Mon. May 29th, 2023

If I had a dirham for every “Sharookaan! Amitabacchan!!” I was smilingly greeted with — one flowing word, never two — during my short stay in Morocco, each time I went in and out of the venue of the Marrakech International Film Festival, I would have returned with a heavy piggy bank. A lovely young usher sang out “Namaste”, stopping to chat with me in halting but clear Hindi, and when I asked her how she speaks it so well, she said she is a big fan of Hindi movies.
Bollywood star Ranveer Singh, who was handed a retrospective at the 19th edition of the festival, held in November gracefully acknowledged the big shoes he was stepping into, even as he charmed everyone in sight. Singh’s red-carpet appearances were a total pandemonium, complete with screaming fans, cameras held aloft for selfies. Even the more formal platform where he was in conversation with a festival programmer, with accredited professionals in attendance, turned out to be a rah-rah event. They may as well have called it the Ranveer International Film Festival.
You would expect this kind of mela to happen back home, but in a small town in North Africa? Where French, Arabic and Spanish are spoken, and English is mostly a language to be seen in film subtitles? That is the power of Bollywood, and you can see it in the way Singh was feted not just by the festival organisers, who had both Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan as their guests, but by those who showed up to watch his films. The craze around Singh proved that in this part of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in so many other parts of the world, Bollywood rules.
So who is the biggest Bollywood star globally? Bachchan, who has reigned for over 50 years, is still a force. SRK commands the biggest crowds in any part of the world. His fanbase in Germany is unreal, from the time he shot for Don 2 (2011) in Berlin, and his subsequent red carpet appearances at the Berlinale. But the German city has also created a special place in its heart for Singh, whose world premiere of Gully Boy (2019) was full to bursting.

But the thing that boosts stardom is cinema, and even though SRK’s sway doesn’t seem to have been affected by his last few films’ performances, at least until now, a couple more slack results are bound to hurt. Singh’s Jayeshbhai Jordaar was a snooze (his latest Cirkus isn’t out at the time of writing), and he will need to keep up the momentum to keep his standing steady.

Among the top-flight female stars, Priyanka Chopra is creating space for herself globally, even if it’s not the kind of stardom that drives fan hysteria. Deepika Padukone is also now a recognisable name, with inclusions on big ticket juries as well as red carpets. Alia Bhatt’s Hollywood debut Heart Of Stone, will be out mid-next year on Netflix (her Darlings, one of the better Bollywood films this year, is on it, too). The steady involvement of streaming platforms in creating original content, and making acquisitions available in several countries, is fashioning the quantum of recognition that people in showbiz had never dreamt of.
And who will be the newest face to lay claim to that space? Can it be Kartik Aaryan, whose soaring popularity appears effortlessly to surmount his performances? He hasn’t got a film that can travel, not yet. But who knows? Anything can happen at the movies.
The thing that makes a Christmas lunch extra special

Shubhra GuptaShubhra Gupta is film critic and senior columnist with the Indian Expr… read more


By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *