Bollywood is to return to Egypt after 25 years with the release of Chennai Express, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone, which coincides with celebrations back home of 100 years of Indian cinema.
On Monday, Indian Ambassador Navdeep Suri said he was amazed at the love and affection Egyptians had for Indian cinema even when they did not play in theatres.
“It was an odd situation. India is the world’s biggest producer of feature films; Indian films are screened in over 90 countries; Egyptians clearly love Indian films. And yet, they couldn’t find their favourite Indian films on the big screen.
“That’s where we intervened to connect Egyptian distribution channels with Indian film producers. I am delighted that they have come together to meet the demand of Egyptian audiences,” Suri added.
Cairo International Film Festival President, Samir Farid, said Indian cinema has a long tradition and this was reflected in its global influence.
He added that it was the right of Egyptian audiences to have the opportunity to see Indian films in theatres.
Egyptian actress Aida Al Kashef, the lead actress in the critically acclaimed Indian movie Ship of Theseus, expressed her delight at the development, adding that working with an Indian director for her movie was a great experience.
She hoped that a strong return by Indian movies would encourage further collaboration between Indian and Egyptian film industries.
A number of young Egyptians, including the coordinator of the Discover India in Egypt group, Maiosh Khafagi, told the audience how people had been attracted to Indian culture and cinema.
Khafagi said Bollywood would prove to be a strong challenger to Hollywood in Egypt due to the love of Indian cinema among youth.
The evening’s programme also included a Bollywood dance performance by Egyptian artist Sameera and a short film tracing 100 years of Indian cinema and highlighting some of the cinematic links between India and Egypt.
Egyptian actress Lubna Abdul Aziz was also at the event.
United Motion Pictures, facilitated by Gaurang Films and the Indian embassy in Cairo, will release Chennai Express in Cairo and Alexandria. In the initial run, the movie will run in eight theatres in Cairo and two in Alexandria, including all major theatres and multiplexes. The film will carry Arabic subtitles.