Tere man ki Ganga / Aur mere man ki Jamuna ka / Bol Radha bol Sangam hoga ke nahin, sang Raj Kapoor in his cult classic Sangam, which was the first Hindi film to be shot overseas in the West.
So diverse and different have the sensibilities of Indians in India and the overseas NRI and pan-Asian audiences been that very few films reach the same level of popular endorsement nationally and internationally. But this year, this has actually happened—not once but six consecutive times!
Let us look back a bit: in the ‘90s, though Hum Aapke Hain Koun!…, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai were decisive blockbusters abroad as well as in India, a Satya or a Ghulam that were successful in India did not work at all overseas.
The foreign market tended to be genre-centric (feel-good romances were special favourites, as were— especially in U.K.—action films with Dharmendra and Sunny Deol) and also star-driven. Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and later Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar and (in select films) Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn ruled there.
The disparities were prominent: films like Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Baabul, My Name Is Khan and RA.One flopped in India but did amazing business abroad, while Taal, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Rang De Basanti and Veer-Zaara did modest business in home turf and earned far higher overseas. Asoka and Paheli were considered non-starters in India but fared decently there. Waqt-The Race Against Time and Devdas were massive blockbusters overseas while being mere hits here.
In 2012, Teri Meri Kahaani tanked, and Ferrari Ki Sawaari just broke even nationally, but did good business overseas. However, a b-o. whopper like Ek Tha Tiger in India did only tepid business abroad. And while Akshay Kumar’s Rowdy Rathore did better business than Housefull 2 nationally, it was the reverse overseas.
This is where 2015 is indeed remarkable. Its few hits—Badlapur, Gabbar Is Back, Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Dil Dhadakne Do and now ABCD 2 have bridged the gap and succeeded overseas as well, indicating that the thirst for entertainment is global for our cinema. With the exception of DLKH, which had a platform (limited) release in India and has mysteriously opened only in Dubai outside, there is a complete synchronization in thought among completely different movie audiences—whose lifestyles, tastes, socio-cultural exposure and economics cannot be really compared!
Even among Hollywood releases in India (dubbed or original), Fast And Furious 7, Avengers and Jurassic World have scored as much in India as over there. So with all these movies having content of diverse hues and different star-value, has East and West finally buried their differences in tastes and come together?
Only time will reveal whether this unusual phenomenon will continue!