27 November, 2020

Sushi, Masala Soaked

In workaholic, stress-ridden Japan, Indian films take on the unlikely role of a spiritual balm

Sushi, Masala Soaked

Ask 27-year-old Satoshi Chiba, a road cutting machinery operator in Tokyo, what his name is and torrential comes his astonishing reply: "Mera Nam Joker. You know Muthu, the Dancing Maharaja? I like Juhi, Kajol, Sridevi. Shahrukh Khan is sexy!" This quaint introduction, this eager pastiche of cultural icons is no freak Indophile's display of pop cultural knowledge, but a sign of Japan's strange new mantra for salvation: Indian films.

First catching unprecedented attention at the Fantastic Tokyo Film Festival in November '97, then promoted intensively by a consortium called Japan Cinema Associates (jca), Muthu-The Dancing Maharaja, a typical south Indian masala film produced by Kavithalayaa, washed over Japan like a tidal wave last year. Around 12 lakh spellbound Japanese watched the Tamil film hero, Rajnikant, play Muthu. They thrilled to his lover's (actress Meena) iridescent hued dances; and wept at his noble, unflinching magnanimity. Thus, in a line, goes the story: Muthu, a servant in a zamindari house, is buffeted by the indignities of class differences; he...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

More from Shoma Chaudhury

Latest Magazine

December 07, 2020

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section