Sri Lankans are huge fans of Bollywood. With the long-drawn battle with the LTTE ended, locals are now encouraging Indian filmmakers to shoot in the country.
“Hindi films are very huge here. My father actually learnt the language by just watching Hindi films. Most people here prefer watching a Hindi film to an English film,” says Sri Lankan actress Jacqueline Fernandez.
Hindi films are broadcast on local television almost every day. Amanthi Gunawardena, a student, said: “Bollywood is very famous here. Many Hindi films release here in theatres and we even get them on local cable TV with Singhalese sub-titles.” Posters of actresses like Madhuri and Aishwarya adorn shops and locals swear by Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.
Shah Rukh’s My Name Is Khan is running in one theatre in the city. “We love Shah Rukh Khan. I am even fond of Amitabh Bachchan,” said Asanka, a shopkeeper. Shobna Perera, a PR person, said: “My favourite is Amitabh Bachchan. I wish I could meet him some day.” The Sri Lankan government is aggressively promoting the country as an ideal place to shoot.
Ram Gopal Varma’s Agyaat was filmed extensively in the Sigiriya jungles in 2008. In 2004, Deepa Mehta shot her critically acclaimed, Water, just outside of Colombo. Right now the Sri Lankan capital is gearing up to host the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards from June 3 to June 5.
“We need to develop greater association between Sri Lankan and Indian cinema,” brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan said. “We can form a strong force, representing this part of the world in world cinema,”.