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    Bollywood is utopian: German film buff

    [Interview by Hindol Sengupta]
    Wednesday, March 23, 2005
    Dorothy Wenner laughs as she tells the story of the time when two young Turkish girls almost beat her up - all for Shah Rukh Khan.

    As a curator with the Berlin International Film Festival, Wenner has been instrumental in screening old and contemporary Bollywood films in Germany and helping promote them across Europe.
    "Once I was telling two Turkish girls that there was really no more place in the auditorium which was showing a Shah Rukh Khan film but they were going crazy saying, 'Shah Rukh, Shah Rukh' and when I insisted that they couldn't enter, they got so angry that they were almost going to hit me!"
    Wenner, a self-proclaimed lover of Bollywood films, uses the anecdote to describe the growing and phenomenal popularity of Hindi cinema across Europe.
    "All around me, I see a constantly growing interest in Hindi cinema," Wenner, who has just published a book on India's first stunt queen Nadia and now is looking for a job in Bollywood, told IANS.
    This, she said, was because Bollywood provided a unique product. "Bollywood is utopian, utopian love and everything is perfect picture . It warms your heart.
    "I think increasingly Europeans are looking for love and affection, and Bollywood gives all that in ample amounts. When you step out of the theatre, you feel good because you have spent three hours with Shah Rukh Khan."
    That's why Bollywood is being lapped up across Europe - in everything from T-shirts and mugs to DVDs - and the craze is only set to grow, said Wenner.
    "Recently one of the biggest German television stations decided to broadcast a Shah Rukh Khan film at 8 p.m. on Saturday, which is prime time here.
    "It was a huge risk but it really paid off. Thousands and thousands of people saw it and the revenues were fantastic. It was unbelievable that a foreign film, dubbed in German, with SRK talking in German - which is really funny - could get such ratings."
    Bollywood, said Wenner, is fast being recognized across Europe as a counter to Hollywood. "People really love the spectacle of Bollywood. The scale, the breadth is really magnificent and that is attracting more and more viewers.
    "The films that are most popular are the ones which lift the mood, and Bollywood seems to effectively do that," said Wenner, who is also trying to learn Hindi to understand the films better.
    "I don't want to hear SRK speak German any more."


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