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‘Ladkiyon ki Sallu Bhai’: Taylor Swift Film Takes India By Storm

Taylor Swift's film 'Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour' hit the silver screens on 4 November.

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4 min read
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In a country that boasts of superstars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan or Rajnikanth, how could an American singer born in Pennsylvania, United States, possibly stake claim?  But stake Taylor Swift did – she turned theatres In India into full-blown concerts for 2 hours and 45 minutes with her film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. A feat that was earlier achieved this year by Shah Rukh during the release of his blockbusters Pathaan and Jawan. 

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She took it a step further. She managed to do it in a market that is dominated by male stars. Balancing stratospheric superstardom while being relatable is difficult. But the balancing act is even more difficult to manage in India. Yet, desi fans have spread their wings far and wide, and much of their frenzy is dedicated to the global pop star. 

Taylor Swift's film 'Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour' hit the silver screens on 4 November.

What's it like to witness Taylor's dazzling showmanship in India?

I was lucky enough to watch it in theatres, and much like the other cine-goers, I was also a fan. Although I didn't share the enthusiasm that her more ardent fans possess, I was able to sing along to most of her songs. But my fellow Swifties would give me a run for my money, and I am not at all complaining. 

The energy in the theatre was infectious. The crowd erupted in cheers as Swift emerged from underneath pastel-coloured tapestries in the first scene. They were simmering with anticipation and the opening sequence set the audience afire. 

Taylor Swift's film 'Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour' hit the silver screens on 4 November.
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Girls and boys refused to sit still, incessantly tapping their feet to the beats. I, for one, was very comfortable watching Swift sing a rendition of 'Ready For It' in the comfort of my seat while all the rest of the folks leapt towards the passageway in front of the screen. One man even knelt on the floor and started imitating Swift’s every step. At one point, he swung his hips and pointed his hand towards the sky with such zeal that he could even put Taylor Swift to shame.

People at PVR screamed for them to step aside, but Indian Swifties were tenacious – they were not deterred and continued to screech out the lyrics to every song as if their lives depended on it, paying little to no heed to the attendants. At this juncture, we were all heavily invested in the emotional rollercoaster Swift was taking us on.

From pop tracks like 'Bad Blood' to heartbreak anthems like 'All To Well (10-minute version)' the singer-songwriter left no stone unturned to make the audience both a soppy mess and dancing queens.

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A girl even looked at the screen and did the ‘Nazar na lage’ gesticulation. It was as if Taylor was one of us, and she must be protected from all evil eyes. No matter that Swift would have no idea what the gesticulation meant. No matter that she was not even in India. The desi-fication of Swift was not lost on me.

Taylor Swift's film 'Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour' hit the silver screens on 4 November.
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On Twitter, Swift is hilariously being referred to as ‘Taylorben’, taking a leaf from the book of ‘Sallu bhai’ fans. With women finally being at the forefront of celebrations that are only reserved for Indian male superstars, it was a treat to watch the fandom unleash all their vigour in Indian multiplexes. And although it is a product of westernisation and some misplaced result of our colonial hangover it was satisfying to watch.

Taylor Swift's film 'Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour' hit the silver screens on 4 November.
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The Taylor Swift Effect In India

A generation in India has grown up with her music. Some have even been shamed for liking it. Hating her, at one point, was considered 'cool'. But these days, she is a powerhouse who took unconventional routes to not only reinvent herself but also the entertainment industry.

She has re-recorded albums to have rights over them and recently bypassed collaborating with studios to release her recent film directly with theatres. Her impact is monumental and there is no two ways about it.

And if she is affecting the Hollywood film industry so emphatically then her imprint on the Indian audience would be no joke either. After all, people across all genders, put on their best fit to watch Swift dazzle on stage while crooning hits like 'Blank Space' and 'August'.

Taylor Swift's film 'Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour' hit the silver screens on 4 November.

Desi fans would agree that watching her on-screen is almost cathartic. And seeing as it's highly unlikely that a singer of Swift's stature would perform in India anytime soon they took whatever they could get. They soaked her in like she was the sun and although it would be absurd to some, it's undoubtedly relatable in today's burgeoning fan culture around singers.

After all, the film captures the pop star's showmanship with military precision. Her girl next door ease compliments her relatability while some of her more edgy tunes, like ‘Bad Blood’, transform her into a seeming vixen. Her oomph and glamour sway and swoon masses, and the film expertly brings it to our nearest theatre. 

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