to a different, international audience in recent years,” he added.

But others have a different take.

Talking to Emirates 24|7 earlier, actor Akshay Kumar who has been to Dubai for the world premiere of his film, “Action Replayy” and later to promote “Desi Boyz”, said: “Having a premiere here just works, considering the weekend here is a day earlier than India and the close proximity to India allows us to jet in for a day and wow our fans.” (Emirates 24/7)