When it comes to the Americas, India’s interaction with that region, for a long time, has been restricted to countries like the US and Canada. Even India’s skilled labor, who would go abroad to work, would either go to US/Canada or somewhere in Europe and a few countries in the Middle-East & Asia. Same with the tourists.
But only in recent years, India’s interaction with Latin America has increased, and a big part of that achievement goes to Bollywood. In recent years India’s film industry has gone places, and has been lapped up by the Latin Americans as well. Indian cinema has become hugely popular in this region, paving the way for the Indian diplomacy to build better relationships.
Difference Between Latin & South America
Did you think both Latin America & South America was the same? Well, they’re almost with these differences.
- South America is a continent whereas Latin America is an imaginary area covering most of South America and some southern regions of North America.
- South America relates to geographical location whereas Latin America is a cultural entity where the word ‘Latin’ refers to Americans speaking one of the romance languages – Portuguese, Spanish or French (they are also known as Latinos in the country)
Reach of Bollywood
Here are some of the instances that demonstrate the inroads that Bollywood has made into Latin America. Bollywood also looks to Latin America for inspiration.
- Rajnikanth/Shankar’s Robot (Endhiran) had a song that was filmed in Mount Picchu (heritage site in Peru)
- Dhoom 2 was among the first few Indian movies to be shot (one song) in Rio De Janeiro. Peru’s pop sensation Mia Mont sang the Spanish title track of Dhoom 3 and the track was quite popular.
- Popular TV Serial on Sony TV “Jassi jaisi koi nahi” (featuring Mona Singh) was an import from Colombia – Yo soy Betty, la fea.
- ‘Ladies Vs Ricky Behl’ is to be remade in Spanish for the Colombian market. Yash Raj Films have struck a deal with Colombia’s 64-A Films.
Dhoom Machale song in Spanish, sung by Mia Mont
Bollywood’s relationship with Latin America goes back to the 1970s, and today that region is considered as an export center, with good potential, for Indian films.
John Bellido, head of Lima-based Indian Cinema Fan Association and a big Bollywood fan says “Peru is no stranger to the phenomenon called Bollywood. Bollywood movies have been rooted in Peruvian hearts for so long. In the 70s, many Indian cinemas, very dramatic cinema including ‘Mother India’ and ‘Mera Naam Joker’ were a success in its time.”
Countries Seeking Bollywood’s Expertise
There are many countries who turn to India to provide expertise to revive their ailing local film industries.
Venezuela is one such country in Latin America, that turned to Bollywood professionals in order to breathe new life into its production industry. Venezuela’s Foreign Minister in a visit to New Delhi had said, “The goal is for Bollywood professionals to train the technicians, screenwriters and producers of the emerging Venezuelan film industry.”
Venezuelans have a rich cultural heritage and Venezuelans are just mad about beauty pageant competitions. No wonder they end up winning most of the international beauty pageant competitions. Venezuela also happens to be one of India’s largest trading partners.
India’s Foreign Policy
Experts feel that while most countries may have looked at Latin America through a U.S. prism in the past, India seems to look at the region from a Brazilian perspective, considering both these countries are partners on various forums and the two countries are backing each other for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.
But then many feel that it’s time India broadened its vision and act to harness the economic potential of the entire Latin American region. Many Latin American countries (with their huge potential market for services) have not received India’s due attention. Experts also feel that New Delhi needs to reciprocate the visits made by several Latin American heads of states and not just restrict to countries like Brazil, Cuba and Chile.
In recent times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on several occasions, has spoken about the need to harness India’s Soft Power.
India is indeed a rich nation as far as soft power is concerned; we just need to market it better. And tweaking India’s foreign policy with regards to entire Latin America would be one step in that direction. That would definitely broaden our interests beyond Football, Music & dance – the three things that we Indians like the most about Latin America.