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The Hills are Alive with the Sounds of Bollywood

September 2008
The Hills are Alive with the Sounds of Bollywood

It was Raj Kapoor’s Sangam that introduced Indian filmgoers to Switzerland. That was back in 1964, and over the decades, the filmi crush on this tiny nation in the heart of Europe has only grown—by leaps and bounds, one might add, which is also a good way to describe the Bollywood dance sequences that account for a good bit of the shooting in Switzerland. Every year, an estimated 25 Indian movies have scenes set there. Apart from the picture-perfect locations, a big draw for Indian filmmakers is the business-friendly environment provided by the Swiss government. Rates are attractive, relatively speaking, and even small-budget films get support from well-qualified local crews.

Tourism from India is thriving, buoyed by the success of films like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, which feature major scenes set in Switzerland. The Swiss, too, are getting hooked. So it seems, judging by a six-week festival held in Zurich to commemorate 60 years of Indo-Swiss friendship. A number of Indian films were screened over the last two months, and Asha Bhosle was picked for a concert on August 15th. Other events focused on Hindustani classical music and a Ramayana-themed art exhibit. Last year’s trade between the two nations was 24 percent higher than the previous year.   

Now there is even a Swiss-German-Austrian movie! Call it EuroBollywood. The languages used are Swiss German, Hindi and English, but a dubbed version will be available in High German. Set in Interlaken, Tandoori Love revolves around a visiting Bollywood actor’s personal cook, who falls in love with a local waitress while the crew is shooting there. The only problem: she’s engaged to another man. Before the matter is resolved to everybody’s satisfaction, there’s much singing and dancing on (where else?) the Alpine slopes of beautiful Switzerland.

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