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    Is Bollywood popular in Africa?

    Bollywood films have a long history in Africa, as part of greater cultural and commodity interactions between the continent and South Asia. In regions like northern Nigeria and Senegal, they were hugely popular with African audiences.

    Bollywood films have a long history in Africa, as part of greater cultural and commodity interactions between the continent and South Asia. ‘Bollywood’ is a modern term for the earlier film industry in colonial and postcolonial India, with commercial Hindi-Urdu films produced in Bombay being the most popular export.

    In the 1950s, Lebanese smugglers introduced Bollywood films to West Africa, which lacked strong Indian diasporic networks. In regions like northern Nigeria and Senegal, they were hugely popular with African audiences. West African audiences, like those in East Africa, evaluated foreign films in terms of localized cultural and political values.

    Bollywood films

    In a global context of cultural mixing, Nigerians were making films in the 1990s that riffed on popular Indian blockbusters. In the 1950s, distributors in North Africa began marketing Indian films to Egypt, where they developed a cult following. Although public screenings of films dwindled in the 1990s, forcing Arab fans to rely on alternate circulations, which continued throughout the continent thanks to satellite television and other media technologies into the early twenty-first century, Bollywood stars and paraphernalia gained social prominence.

    Given the worldwide distribution of Bombay films since their inception, a tradition of exchange between South Asia and Africa, particularly across the Indian Ocean and imperial worlds, and Africans’ historically active participation in regional and global cultural economies, Bollywood’s long-standing popularity in Africa should come as no surprise.

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