Bollywood Cements Ties
A Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, Myanmar is home to bustling precious stone markets and one of the most impressive Buddhist sites. But as you move around the country bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand, you don't feel out of place as Bollywood is extremely popular here. For, right from the maitre d'hotel and chefs to top corporate honchos, Hindi films appear to be a mania in this country dominated by Buddhists.
"My parents migrated to Myanmar from India after Independence and so I learnt Hindi from them," local precious stone seller Ma Khin Kyi said. The mother of two, who never visited India, said Hindi soaps and films, which are quite popular among many Burmese, helped her master Hindi. Indian cable and satellite television channels Zee TV and Sony Max are popular Hindi channels in Myanmar, she added.
Bollywood stars of yesteryears like Shashi Kapoor and Mithun Chakraborty and heartthrob of youngsters—Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan—rule their hearts too. Thirty nine-year-old taxi driver Mohammad Shafiq, accompanying the visiting Indian journalists, started humming lyrics "Hum tere bin ab reh nahi sakte" of "Aashiqui 2". He said Hindi films and TV soaps were quite popular in the country. "Most of the Hindi films with Burmese dubbing are released here simultaneously," Shafiq, who speaks Hindi with proficiency, said.