(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) DUBAI HAS become an important sounding board for India's Hindi film industry.
In addition to the city serving as a preferred shooting destination, a place to do film business, and being the second home for several Indian actors, Dubai now figures high in the marketing of Bollywood films.
A relatively new trend, every Bollywood film release in India is now accompanied by a star gathering and Press briefing in Dubai. The reason is obvious: the global revenue share for Bollywood industry is getting bigger and the Middle East is now critical in the industry's international business mix.
Dubai also has the advantage of being the first destination where most Bollywood films, in fact, make their premiere. In India, new films release in theatres every Friday; in the UAE, the films release every Thursday. Whether Bollywood likes it or not, most of the Hindi films are watched first in the UAE, and in today's era of active social media and first-day-first-show reviews, it is important to keep the audiences happy in the Middle East too.
Also, with production budgets becoming higher with every passing year and audiences being increasingly discretionary about watching movies in theatres, Bollywood needs to sustain the marketing hype and what better way than to parade their top stars into malls.
Today, as Bollywood tries to push the frontiers by shifting from formula fare to more meaningful cinema, it is important that they also find new audiences. The Middle East offers one of the most accessible and yet unexplored bases for Hindi cinema to this day.
While the UK and US markets are equally important for Bollywood, especially given the large population of Indians in these countries, the audience profile in the Gulf region makes it truly unique. There are very few overseas territories for Bollywood where the local population shows as much enthusiasm for the films as in the Arabian Gulf. Being just three hours away from home also helps the stars to undertake promotional tours with ease.
For the city, the interest by Bollywood makes business sense too. The films not only contribute to the city's leisure and entertainment revenues, they also help promote tourism and support the hospitality sector. This is a win-win that will gain momentum in the coming years.