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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Feature Presentation

With a mix of bright colors, song and dance, and sweeping story lines, Bollywood movies are designed to provide an escape from reality for moviegoers. This Indian movie industry based in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay, thus the nickname of Bollywood) rivals Hollywood in Southern California in size and popularity; in 2014 it totaled $2.1 billion in revenues. Now AMC Theatres in Evansville has brought these blockbuster films to the Tri-State area.

“We’re trying to bring in new Bollywood titles and the goal is to open them the same time they open internationally,” say Josh Boze, general manager of the AMC Evansville 16 Theatre. “We’ve had a lot of help from the Indian community locally and the studios who have produced the content.”

Bollywood movies are very progressive says Dr. Rajiv Sharma, a native of India and currently a gastroenterologist at Digestive Care Center in Evansville. “The whole goal basically is to have a film industry that will reflect Indian culture, the changes in Indian culture, and how India may look in a few years.”

Indian cinema arriving in AMC theaters in the Tri-State happened thanks to a series of fortunate events, says Sharma. A good friend of Sharma’s who works at one of the largest movie distribution and production companies in India asked where the local doctor watched Indian movies. Upon hearing Sharma waits for new films to be released on DVD, the friend contacted AMC and the rest is history.

“We’ve already seen a lot of benefit from them because there’s been a strong audience,” says Boze. “What we’ve also seen is other independent studios are taking notice too. So we’ve seen an increase in independent products.”

The happiness and joy expressed in Bollywood movies is why Sharma believes the films are so popular. “They want to make sure when you pay money, you escape the reality and look at what’s out there and enjoy it,” he says.

By having Indian and other international movies available to Tri-State moviegoers, Sharma says it brings a focus on cultural awareness to the community. As the world becomes more connected, he says having an appreciation and respect for Indian culture could have benefits for the future.

“Our children, no matter where they grow up, they are going to be growing into a world that’s very global,” says Sharma. “It’s helpful to their evolution as American citizens to be exposed to the global landscape.”

The popularity of Bollywood in Evansville expands beyond the movies as well. Sharma and his wife Monica coordinated the Bollywood Bash Nov. 8 at D’Alto Studios. The event featured Indian music, dance performances, food, shopping, and a fashion show. For a time, D’Alto Studios even offered a Bollywood Body Fitness dancing class.

“The whole idea is to bring people close to what Indian culture is and what we do,” says Sharma. “We want to show we’re a fun culture.”

Boze agrees and adds treating Bollywood movies just as Hollywood releases and opening them to the public offers a cultural experience to everyone. “I think that’s an important factor … it allows it to be shared with everybody.”

Sharma hopes AMC’s showings open the door for more things to come, including possibly welcoming Indian cinema productions to Indiana. “I just want people to be aware of India. Keep an eye on India, on the arts and culture.”

AMC Evansville 16 Theatre’s next Indian cinema movie will be “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo,” a musical about the unconditional love that all families must have for each other. The movie will premiere Nov. 12.

For more information about AMC Evansville 16 Theatre’s Indian cinema releases, visit amctheatres.com/indian.

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