Even though, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was the first Bollywood film to have a release in Israel (with subtitles in Hebrew), since Devdas in 2002, there is no denying that Indian films are quite popular in this country.
Few years back, a delegation of Bollywood producers were in Israel to attend the Jerusalem International Film Festival (JIFF) and also to meet Israeli film professionals and technology experts, and also to scout for filming locations.
Places like Tel Aviv, Masada and the Dead Sea featured on the agenda of the Indian delegation. Israel is keen to develop better ties with Bollywood, given it’s stature as one of the biggest film industries in the world. On the other hand, India is also looking at ways to capitalize on the huge demand for Hindi movies here in this Jewish country.
Indian Movies in Israel
There is a huge demand for Hindi movies here, as the local Indian population as well as a lot of Israelis are quite fond of Indian movies.
In general, there’s a lot of appeal for Indian culture in the local population, who treat Indians with respect.
The Indian Jews strength is estimated to be above 50,000 in Israel, and they are among the biggest fans of Bollywood movies & music.
Their annual congregation (Hodu Yada) has youngsters singing as well as dancing to evergreen Bollywood songs. In fact, the orchestra performing at such events is usually called from India to make it eveb more authentic.
After a Long Gap
But then why is a movie releasing after such a huge gap?
Firstly, the absence of a distributor meant Bollywood films could not be screened. However, that has changed as an Israeli distributor has invested in a portable projector, which allows them to showcase movies at different locations at a much lesser cost.
Secondly, there was no conscious effort from the Indian filmmakers to market their films in this part of the world. But that seems to be changing.
Bollywood Music is a Rage
With access to shows such as “Indian Idol” and “Nach Baliye”, Israeli youths are showing keen interest in Indian film music and dance, especially those who have parents from India.
No wonder that in cities with heavy Indian populations, such as Beersheba, Tel Aviv and Dimona, youngsters are showing high levels of interest in film music and many are taking classes to learn to sing as well as dance to Hindi film songs.
Scenario in Gaza
There’s no prizes for guessing this one….
Amitabh Bachchan is the overwhelming favorite here, and Sholay is shown several times every year, by almost all the TV channels. It would be rare to see a Bachchan starrer missing from a DVD store. In fact, such is the demand for new Hindi film releases that you really have to be on your toes to get it immediately.
In Gaza, Hindi films shown by different TV channels continue to attract large audiences, and can actually bring all activities to a halt on Fridays and Saturdays (if it features the Big B). Some of the most densely populated refugee camps come to a standstill on the weekends during the screening of Hindi films by TV channels.
Several channels on the Arabsat and Nilesat networks, as well as channels such as Bahrain 55, Infinity, Ritmo, Kuwait Channel 2 and Eritrea channel show hindi movies regularly, and are quite popular with the Gaza populace.
Most find the Hindi movies colorful and lively, and are a good distraction from the hardships that people face in this region.
Israeli Actors in Bollywood
We all know that Bollywood is growing big and fast, and actors/performers from various parts of the world are keen to be a part of this growth.
We also have participation from Israel now!
Israeli actress Orika will make her Bollywood debut in Bawaria Gang – The True Story (2013), written and directed by Dinkar Rao. It is based on the gangsters of Northern India.
Top 10 Things to See and Do in Israel
Here are the top attractions in Israel, in no particular order…
- Float in the Dead Sea
- Tour the Old City of Jerusalem
- Haggle in the Carmel Market, Tel Aviv
- Snorkel or scuba in the Red Sea, Eilat
- Visit Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
- Stand at the edge of the Ramon Crater
- Enjoy a sunset on Tel Aviv beach
- Visit the mountain fortress of Masada
- Marvel at the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa
- Have a night out in the City That Never Sleeps, Tel Aviv