Especially in a country affected by violence and drug trafficking, the family values displayed deeply in Bollywood films are giving some people in Colombia a hope in a different way of life, say Colombian Bollywood enthusiasts.
"Bollywood is not well known in Colombia but it over the last four or five years it has started to gain more and more fans. Social networking sites are playing a very important role in promoting Indian films and the local channels also telecast some Bollywood movies," says Claudia Vega, co-founder of 'Amigos de India' (Friends of India) association.
The Bogota-based association, which has received official support of the Embassy of India, carries out cultural activities and aims to promote friendship between India and Colombia.
'Amigos de India', which is the biggest Spanish speaking community promoting Indian culture, organises Bollywood dance shows to spread the typical genre in Colombia, says Claudia, who fell in love with Bollywood after watching Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit starrer 'Devdas' on a local TV channel. Asked about the cultural influence of Indian films, Claudia says she thinks Bollywood -- filled with themes of joy and love -- not only offers an escape mechanism to a weary audience but can also contribute in reigniting love for family values, an ideal recalled in a country visited by bouts of violence.
Katherine Zarate Cristancho, a dedicated fan of the Indian movies and a passionate Bollywood dancer, agrees with Claudia.
"Bollywood is slowly growing in Colombia, having good acceptance. For most of the Colombians, Bollywood is a magical world where there is only joy and love," Katherine said over an e-mail from the second-largest Colombian city of Medellin.
"The themes, specially romantic dramas and musicals, have a mass following among the younger generation," says 23-year- old Katherine, who says she is a huge fan of Shahid Kapoor, Kajol and Rani Mukherjee.
At first glance, this Latin American nation would seem the unlikeliest of takers for the Indian movie culture, but Claudia feels the family-oriented Bollywood movies strike a chord with both the younger and older generations in her
"Colombia can be a good taker for the Indian movie culture because of family values shown in Bollywood movies. Family values can help some Colombian people affected by violence and drug trafficking to have hope again, hope in a different way of life," Claudia said from the capital city of Bogota. Colombians also like Bollywood movies for their music, dance and exotism, says Claudia, who created a Facebook fan page - Bollywood-Colombia - to show Indian movie culture to Colombian people and Spanish speakers. The page has over 3,200 followers.
The popularity of Indian cinema in Colombia has shot up noticeably in the past few years reflected in the fact that over 15 Bollywood films were screened at the 2007 Bogota International Film Festival. In 2009, India was the guest of honour at the same film festival.
More and more Colombians are also getting attracted toward Bollywood dance says Katherine who points out that the genre is a hit with Colombian girls because of the "typical choreography, with full of gestures and sentiments".
Agrees Claudia, "Because of the rhythm and the romance shown in the Bollywood videos, the girls also like Bollywood actors very much. It seems the Indian beauty is very appreciated by the Colombian public. Bollywood dance is just starting to become popular here."
Narayani, a Colombian Bollywood dancer-cum-teacher who goes by her artistic name, says in her dance shows audience want to know more and more about the Indian culture, movies, costumes and cuisine.
Narayani, an avid fan of Aishwarya and Madhuri, says she now gets a steady flow of students willing to dabble in the fusion art of Bollywood dance.
Meanwhile, Katherine, who learns the art of Bollywood dance from Narayani, says numbers like 'Marjani' or 'Chikni Chameli' turn her sorrows into joy and fill the soul with emotions.
"I love India without knowing it, its films are beautiful, its songs, festivals like the Diwali. I wish I was there. India is a heaven, hope one day I will visit the country and live for a while to learn all about its culture, dance and cuisine," says the 23-year old student of law.