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Bollywood in Paris

As an Indian, movies are a major part of our entertainment and leisure system, no matter where in the world we find ourselves. Not just for Indians, Bollywood movies provide masala fun to videshis also.


Yesterday, I was receiving a French friend at home. He readily agreed to watch the Om Shanti Om- the Shahrukh-Deepika starrer. Though lengthy, I could see him thoroughly engrossed in the plot, with punctuated expressions of exclamations in between. His irritation at being distracted was obvious if I asked him to refill his cup of tea. That's Bollywood for foreigners!


When I ask my French friends on their impressions of our movies- it is almost invariable that they find our movies melodramatic, lots of songs and dances in the middle of nowhere, lovely costumes, beautiful Indian women and a happy ending!


It is no wonder that because of such stereotypes, shows like Bharati- Bollywood Musical and Bollywood Show find an audience right here in the heart of Paris. Such shows combine all the ingredients of music, dance, costumes, drama, emotions- all packed in a show that lasts less than an hour. For someone who may not have an immediate chance to visit India, this is a trip in time to a magical and mythical land of culture and colours. Some Parisian dance clubs have regular 'Bollywood Nights'. The required dress code is 'Indian ethnic'. DJs belt out the latest hits from Bollywood movies.

  Bharati- the Bollywood Musical


This is not to say that Bollywood is the only flag bearer of Indian culture. There are a lot of second generation Tamil immigrants, especially from Pondicherry, who are as French as can be, but at the same time attached to their roots through their rigid upbringing. In fact, there are more stores dedicated to Tamil movies than are to the regular Bollywood fare.


DVD of Hindi Movies at Quartier Indien 

If you are searching for a specific movie that you can not usually find elsewhere, a visit to the Indian quarter* is worth it. On the outings to what is popularly known as the 'Quartier Indien' or the Indian Quarter of Paris, one can find many DVD stores selling DVDs for as less as 4 for 10€. It does not take these stores long to put the latest blockbusters on their shelves. For the 'regular' clientèle, mainly French, there are goodies like free posters on substantial purchases!


My last such outing was with a French woman who is the president of the local Shah Rukh Khan fan club. She was very delighted to receive the poster of last movie of her Screen idol, after having spend some Euros on buying her favourite DVDs. Of course, she knows more about Shah Rukh Khan than I ever will !


With a smug expression on her face, a content smile, her arms full of bangles, a bindi on the forehead, she happily tucked her precious DVDs in her 'mirrored' Indian embroidered jhola bag- feeling every bit of Bollywood that runs through her French veins.


On other occasions, I have had the company of French and Indian friends, settling down to a séance of Bollywood, after having spent an evening on a sumptuous dinner. We end up spending the whole nights with back to back movies, with tea and snacks break thrown in between. That's the magic of Indian movies.


For some, it is the showcase to India. In France, where the presence of Cricket is almost negligible, 'Lagaan' did its bit to spread the awareness of the existence of the game and its importance for Indians. Movies like 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum', 'Kamasutra' 'Om Shanti Om' etc are available at mainstream stores like Fnac* or Virgin* in any part of Paris. At bigger stores, the Indian movies are some of the costliest they have by virtue of high 'exotic quotient' that our movies have! One can procure such DVDs -simple or limited/ double DVD edition starting from 20€ onwards. The more popular and recent an Indian movie, the costlier it is likely to be on DVD.



The other day, it was brought to my notice that Om Shanti Om is being promoted (DVD version, of course!) as the best bollywood movie of all times! Though this is one of my personal favourites of recent times, there is only so much to these claims, which are directed at an audience bigger than the Indians trying to maintain a filmy connection to their roots! Here's to you Bollywood for being the show window of the contemporary Indian culture !



*Details of the places mentioned in this article (addresses & how to reach):

Indian Quarter

This is the area around La Chapelle, Gare du Nord and Gare de L'Est- dotted with boutiques from the sub continent, Indian restaurants, Grocery and Saree stores etc. It can be reached by any of these stations:

La Chapelle

Metro: La Chapelle (Line 2)
Bus: 48, 65, 302, 350, 519 (Bus stop: Place de la Chapelle)

Gare du Nord

Metro: Gare du Nord (Line 4, 5)
Bus: 26, 33, 38, 39, 46, 48, 54, 65, 350 (Bus stop: Gare du Nord)
RER: B & D (Station: Gare du Nord)

Gare de L'Est

Metro: Gare de L'Est (Line 4, 5, 7)
Bus: 30, 31, 38, 39, 46, 47, 56, 65, 350 (Gare de L'Est)
SNCF: Gare de L'Est

Fnac Stores

Fnac ( on Champs Elysées)
Galerie du Claridge, 74, avenue des Champs-Elysees, 75008
Tel: +33 (0) 1 53 53 64 00
Metro: Frankin D Roosevelt (Line 1, 9)
Opening Hours:
10:00 AM- Midnight (Monday through Saturday)
12:00 PM- Midnight (Sunday)
Find other Fnac stores in Paris

Virgin Stores

Find out a Virgin store near you



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