Hi Prashant. Can you start by explaining what Bollywoodbio is?
Bollywoodbio is a film distribution company that screens Indian movies in Sweden. We started Bollywoodbio in 2014, and since then we have had multiple screenings of a lot of different genres. There have been some Indian movies shown in Sweden over the past ten, fifteen years, but those have been mainstream, commercial films. Two or three max in a year. The Bollywoodbio vision was to bring all sorts of Indian movies to Sweden and to showcase the good quality content to not only the South Asian community, but also the Swedish and local people out here. The next release we’re having is this movie called Mohenjo Daro which is based on the history of the Indus Valley civilisation.
The movie is releasing worldwide on Friday 12th August. We are having the premier at Biografen Grand in Stockholm, and then regular screenings will take place at SF Bio Park from the 13th. We are also releasing this movie in several other cities, including Gothenburg, Malmö, Helsingborg, Älmhult, and Karlskrona. It’s one of the biggest releases of any Indian movie in Sweden so far.
What is Mohenjo Daro about?
This movie has created a really big buzz because the director of this movie [Ashutosh Gowariker] was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 2002 Oscars. And the music director of this movie [A. R. Rahman] has won two Oscars and two Grammys so he’s well know. And they have been working on this film for about 3 years and it’s a project that is really interesting. It’s about this one settlement in the Indus Valley civilisation called Mohenjo-daro. It was developed around 3000 BC, abandoned around 1900 BC, and rediscovered in 1920. So basically the backdrop of this movie will be based on this civilisation and how the people used to live. The filmmakers have done some really good research. They hired and consulted the chief archaeologist of the site. This is a topic that no one has really touched as of now, so it will be really interesting for everyone to see. It’s difficult for a person to imagine that there was civilisation in 3000BC, but they had proper housing structures and everything.
It’s interesting what you said about Bollywoodbio being not just for the Asian community but for locals, too. The idea of these two communities being united through the film screenings feels particularly necessary in today’s political climate.
Yes. We all read about cultural integration and everything and I guess it’s very important for the local Swedes to understand what backdrop the Asian community is coming from. And that’s why our vision is to really promote and get the local Swedish side interested in the different ideas of the Bollywood movies. And you know, we have seen a really good response so far. A lot of Swedes come to watch the movies, having never seen a Bollywood movie before. They assumed Bollywood movies are all about dancing in the rain. That’s why we spend so much time considering what movies we should pick up. We want lots of different genres so that we can attract a diverse audience. More than 500 movies get released in Bollywood in a year, which is far more than in Hollywood.
How big is the Indian community in Stockholm?
Well, so far from the numbers I have got, it’s something like 30,000 people. And the interesting part with Bollywood is that it doesn’t just appeal to an Indian community. Our Bollywood customer base includes Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Indians, Afghans, Turks, Arabs, Persians, and Swedes. They all come and show interest. It’s become a very big market. And this multiculturalism is all very important with all this talk about immigration and refugees. There has to be some cultural promotion for the South Asian community and the Arabic community, for example. And there ought to be some cultural organisations showing their heritage to the locals.
How did you, a hedge fund manager, end up creating Bollywoodbio?
I’ve always had an interest in Bollywood movies. I did my studies in the Netherlands, and stayed there for five years. And I guess when I was living there I saw that the Netherlands was a very cultural, very international country. When I came to Sweden for work I kind of missed that. There were some things happening, but not much, and in a very disorganised way. I thought that maybe I could do something about it. Using my set of skills and everything. So it came out of a hobby, out of an interest, and out of a vision.
Words: Daisy Fernandez