Mexico eyes Indian film industry

By Liz Mathew

Mexico City, April 18 (IANS) Mexico seems to be the latest entrant to the fast-expanding fan club of Indian movies.

According to Ringzing Wangdi, India's ambassador to Mexico, the government here is keen on collaborating with the Indian film industry, not only through technical partnerships but also in content.

The trend appears to have been set by the Tamil film industry. It was during the shooting of Tamil hero Vikram's much-hyped "Kanthaswamy" in Mexico that the authorities woke up to the scope of the Indian market.

"Kanthaswamy" was the first Indian film shot in Mexico. Sensing the possibilities of marketing itself as a destination for the Indian film industry, the Mexican government has roped in the film's producer, Kalaipuli S. Thanu, to assist in the task.

Thanu has been appointed Mexico's honorary counsel general in Chennai. This apart, Thanu will co-produce a film in Spanish. "Kanthaswamy" director Susi Ganesan will wield the megaphone for the new venture that will feature Vikram in the lead.

All the other actors will be from Mexico.

Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, who is accompanying President Pratibha Patil on her 12-day tour of Latin America, said movies would be able to achieve what the governments have failed to do.

"It is reaching out to the world in a different way. I am happy that at least Indian films would change the image of our country as one of snake charmers and elephants and point to the fact that we have something more," said Kanimozhi, who is the daughter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

The Indian embassy here is organising a 10-day cultural festival in Mexico later this month for which Kuchipudi and Mohiniyattam dancers would be flown from India.

"There will also be street festivals," Wangdi said.

Movies apart, there is a growing interest among the people of Mexico about India, its culture, economic growth and art.

"Indian spiritual leaders are very popular here. Everybody here seems to know (Sathya Sai) Baba and Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi)," Wangdi said.

"There is a sharp increase in the number of Indian books being translated into Spanish. All the universities here want to have alliances with Indian institutes," he added.

There are at least 100 joint ventures between Indian and Mexican companies, with the latest being J.K. Tyres' acquisition of Mexican tyre company Tornel for Rs.2.70 billion.

According to the ambassador, Mexican President Felipe Calderon wants to do more business with India.

"At least 75-85 percent of Mexican economy is dependant on the US market. The president wants to diversify this and he has identified India as one of the countries he can work with," Wangdi pointed out.

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