Cinema (2018 | Issue 4)

Download print version

Believe it or not, Bollywood is really popular in Germany, especially among women! It has a presence at the Berlinale and at dedicated film festivals. Today, Germany is the second-largest Bollywood market in Europe, trailing only behind the UK. What’s Up, Germany? explores Deutschland’s love for all things Bollywood.

So what’s the secret behind Hindi films’ popularity in Germany? Well, they’re high on emotion. They make you laugh. They make you cry. And that seems to have gone down well with Germans! They thoroughly enjoy the romance, happy endings, colourful extravaganzas and dance sequences. And it all started with King Khan’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. When Shah Rukh attends the Berlin International Film Festival—also known as the Berlinale—fans pour in from all over Germany and Europe. During the shooting of Don2, women waited in the freezing cold just to get a glimpse of him! And if that’s not enough, My Name is Khan got a five-minute standing ovation when it was screened at the Berlinale!

Another major attraction in Hindi films are the choreographed song and dance sequences. This is what makes Bollywood unique in the international film circuit. There are even dance schools teaching sensuous and sizzling Bollywood moves in a number of German cities! The Bollywood Dance Ensemble from Hannover is made up of German women who are happy to show off their newly learnt dance steps at programmes and film festivals in the country and abroad. Bollywood is literally everywhere! Chaa gaya!

The city of Stuttgart hosts the largest Indian film festival in Europe. More than 5,000 people attended the festival in 2018! This five-day-long festival, organised by the Filmbüro Baden-Württemberg, shows a great variety, from blockbusters to indie films, regional language movies to documentaries and shorts. In 2018, director Rahul Nair’s Ottamuri Velicham (Light in the Room) won the German Star of India award. Along with film screenings, there are panel discussions, music and dance programmes, and Indian food and drinks.

In 2016, the free-to-air channel ZeeOne was launched for the German market with the tagline “I feel Bolly good”. Broadcasting movies, TV series and music videos, this dedicated Bollywood channel caters largely to women in the age group of 19–59. Guess who was there for the launch? Who else? Shah Rukh Khan!