Bollywood Cements India-Myanmar Relations

India’s soft power; Bollywood movies act as a bridge in Indo-Myanmar ties

2 min read
Representative image (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)

A Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, Myanmar is home to bustling precious-stone markets and one of the world’s 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.
Ma Khin Kyi, precious stone seller in Myanmar

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 yesteryear like Shashi Kapoor and Mithun Chakraborty, and heartthrobs of youngsters – Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan – rule their hearts too.

39-year-old taxi driver, Mohammad Shafiq, accompanying the visiting Indian journalists, started humming the 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.
Mohammed Shafiq, taxi driver

Many youngsters, though not literate in Hindi, are so crazy about Hindi film love songs that they keep on humming the popular ones.

Octogenarian Patel, an Indian citizen settled in New Delhi, said the craze for the Hindi flicks dates back to the popular song “Mere piya gaye Rangoon” from the1949 movie Patanga.

Even popular satellite channels like Sky Net and MRTV-4 have devoted bigger slots for Hindi movies and serials.
Octogenarian Patel, former consultant with ONGC Videsh Ltd

Myanmar’s capital, Yangon, has six cinema halls that regularly screen popular Hindi movies.

Strict censorship doesn’t allow Burmese filmmakers to show social and politically driven stories, forcing movie buffs to watch pirated copies of Bollywood and Hollywood films.

State-run Central Hotel executive Cheery Tun said she liked Aamir Khan-starrer 3 Idiots and PK so much that she saw them several times.

Energy-rich and resource-rich Myanmar, which got its independence in 1947, is home to a 2.5 million-strong Indian diaspora settled mostly in Yangon and Mandalay.

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