Britons prefer Bollywood :Fanaa, a romantic drama, took more than £300,00
Britons prefer Bollywood
The Telegraph Group Limited
Lonon: For years, its colourful song and dance routines and improbable storylines were merely a source of amusement for British cinemagoers.
But now, for the first time, Bollywood films are more successful in Britain than home-grown productions. Of the record 74 Indian films released in the United Kingdom in the past 12 months, 9 entered the top 10 list of films. In contrast, of the 61 British productions, only 7 achieved a place during the year.
Bollywood films to achieve success in Britain include Garam Masala, a romantic comedy, which took £292,033 (Dh2.01 million) in its opening weekend, the science fiction epic Krrish, which made £210,499 (Dh1.4 million) during the same period, and the drama Dosti: Friends Forever, which entered the UK box office chart at number five after grossing £146,069 (Dh317,876) in its opening weekend.
Each of the three films has now grossed around £1 million (Dh6.9 million). Almost one in six of all films released in Britain last year (16 per cent) was in Hindi while Bollywood produced 11 of the 20 most successful foreign-language films released in the United Kingdom in 2005.
The unprecedented level of commercial success has been fuelled by a new generation of young British Asians whose appetite for Indian films means that three of Britain's biggest cinema chains, Cineworld, Vue and UCI, now routinely screen Hindi language films.
Bobby Bedi, the Bollywood producer behind cinema successes including The Rising and Bandit Queen, said: "Young British Asians have more money than they have ever had and they are going out more than they used to.
"These films are now showing at multiplexes as opposed to sub-standard venues which used to be the case."
Bedi said the Bollywood films, all of which were subtitled, had developed a far broader appeal than just the Indian community.
Successful Hindi films can now expect to make more than £2 million (Dh13.8 million) at the British box office and, despite expensive publicity drives and all-star casts, a number of high-profile British films have been eclipsed by Indian movies.
For example, Fanaa, a romantic drama, took more than £300,00 (Dh207,000) in its opening weekend while The Libertine, starring Johnny Depp, took £278,000 (Dh1.91 million) over the same period.
Last year, Gurinder Chadha, who directed Bend It Like Beckham, topped the UK charts with Bride and Prejudice, her Bollywood take on the Jane Austen novel.
Michael Gubbins, the editor of Screen International, predicted further success for Bollywood films if producers and directors continued to adapt their work to local tastes.
"A lot of British-based directors of Indian origin are beginning to look at how the genre could develop in future," he said.
"Everyone thinks Indian food is really popular here, but what British people eat isn't really Indian food. So what we are waiting for is the chicken tikka masala film. All that cinematic colour, flavour in a form which will match the less exotic tastes of a Western audience."
Do you think the reason for the success of Indian cinema is its celebratory nature? Will there be more British-based directors of Indian origin making forays into Bollywood?