Bollywood going mainstream in Canadian Cineplex theatres, most success in Surrey

India-born Ellis Jacob (R) and Rob Cousins (L) of Cineplex Entertainment seated at a Toronto theatre. Jacob is credited for bringing Bollywood films to Cineplex theatres, and Submitted photo/Abi Farhoudi.

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Ellis Jacob can vividly recall his childhood trips to 1,000-seat movie houses in India to see the latest Bollywood film.

Growing up in Calcutta, he naturally developed a love for Hindi cinema.

“When I was younger it was a big event to go to a movie theatre,” said Jacob, who immigrated to Canada when he was 16-years-old. “It’s a social experience — people love to go to the movies and it’s part of the DNA of the Indian community.”

Now based in Toronto as CEO of Cineplex Entertainment, it’s only fitting Jacob is credited for Bollywood’s success story in the mainstream entertainment company.

“I always loved movies, back to the days where we had 800 to 1,000-seat movie houses in Calcutta,” said Jacob. “It was part of the incentive to do it in our company in Canada.

“We are such a multicultural country and given the fact that there are many South Asians that live in Canada, we felt that it was important that we provided movies to the audiences.”

Today, Bollywood films are screened in 15 of 151 Cineplex locations across the country, from Toronto to Surrey.

And according to Cineplex Entertainment’s director of film programming, Rob Cousins (referred to as ‘Bollywood Bobby’ in the office), Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Cinemas is one of the best theatres — alongside Brampton, Ontario’s SilverCity Cinemas — for South Asian cinema, so much so that the 2003 Bollywood film Hawayein outdid Hollywood blockbuster Pirates of the Carribean at the Surrey location.

“We did about $45,000 on opening weekend in Strawberry Hill, which is big,” said Cousins.

Cousins is expecting big numbers to come in once again at Strawberry Hill this weekend to coincide with the Indian holiday Diwali releases, like Krrish 3 on Friday, a “giant superhero film” starring Bollywood starlet Priyanka Chopra and heart throb Hrithik Roshan, followed by the Nov. 15 release of Deepika Padukone’s Ramleela.

Krrish

Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan in Krrish 3. Submitted photo/Facebook

While big Bollywood releases like these often do as well as their Hollywood counterparts, it was a “slow growth” since Cineplex introduced the genre about 15 years ago, said Cousins.

“When we first started playing the films, a lot of the films didn’t even come with subtitles,” he said.

But today, with digital projection, delivery and the ever-growing diaspora, at least 99 per cent of Bollywood releases are guaranteed to come with subtitles, which has also helped the genre reach beyond the traditional South Asian audience.

“It allows average Joes who might want to come out and see a song and dance film, or an action film, to be able to have a South Asian film experience,” said Cousins. “It’s also allowed a younger generation … beyond first and second generation immigrants in Canada to be able to experience the films a little bit more with their parents than what they were used to.”

Cousins added that “it’s been fantastic to watch it grow over the years” — even within the genre itself.”

The movies have diversified from dramas and song and dance films to “much more international films.”

“All the different types of films that you can imagine now are being released internationally through South Asian cinema,” said Cousins. “We are benefiting from the growth of Indian cinema not only here in Canada – in the U.S., in England, in Dubai – all parts of the world.”

“The modern South Asian filmmaker is now reaching out to all those different communities … they’re making dramas, political dramas.”

And Cousins further believes Bollywood is filling a niche that Hollywood has been lacking for years — something he relates back to the 2002 Bollywood hit, Devdas (starring “the Queen of South Asian Cinema, Aishwarya Rai”), which he credits as the movie that “triggered” South Asian cinema’s success in Canada.

“It is a beautiful film,” said Cousins. “It’s a grand historic romance … the type of film that Hollywood just doesn’t make anymore – The Great Gatsby aside – Hollywood doesn’t make grand scale, beautiful films or musicals in the way South Asian cinema has and I think Devdas really benefited from reaching out to a style of film that hasn’t been made in modern Hollywood.”

Bollywood’s “globalization” is even inspiring other countries — China, Philippines, etc. — to emulate its model as well.

“A lot of these languages came to us because they saw the success with South Asian film,” said Cousins. “It truly is an international cinema success story.”

Related story:

FUN FACTS:
■ All international cinema has its own pattern for big release dates, South Asian cinema’s busiest is November (Diwali) and slowest is April to July (cricket season)
■ In 2012, Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Cinemas screened 73 different Bollywood titles
■ Sundays are the busiest days for Punjabi/Bollywood movies – opposed to Hollywood, which is Friday/Saturday nights. According to Jacob this is because Bollywood movies are attended as a family outing, much like they are in India: “Sunday mornings they go to the temple, then as a family they then get together for lunch and the then in the afternoon it’s entertainment time so they go to the movies,” Jacob said.
■ Cineplex releases Bollywood movies “day and date” with India, meaning the Canadian release always coincides with the Indian release date, mainly for piracy reasons.
■ Jacob’s favourite Bollywood movie is Sangam (1964), which he saw as a kid in India and today “still listens to the soundtrack in the car.”

UPCOMING RELEASES
■ Nov. 3: Krrish 3, a super hero movie starring Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra
■ Nov. 15: Ramleela, a romantic-drama starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone
■ Nov. 29: Bullet Raja, an action film starring Saif Ali Khan
■ Dec. 20: Dhoom 3, an international spy thriller starring Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif and Abhishek Bachchan

lcahute@vancouverdesi.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,





Featured

New Westminster shooting Sikh Wedding

Sikh wedding shooting trial postponed for a year due to “matters that arose”

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI The trial over a prominent Surrey broadcaster’s connection with a shooting at a 2010 Sikh wedding came to an abrupt halt…
Continue Reading »

Toronto-Vancouver-Punjabi

SAFA brings “India Live” to Vancouver’s block party on Granville Street

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver’s not-for-profit South Asian Family Association (SAFA) is bringing a new kind of festival to the downtown core that will offer…
Continue Reading »

India-Canada

Indian women’s hockey team beats Canada 4-2 in Glasgow

IANS Glasgow – The Indian women’s hockey team beat Canada 4-2 in the opening match of the Commonwealth Games here Thursday. The match started in…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

New Westminster shooting Sikh Wedding

Sikh wedding shooting trial postponed for a year due to “matters that arose”

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI The trial over a prominent Surrey broadcaster’s connection with a shooting at a 2010 Sikh wedding came to an abrupt halt…
Continue Reading »

Toronto-Vancouver-Punjabi

SAFA brings “India Live” to Vancouver’s block party on Granville Street

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver’s not-for-profit South Asian Family Association (SAFA) is bringing a new kind of festival to the downtown core that will offer…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-weight lifter-Commonwealth Games-Glasgow

Surrey weightlifter Parm Phangura bound for Commonwealth Games

MICHAEL BOOTH SURREY NOW FLEETWOOD — 163+205=368. That stark equation scrawled in the top corner of a chalkboard means little to a casual observer, but…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

child abuse

Indian kidnappers agree to handover boy to parents on condition of swapping him for his sister

CEN AGENCY In a bizarre demand, parents of an Indian boy who has been kidnapped, were told that they could have youngster back if they…
Continue Reading »

Greece

Tipsy British tourist asked to leave church after mistaking it for a disco

CEN AGENCY A tipsy British tourist had to be asked to leave a church in Crete where he started dancing after local kids told him…
Continue Reading »

Kolkata-India-cruelty-abuse

Private tutor mercilessly beats child, CCTV footage sparks outrage (w/video)

IANS Kolkata – A shocking video of a private tutor mercilessly beating a three-and-a-half-year-old child, caught on CCTV footage, has sparked outrage across the country….
Continue Reading »

BC Sikhs

Frustrated Port of Metro Vancouver truckers want government to push companies to comply with action plan

THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER — Drivers servicing the country’s largest port urged government on Monday to take swift action against trucking companies, which they say…
Continue Reading »

Rashida Samji

B.C. Securities Commission finds Vancouver woman who ran a Ponzi scheme committed $100 million fraud

ALMAS MEHERALLY VANCOUVER DESI VANCOUVER – A B.C. Securities Commission panel has found that a Vancouver woman and two companies she controlled committed a $100-million fraud….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Desi beauty

Gallery: Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai at Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

VANCOUVER DESI Longines Ambassador of Elegance Aishwarya Rai Bachchan attended the Opening Ceremony of Glasgow 2014. Take a look at photos from the opening ceremony….
Continue Reading »

Slam! The Tour  poster Horizdesi

Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone gear up for Bollywood extravaganzas in Vancouver, Toronto and the U.S.

IANS New Delhi – Superstar Shah Rukh Khan is ready to shake a leg with his fans in the US after a gap of 10…
Continue Reading »

Actress Alia Bhatt attends the Highway premiere during 64th Berlinale International Film Festival at Zoo Palast on February 13, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

Alia Bhatt feels she’s too young to team up with Bollywood’s Khans

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood’s reigning Khans are in their late 40s and 21-year-old Alia Bhatt feels she needs to look more matured to look convincing…
Continue Reading »