I came to Dubai in August 2007 to pursue my new commitment with Trade Bank of Iraq. I was excited and nervous as the officer at the immigration counter dressed in a dishdasha, astonished me by speaking in Hindi. “Where are you coming from?” he asked. I smiled and answered that I was coming from Delhi. “Have you ever seen Amitabh Bachchan?” he asked me in Hindi again. I couldn’t resist asking him how he knew my language and Indian film stars. “I love your cinema and have seen almost every film of Mr Bachchan,” he replied.
When I reached Baghdad, many people asked me about Hindi films. Hindi films are also quite widely seen and enjoyed in Iraq. Many of them picked up Hindi words watching the Hindi movies. I am told that during Saddam’s regime the state TV used to show a Hindi film every week.
I have now come to Beirut on some official meetings. Beirut is close to one of the oldest continuously inhabited place in the world – Byblos. On one afternoon, we had some time and so we came to Byblos.
While walking though the souk (market, in Arabic), I found a shop selling photo frames. To my utter surprise, all those photo frames had the photos of either Aishwarya Rai or Ayesha Takia!
These above examples show the popularity of Hindi films outside India. The Indian film industry has evolved not only among the Indian diaspora in the UK or US, but also among Arabs and Africans.