The first thing that strikes you, being an Indian, when you get to Cairo, is the average Egyptian's passion for Indian movies. Not to mention Egypt's national obsession for India's aging superstar - Amitabh Bachhan!
In our first month in Cairo, we would be very amused by cries of Hindi? India? Amitabh Bachhan? Vendors, passer-byes & shopkeepers, would want to know if we knew Amiabh Bachhan! I had guys in Khan recounting Hindi movies which I had probably seen when I was 10 or 11....
On querying, I was informed that Hindi movies were banned in Egypt for the last many years. Banned? I was a little puzzled till one of my Egyptian friends explained that courtesy the Indian movie mania that had the Egypians in a full Nelson at all times, the government had to ban movies to protect the local film industry!
It was only last year that a Hindi movie was released after many years in theatres, and no prizes for guessing whose movie it was! Amitabh Bachhan, of course!
I remember going to see the premier,and being completely astounded at the cat calls, whistles, clapping, hysteria, yelling and screaming with which his entry on the screen was greeted. That kind of explained a lot of things, and, made me a lot more tolerant the next time I was accosted by cries of Amitabh Bachhan!
Zeroing in on this craze for Hindi movies, Zee Tv, one of the big television houses in India, has launched a new free to air 24 hour television channel Zee Aflam. Available on Nilesat, the channel is the first of its kind in the region and features Hindi films that are subtitled and adapted specially for Arab family viewing.
The ads on the channel are in Arabic and have Arabic versions of popular Hindi movie songs and are absolutely delightful.. see an ad below...
The films have been edited down to a more appealing two hour format suitable for local viewing. From my husband's colleagues and my Egyptian friends I believe that in Cairo at least, the channel is a big hit..esp during Ramadan where families sit down after Iftaar to watch yet another Bollywood flick! Check out the ad below...
The channel telecasts movies under 4 categories:
Romantic movies (Al Film Al Romansy) come under the heading From the Heart to the Heart (Min Al Qalb Ela Al Qalb) and are screened every Wednesday at 22:00 hours (KSA) 23:30 hours UAE.
The second category features the films of Amitabh Bachchan, the biggest movie star of the millennium, and is headed host Amitabh as your Guest (Khali Amitabh Daifak). The films include a collection of his all time greats as well as his current worldwide hits. Screening times are every Thursday at 19:30 KSA 20:30 UAE.
Friday is family movie time (Film Al Juma’a Al Aeli) when Zee Aflam presents its Friday for Family Gathering (Al Juma’a Iljam’ah) program of comedy, drama and wholesome entertainment that enriches the family movie watching experience. Friday viewing times are 22:00 KSA 23:00 UAE.
Category four, The Best of Bollywood (Rawa’ea Bollywood), features world famous movies under the heading This is the Best (Wala Arwa’a) and includes all time famous hits starring the biggest names in Hindi cinema. The Best of Bollywood can be seen every Saturday at 19:30 KSA 20:30 UAE.
So for all those Indians who do not have Pehla, and, long for a slice of home, or those who would like to see what Bollywood churns out in such large numbers, you can search Nilesat for Zee Aflam, sit back, relax and enjoy the movies!!