Lazy, hot summer days of August. Olympics are on. I wish I could watch some badminton and table tennis matches at the Olympics but I don't think that I will get to, since both games are not a priority for Italy and so they are focusing on games that are more popular here and games where Italian teams are playing.
Last night, on the Italian national TV channel, they showed "Cheeni Kum" at prime time, dubbed into Italian. It was an absolute first for Bollywood here. One arty channel had shown films like "Kagaz ke phool" and "Pather Pachali", in late night slots. Another private TV channel had shown "Lagaan", starting it around midnight and finishing it around five in the morning. So I don't know how many people had actually watched those films.
Thus "Cheeni Kum" was a pleasant surprise. The film, quite urbane and witty most of the time, without any naach-gaana, was quite European (except for the scene of loud crying at Qutub Minaar by Amitabh Bacchan and his melodramatic running between the pillar and his mother, near the end of the film), so probably they thought that this one Bollywood film could be shown to normal Italian audience or does it mean that Italian TV is going to give more space to Bollywood in the future, remains to be seen. (BTW, Chinese films have been on prime time TV for many years now).
However there are lot of Bollywood fans here and there is a market for Indian DVDs that is not being tapped now. Actually it is partially being tapped by friendly neighbourhood pirated Asian DVD shops, but since even they do not have Indian films with Italian subtitles, so I am sure that there is scope for doing much more.
Every month I get two three enquires about how to buy Indian DVDs with Italian subtitles. Since I have been writing articles on Bollywood cinema and doing film reviews in Italian (on the Italian part of my website), people often come to me to ask "expert" advice. "Taare Zameen Par" got so many enquiries including persistent enquiries from an association of Dyslexic children, who want to use this film to create awareness about Dyslexia in Italy (if Aamir Khan is reading this please do something about it!). It would be easy to take the film and do Italian subtitles and distribute a few copies, but that would be illegal and I personally don't want to get into that. Last year, we did do Italian subtitles for small parts of different Indian films (Chameli, Umrao Jaan, Veer Zara, Bombay, etc.) for a women's festival but we didn't make any DVDs out of that experience.