Bollywood must be reeling from the disrespect paid to it by its smaller cousin in California. It’s not bad enough that the Hindi version of Spiderman 3 broke box office records in India, outgrossing domestic productions with a clear ripoff of Indian cinema complete with Tobey Maguire’s Bollystyle costumes, dancing, and hair acting. But to make matters worse, Disney has been muscling in on Bolly’s home turf, the absurd movie musical.
In an audacious move akin to bringing coals to Newcastle, Disney released High School Musical (1) with songs and dialogue dubbed into Hindi in 2006. The new release involved a few subtle changes that revealed how well Disney understands Indian film audiences:
Consider “Bop to the Top,” the title of a song from the first movie. In India, one of Disney’s most important foreign markets, the phrase was changed to “Pa Pa Pa Paye Yeh Dil,” which the company said roughly translates to “the heart is full of happiness” in Hindi. A Hindi translator contacted by The New York Times said: “It’s sort of like a Duran Duran song. The words sound sexy but mean nothing…” [Link]
The dubbed version of HSM did well enough that now Disney is releasing the sequel, High School Musical 2, with an entirely Indian cast. It’s just one of many versions of HSM2 with local casts – you can see them displayed in this medley of different adaptations of HSM2 from around the world.
Below is the climatic song in the all-desi HSM2, Aaja Nachle, the replacement for “All for One” in the American version of HSM2:
p>The song is a hit worldwide:
According to Nielsen Media Research, more than 1.5 million children age 6 to 11 watched “Aaja Nachle.” Even in a foreign language, children “can feel what they’re saying,” Ms. Sweeney said. [Link]
The Indian film industry is taking Disney’s blatant neo-imperialism very seriously, and is launching a counter-strike. They have announced that SRK will star in a completely naturalistic biopic of Dalip Singh Saund‘s life to be released for American markets, saying that anything Miramax can do, they can do better.