'Jodhaa Akbar' steals the show at Poland's Bollywood fest

Warsaw, Dec 28 (IANS) Though Shah Rukh Khan is the craze among Polish youth, it was Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance "Jodhaa Akbar" that charmed cinegoers during a month-long Hindi film festival held across 12 places in Poland, a country that has a surprisingly large number of Bollywood fans.

If the majestic beauty of "Jodhaa Akbar", which had Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead, impressed film buffs, Aparna Sen's "Mr. and Mrs. Iyer" also left a deep impression on audiences during the fest called 'Ticket to Bollywood'.

" 'Jodhaa Akbar' gives us a few glimpses of the medieval history of India. All these years we were glued to the beauty of the Taj Mahal alone. Now we can understand the intricacies of a secular experiment of the great Mughal king Akbar," said Gabellia Krzyzowska, a zealous Indophile.

"The beauty of Aishwarya Rai is breathtaking and the former Miss World has graduated into a fine star," said Krzyzowska's husband Janusz, who is a leading Indologist.

Other notable entries were Shah Rukh Khan's offbeat film "Paheli", Director Nagesh Kukunoor's "Dor" and Ajay Devgan's "You Me Aur Hum". All the movies had Polish subtitles and they were shown in 12 important places including Warsaw, Poznan, Krakow, Gdansk and Wroclaw. Even medium-sized hill station Nowy Sonch was included for the first time.

Bogna Zakszewska, a native of Nowy Sonch and a self-proclaimed Bollywood buff, was thrilled that she could see all these films in three days.

"Normally I come to Warsaw specially to see Bollywood films but this time the mountain has come to Mohammad. I am very much impressed with Aparna Sen's 'Mr. and Mrs. Iyer'. It indeed gives new dimensions to human sensitivity and the quality of this film is no less than any Hollywood film," Zakszewska told IANS.

The craze for Bollywood films in Poland started with Karan Johar's Shah Rukh-starrer "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham", which was screened way back in January 2005. Since then there has been almost a flood of Bollywood films being screened in Poland.

Usually, films of the King Khan are shown in Warsaw and a few other cities, but this is the first time Bolywood movies are being screened in 12 places in a month's time. This is the fourth edition of Ticket to Bollywood.

While most Hindi films are popular in Poland, the craze for Shah Rukh is phenomenal. Many of his hits like "Main Hoon Na", "Kal Ho Naa Ho" and "Om Shanti Om" have attracted large crowds. His biography penned by Anupama Chopra was recently translated into Polish and several houses have his life-size posters.

"The credit of bringing Bollywood films to Poland should be given to Anil Wadhwa, the former Indian ambassador to Poland, who saw the commercial viability of these films in the Polish market. Wadhwa had the instinct to smell business and he encouraged films to be imported from India and now they have created a landmark in the history Indo-Polish relations," said J.J. Singh, president of the Indo-Polish Chamber of Commerce.

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