At least six cinemas in Greater Columbus are premiering the new Hindi-language film “Pathaan,” which is set to break Indian box office records today.
Although the action film, which stars Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, was controversial in India, many in the Greater Columbus Indian community said they were delighted to see it.
“I love Shah Rukh Khan,” said Anjali Phougat, 40, a Delaware County-based fashion designer who moved to the United States from India 14 years ago. “Indian cinema has evolved and is appreciated around the world. It makes me so proud of Bollywood. ”
Most local cinemas show the action movie with English subtitles. He plays at Crosswoods, Dublin Village 18, Easton 30, Gahanna 16, Movies 12 at Carriage Place and Polaris 18.
Approximately 16,000 residents of Franklin County were born in India, and Indians are one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in Greater Columbus.
“Pathaan” is expected to break records set by previous hits like “Bahubali 2” and “War,” with more than $6 million in advance sales, according to Indian outlet First Post.
Some fans describe Khan, the 57-year-old star, as Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio rolled into one.
“For mothers, he is like a second son. For the sisters, he is like a brother. For a single woman, he’s like the guy she wants to be with,” said Manan Singh Katohora, a Native American computer scientist and founder of the Shah Rukh Khan fan club in Washington, DC, who has extended family in Columbus.
“I have a personal story with every (Khan) movie release over the past 20 years. I know exactly where I watched it, who I was with,” he added.
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But Hindu nationalists allied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi protested the film, canceling screenings in some Indian cinemas.
Khan, who is Muslim, plays a retired RAW agent (the Indian equivalent of the CIA) who fights terrorists.
Protesters say they objected to a scene where Khan’s co-star Deepika Padukone, 37, wears a saffron bikini – one of the colors of the Indian flag and also the color of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.
But Phougat, the fashion designer, said she wasn’t bothered by Padukone’s costume.
“People have to have a broad mindset,” she said. “Cinema is for entertainment.”
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Peter Gill covers immigration and new American communities for The Dispatch in partnership with Report for America. You can support work like his with a tax-deductible donation to Report for America here:bit.ly/3fNsGaZ.