THIS ARTICLE IS ALL ABOUT THE CULTURAL BOND BETWEEN INDIA AND AFRICA…
READ AHEAD BELOW TO KNOW ABOUT THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP THAT AFRICA HAS WITH THE ENTERTAINMENT AND MOVIE INDUSTRY OF INDIA, BOLLYWOOD.
We have all heard international superstar Akon’s Indian hit. Tens of millions throughout the rest of the world have been dancing to Chammak Challo for weeks. Why?
Because the catchy tune is the musical centerpiece of the Bollywood sci-fi blockbuster Ra. One, whose (super) hero is no other than Shahrukh Khan, one of the most popular actors in the world.
Akon, a Senegalese, sings in Hindi has not come as a surprise to Africans.
They have been singing Bollywood tunes in Hindi for 60 years.
Indian cinema arrived in West Africa in the early 1950s and people instantly related to it.
Like them, Indians revered the family and the elders, dressed in long tunics, ate with their fingers and carried loads on their heads. There were turbans and veils, cows in the streets, vibrant colors, large weddings, multi-generational households, songs, dances, tabla drumming, and romantic love.
More significantly, arranged marriages, caste barriers, and the importance of morality, honor, family name and religion were all topics central to Bollywood and to African societies. Life under and the struggle against colonialism; the poor, the exploited and the oppressed as central characters; and mythology — issues European and American cinemas completely ignored — strongly resonated on the continent. Bollywood offered a model of cultural resistance and a path between tradition and modernity. Bollywood enhanced the relationship between Africa and India.
Although they were neither dubbed nor sub-titled, people flocked to Hindi films. After seeing a movie several times — and because of the recurrent themes — they understood enough Hindi to navigate the plots.
Senegal — popularly known as the most Indianophile West African country — counts more than 40 Indian clubs: men and women, young and old dress, sing, and dance Indian style; and the Miss Hindu competition was held there for several years.
The most-watched program on RDV TV is India in Senegal, and Allo Bombay follows Bollywood news.
In Dakar, an Indian who owns a video store gives dance and Hindi classes several times a week.
In Northern Nigeria, the Islamic resurgence that followed the Iranian revolution in 1979 has re-framed the immense popularity of Bollywood.
Islamic schools’ girls’ choirs, as well as a male Sufi group, Society for the Lovers of India, sing Bollywood soundtracks with Hausa lyrics praising the Prophet Muhammad. Sufi movies and Sufi songs are a common favorite.
Indian films have inspired Hausa musicians, poets, and writers; and since the 1990s a local film industry on video, influenced by Bollywood, is popular among Hausa in Nigeria.
Bollywood has enough films on corruption, love, women’s struggles, terrorism, and religious issues to satisfy an African audience and that is why it remains rooted till date in African countries. It is also greatly influenced by the culture of the African Diaspora. After song and dance routines met funk, disco, Michael Jackson, and hip-hop, they were never the same.
For an instance, when Pallavi Kulkarni, the heroine of the immensely popular series Vaidehi, visited Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire last year, throngs of people lined the streets in a welcome that had not been seen in Dakar since the Senegalese soccer team returned from the quarter-final of the World Cup in 2002.
Now with Akon and his perfect Hindi, there is one more reason for Africans to love Bollywood, and for India to expand its cultural and economic reach on the continent.
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