Bollywood returns to Egypt after 25 years

Cairo, Oct 1 (IANS) Come Wednesday and Bollywood will return to Egypt after 25 years with the release of Shah Rukh Khan-Deepika Padukone starrer "Chennai Express", the event coinciding with celebrations back home of 100 years of Indian cinema.

Speaking at a media reception here Monday, Indian Ambassador Navdeep Suri said he was amazed at the love and affection Egyptians had for Indian cinema even when these did not play in theaters.

"It was an odd situation. India is the world's biggest producer of feature films; Indian films are screened in over 90 countries; Egyptians clearly love Indian films. And yet, they couldn't find their favourite Indian films on the big screen!

"That's where we intervened to connect Egyptian distribution channels with Indian film producers. I am delighted that they have come together to meet the demand of Egyptian audiences," Suri added.

Speaking on the occasion, Cairo International Film Festival President Samir Farid said Indian cinema has a long tradition and that was reflected in its global influence.

He further said that it was the right of Egyptian audiences to have the opportunity to see Indian films in theatres.

Egyptian actress Aida al-Kashef, the lead actress in the critically acclaimed Indian movie "Ship of Theseus", expressed her delight at the development, adding that working with an Indian director for her movie was a great experience.

She hoped that a strong return by Indian movies would encourage further collaboration between Indian and Egyptian film industries.

A number of young Egyptians, including the coordinator of the Discover India in Egypt group, Maiosh Khafagi, also spoke on the occasion as to how they had been attracted to Indian culture and cinema.

Khafagi said that Bollywood would prove to be a strong challenger to Hollywood in Egypt due to the love of Indian cinema among youth.

The evening's programme also included a Bollywood dance performance by Egyptian artist Sameera and a short film tracing 100 years of Indian cinema and highlighting some of the cinematic links between India and Egypt.

Egyptian actress Lubna Abdel Aziz was also present on the occasion.

United Motion Pictures, facilitated by Gaurang Films and the Indian embassy in Cairo, will release "Chennai Express" in Cairo and Alexandria. In the initial run, the movie will run in eight theatres in Cairo and two in Alexandria, including all major theatres and multiplexes. The film will carry Arabic subtitles.

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