Bollywood's growing popularity in region

DUBAI — Several television channels from India and the Middle East are now cashing in on the popularity of Bollywood (India's film industry), and are either currently airing, or expected shortly to air Bollywood movies and related entertainment activities.

By Riyasbabu (Our staff reporter)

Published: Sun 8 Jun 2008, 1:08 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:24 PM

Commenting on the trend, Manoj Mathew, Vice-President, Marketing, Zee Television for Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, said it's time the television channels take full advantage of Bollywood's increasing popularity in the region, as well as globally.

Informed Mathew: "Zee has started a Bollywood movie channel from Dubai. The 24-hour channel, Zee Aflam, is in addition to Zee's 24-hour Zee Movies channel. The new channel is currently available free to air on Nilesat in 27 countries across the Arab world.”

Mathew disclosed they were currently studying the market trends. "Our initial study indicates that the Arabic speaking crowd is more attracted to Bollywood movies than any other films.

"We decided to capitalise on this trend by launching the new channel," said Manoj, while adding that the official launch of the channel will shortly be held in Dubai.

Manoj also confirmed the closing down of Zee Arabia channel, launched two and half years ago. “We stopped airing Zee Arabia since March 31 due to strategic reasons,” he informed, without elaborating further.

However, market sources say the channel was taken off air due to lack of quality programmes available in Arabic language. "Zee was outsourcing all its Arabic language programmes from other companies in the region. But the popularity of its programmes did not meet their expected response, forcing Zee to take the channel off air and launch Zee Aflam in its place," said a source at Zee network.

Another Dubai-based Arabic channel, Dubai One, has also started airing Bollywood movies every week.

An official of the channel confirmed they had started telecasting Bollywood movies only recently, following the growing popularity of these films among Emiratis and other Arabic speaking expatriates in the country. "Realising the demand for these films, we have decided to include Bollywood movies into our programme bouquet," said the official.

An official of MBC satellite channel also confirmed the galloping demand for Bollywood films and related programmes. "We offer Bollywood films to our viewers once every week. This is among our most favourite programmes," he added.

Another channel to join the Bollywood bandwagon is India's NDTV network, which will soon launch NDTV Imagine, a new entertainment channel dedicated to Bollywood movies and related programmes. The new channel will be aired from Dubai soon, it was learnt.

Like many, Mohammed Hamad, a UAE national and a fan of Bollywood movies, said, "I learnt Hindi only because of my love of Indian films.”

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