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Superheroes mark return to the old India’s ‘Bollywood Oscars’ in Florida for US debut

TAMPA, April 26, (Agencies): For decades, Indian cinema’s formula for success has consisted of love stories, dancing and awe-inspiring landscapes. But a new leading role is emerging — the Bollywood superhero. The rise of science fiction comes as Indian audiences increasingly grow used to the special effects standards of Hollywood, whose studios have already relied on Indian workers for outsourced support on big-budget productions. But superheroes in one sense mark a return to the old in India, where the majority religion of Hinduism is rooted in epics. “Long before James Cameron created ‘Avatar,’ we had the first blue-skinned guy with a bow and arrow,” said Indian American producer Sharad Devarajan, referring to Hinduism’s Lord Rama. Among the nominees for best picture at the International Indian Film Awards, Bollywood’s premier event which is being held in Tampa, is “Krrish 3,” a science-fiction film about a scientist and his superhero son. “Krrish 3” won best special effects Friday when the academy presented awards for technical work. The film’s star Hrithik Roshan, addressing cheering fans, credited the special effects team with creating what had appeared “impossible.”


Reliance Mediaworks, part of Indian conglomerate Reliance, opened an office in the Los Angeles area in 2008 that now employs 80 to 85 people who work on visual effects and other post-production services including restoration.
“Indian film is transforming itself into getting more aligned with cinema that you see in the West. From that perspective, I only see business growing exponentially as we go forward,” Reliance Mediaworks’ chief executive officer, Venkatesh Roddam, told AFP by telephone.
Roddam said that the success of eye-dazzling Hollywood movies had raised the stakes for Indian filmmakers as many consumers can now instantly access films from across the world and compare standards.
“Are we beginning to see productions in India of the visual effect quality that you see in Hollywood? Absolutely not, I think it’s still got some distance to go.
“But is it vastly improving at a rapid pace? I think the answer is yes. And we will get there,” Roddam said.
Reliance Mediaworks estimated that the market for post-production services including visual effects was $300 million in India, mostly from US outsourcing, a sliver of the $6.5 billion market in the United States.
But room for growth is high in India, which has the world’s most prolific film industry with annual output of more than 1,100 movies.


While Bollywood movies are notorious for liberally taking inspiration from foreign films, India can draw on its own past for superheroes.
Devarajan’s company Graphic India last year released “18 Days” based on the Mahabharata, the ancient epic account of a battle whose ruminations on the nature of violence underpin Hindu philosophy.
Marketed online, “18 Days” aims at a younger and more international audience with its futuristic feel. The animated series was written by Grant Morrison, who has penned “Batman” and “Superman” comics, and is set to music by heavy metal band Pentagram.
Celebrities and dignitaries from India and the United States descended on Florida this week for the “Bollywood Oscars,” an awards event making its first-ever US stop with the aim of creating deeper ties between the two countries.
The International Indian Film Academy’s awards show set for Saturday has been compared to the Super Bowl in terms of its security needs, traffic management and planning. But its expected worldwide viewership of 800 million far surpasses the championship American football game’s 111.5 million viewers on average in 2014.


The film academy’s choice of Tampa, home to Florida’s third-largest South Asian community, to host its first US-based awards show in the event’s 15-year history came as a happy surprise to some fans.
“I jumped out of my seat,” said Rubia Qureshi, 22, a local resident who grew up watching Bollywood films, known for their distinctive and elaborate song-and-dance performances. “I’m the biggest fan.”
Qureshi and her mother, who is of Pakistani heritage, joined hundreds of others eager to snap photos of movie stars as they arrived at the Tampa airport and walked the industry’s signature green carpet. Fans were so excited at the arrival of actress Deepika Padukone on Wednesday that they knocked over a security barrier.
Other celebrities taking part in the event include American actors John Travolta and Kevin Spacey as well as India’s Anil Kapoor, best known to US audiences for his 2008 role in “Slumdog Millionaire,” and Shah Rukh Khan, an actor who has more than 7.4 million followers on Twitter.
The star sightings have created a buzz, but perhaps more exciting to local officials is the potential economic impact of hosting the awards as well as the prospect of building stronger business, cultural and tourism ties with India.

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