Searching for Bollywood in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco


I’m back! I took a trip in earlier in the month to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco.  While I was there, I kept my eyes peeled for any signs of the Indian film industry.  So allow me to provide you with data from my trip.  In Spain, I looked around for  crews filming  Zoya Akhtar‘s Zindagi Milegi Na Dubara, but no luck seeing its stars stars Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin or Farhan Akhtar, but maybe they saw me.  I was in the Andulician zone where they were said to be filming, but no luck!  The closest I got to Bollywood in Spain was a fabulous commercial I saw in Madrid starring Arjun Rampal being inexplicably jilted by Nicole Kidman. You will also notice little Rubina Ali from Slumdog Millionaire in the commercial. Take a look:

Well I do have to admit that those Schweppes’ citrus drinks are delicious, so maybe I understand a little. For a better look at the commercial, click HERE.

Next off to Portugal, where on this street in Lisbon:

I met Tibetans in a shop selling a great selection of Bollywood films.  I asked the shopkeeper who he liked most, but there were too many to mention, but he did say he found Saif Ali Khan arrogant.

Look closely at the solid collection, I  was impressed to see Dance Dance (1987), look behind the screen in the second photo here:

No this is a stretch, but I’ll include it anyway, also in Lisbon I found this colorful restaurant in Bairro Alto district.

What caught my eye was the couple dancing with the sticks, which reminded me of Dandiya Raas, hai na? See them dancing with the sticks, just below the guitar?

As you can see I had to ammend my search for Bollywood, to a search for Indian-ish stuff.  Moving on to southern Portugal, I reached the city of Olhão in the Algarve.  There was another shop selling Bollywood DVDs and Indian clothing,  and my lodging was across from this restaurant, which I was told to avoid, by several different reliable sources.

One of my sources saw the restaurant’s  drunk and stumbling cook, and she said “If he can barely stand and speak, how could he cook!?”  So no Sindu pizza (see menu board in photo) for me!

But the Algarve wasn’t that disappointing as far as Bollywood goes, since I saw this dashing lifeguard on the beach of  Culatra Island, and if my life were a Bollywood movie, one day he’ll realize my feelings for him and he’ll find me!  I’m playing hard to get for the time being, since I only snapped his photo(s) from afar, much like a stalker, and never spoke to him.  He doesn’t even know I’m alive, but one day, we will be together!  Just like in the movies!

Maybe you’d like a closer look at him, and I’m sorry that other guy was in the way! He really ruined everything, because it looks like the lifeguard was trying to look for me, but this guy in the blue wouldn’t stop talking! Idjit!

Next I was off to Morocco.  I was excited to read some of the following in Lonely Planet’s Morocco book

Bollywood in the Sahara ‘Namaste, mohabbat!’ (Greetings, my love!) If you’re South Asian, you may be met with a warbling chorus of Hindi hellos even in remote Moroccan oases.  If this strikes you as a scene straight from a movie, you’re exactly right: for 50 years, Morocco has been completely besotted with Bollywood.  When Morocco gained its independence in the 1950s, the anti-colonial themes and social realism of Indian cinema struck a deep chord.  Morocco’s small but influential resident Indian community began distributing Indian films that soon earned a loyal local following.  Top Moroccan acting talents were recruited to dub and subtitle Indian movies into Darija and French, and generations of  ‘Bollyphiles’ learned to sing along with the movie themes in Hindi.  Not surprisingly Bollywood stars were among the first honourees at the Marrakesh Film Festival, and at open-air screenings in the Djemaa el-Fna, there’s no mistaking the Indian-import crown favorites.  In 2005, more than a third of the movies shown on  Morocco’s 105 screens were Bollywood films, and 264 Hindi  films were screened in Morocco in the first six months of 2006. Among the biggest Moroccan marque draws are Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and Shah Rukh Khan – a 2008 Casablanca screening of Chalte Chalte (2003) starring Shah Rukh Khan with an in-person appearance by co-star Rani Murkherjee drew 50,000 devoted fans.  After half a century of ardent admiration, Bollywood is finally returning the love: in 2008, two Bollywood productions filmed scenes in Morocco.  While you’re visiting, maybe you can be an extra in the mountain-top dance sequence… (pg. 61, Feb. 2009 edition source )

No such luck for me, I didn’t get any extra work, I saw no films screened in the Djemaa el-Fna, instead it looked like this during my visit:

And from the other direction it looked like this, the Koutoubia Mosque is in the background, and that crescent moon was out, since the place is Muslim and it was Ramadan.

I can imagine what an excellent venue the Djemaa el-Fna would make for an open air screening of a Bollywood film, can’t you?  In Fes, Morocco, I saw some halwa,  and what looks like  a gori extra in the medina, as as pointed out by BollywoodFanGirl (ChristyRae on twitter).

I also saw another gori extra in a shop in Fez. What’s her story?  She’s a mess!

While in Chefchaouen, Morocco, I did see this colorful Indian gear, but that’s as close to Bollywood as I got:

On my last evening in Madrid, I was flipping through television stations in my hotel room and saw this handsome guy on  Intereconomia who I thought resembled Rahul Khanna.  Take a look…

Now look at the real Rahul Khanna:

See the resemblence?

In the duty free shop of terminal 1 in Madrid’s  Barajas Airport, I found Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, shhhh, don’t tell anyone.

I’m so lucky to be able to travel, yet I’m always very happy to get home and relax to travel the world through films.

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42 thoughts on “Searching for Bollywood in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco

      • Hola hola buenas noches, soy de mexico y amoooo las peliculas de la india, proximamamente viajo a madrid y queria saber si sabes de algun sitio centrico q venda las peliculas, al igual es el caso en londres gracias,

      • Iveet-ji! Hola and Namaste! Where are you from in Mexico!? I love Mexico, especially Puerto Vallarta, and Cozumel. I’d love to travel to Mexico City someday. I don’t know where they sell Bollywood films in Madrid, but let me look around the web and if I find something I’ll get back to you. Thanks for your comment and have a great trip. Adios!

  1. I want to go to Fes ever so much! U2 recorded part of their last album there. Thanks for showing the gori extra mannequin. We goris may be in the background but we are as ubiquitous as Johnny Lever!

    • Christy-ji,
      Thanks for reading this. Now would you prefer and open air screening of a one of your favorite Bollywood films with a celebrity star appearance (let’s say SRK for fun) in Fez’ Djemaa el-Fna, or a U2 concert there? Sophie’s choice, right?

      LOL @ We goris may be in the background but we are as ubiquitous as Johnny Lever!…I may have to add that into the post. :)

      Jai Gori extra power! Jai Gori extra power!

  2. Welcome back Sita-Ji, looks like quite an eclectic trip.
    Glad to hear about Bollywood’s popularity in Morocco.
    I am sure books can be written (and have been written) about the spread of Bollywood outside India.
    Nice little lifeguard story there, please be careful in remembering the exact Bollywood movie; because the wrong one may land you in a lost-and-found-brother-sister saga ;)

    • Samir-ji!
      Namaste! I thank and also curse you regarding the lifeguard warning, because he could very well be a long lost sibling, since I’m a orphan, or pretend to be an orphan for the sake of drama. So now my dream is RUINED! But I think you’re right, I did notice a tattoo on his arm in one of the photos, and if you zoom in I believe it says “Mera baap chor hai” (“My father is a thief”) just like Amitabh in Deewaar, hai na? So maybe this guy is Abishek’s twin separated at birth? I’m so confused now. :)

  3. I saw that same poster in Barajas! And I swear, every other restaurant was Indian…really really delicious, cheap food in Madrid. :)

    The only thing Indian-cinema related I found in Madrid was that every theater was showing Slumdog Millionaire. I finally had to stop taking pictures of the movie boards when I was walking around because I was filling my camera up with all the various SM posters.

    London though…now *that’s* another story. Bollywood galore! :)

    • Melissa-ji,
      How fun that you saw the same sign in Barajas! Yes, I loved the ease and cost of the tapas lifestyle, the Spanish dhabas! I can relate to the over-taking of photos, I had about 1400 of the trip that I’m trying to edit down to “only” a thousand. I’ll have to make a trip to London, because last time I was there years ago, I had no knowledge, understanding or appreciation for the Indian film industry. Can you even imagine how empty my zindigi was!? Added you to my blogroll, but had to throw the “The” in front of it so as to not confuse it with the other Bombay Talkies I have on the blog roll by Sparkle Hayter

      Thanks for your visit and comment. :)

      • Thanks for the add! I was completely fixated on having “Bombay Talkies” as a blog title and it took me two years to actually get around to it, and wouldn’t you know, three or four other people had gotten to it before me! No worries though, we can all share the love (and the title!) :)

        I’m really really glad I went to London *after* discovering Bollywood (and my India fixation in general). Southall, Brick Lane, the Sri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, sooooo much yummy food, etc. Plus I found an awesome little Bengali music store at Aldgate East that sold Bollywood films for a pound!

        I think one day we should all organize a “BollyBlogs Invade London” trip. We can storm the mothership (aka the Yash Raj offices in London!)!

  4. Gorgeous pics. Again, I must move up North and work with you to have the $$ and travel with you :D

    I love how you captured Bollywoodness even on your trips :D

    Also, that guy in the speedos LMAO~

    • Nicki-ji,
      Move up! You know being a spinster really helps with the cash flow. Can you orphan the kids? ;) I tried (in vain) to capture it. Oh and that gentleman in the speedo, I hope you understood the lifeguard I was referring to was NOT in that suit, right? Nothing against the euro-stylings of the speedo, just wanted to make that clear. :)

  5. Looks like a great trip. Maybe next time I cross the river to St. Paul I can go on an in search of anything Bollywood adventure over there. Unfortunetly St. Paul is about as far as I can afford to travel, but it is very exotic!

    • Jill Jacobson-ji!
      Kya baat hai! You were just at the Indian celebration on our fair state capitol’s grounds, were you not!? We are so fortunate to live in the twin cities, hai na? 2 cities with 2 different stylings and flavors. We lucked out in this life. Jai Minneapolis/St.Paul! When you break out on the journey across our Ganga, let me know and I’ll tag along if you want company and a photo journalist.

  6. As usual, I loved reading your notes about your trip! And I loved the lifeguard. I think he was looking for me and thought I would be with you but I wasnt. You should have told him to meet us at Bunkers. HA HA

    • Renegade Eye-ji!
      Long time friend, hope you’re doing well. Funny you should mention, I was just watching Awaargi (1990) last night and here’s a flamenco inspired number you may enjoy like I did.

      Thanks for the comment.

  7. Welcome back Sitaji. Looks like you had a great trip ! sigh I am envious. Interesting post. I am sure the lifeguard would have been very happy to have a chat with sitaji if she had said a quick “Namaste”!

  8. If you all organise a trip to London, count me in as I live in the UK. I haven’t been to London since I discovered Bollywood so it would be much more fun now. It’s good to have you back, Sita-ji. YOu were missed. Glad you had such a great trip. I still need to comment on your Christmas blog, the one with all the recommendations. Will do it soon, I promise. I’ve got through quite a few of them now.

    • Joss-ji,
      If I’m eve across the pond, I’ll certainly make contact with you. I can only imagine being in that mecca of Indian film appreciation! Kya fun! I’m looking forward to your impressions on some of those wacky films I liked, especially hearing about the ones you had to bin. Sorry again for some of the dud recommendations, I have low standards for entertainment at times. ;)

  9. Heeheehee. I love it, Sita-Ji. We’ll have to find a way to get you and lifeguard-ji together. I really enjoy the picture of the mosque with the moon hovering above it. Great photography and I’m glad you enjoyed your trip, yaar!

    • Kamala-Chan-ji,
      Glad you liked the pix, thanks for looking. I still have to link the entire album in, still editing it here and there when i have time and am motivated. Next time I’m in the Algarve, I’ll look up the lifeguard. :)

  10. beautiful photos, the vivid color makes me think of Bollywood–good to see you are fulfilling your holy duties by spreading and chronicling Bollywood throughout the world. All the best gods smile on you, Sita-Ji.

    • sparkle-ji,
      Yes those spashes of color were vivid, especially under the warm sun. I shall continue on with my holy duties throughout the world. Thanks for your visit and comment behenji. :)

  11. OH! This is fabulous. You crack me up, especially since I thought you were after the man in the blue speedo (as I would have been) and not the clothing-clad lifeguard! :)

    And those fruity drinks ARE tasty, but not enough to stop all romancing once you’ve already undone your dress.

    ABSURD! :)

    • Erin-ji,
      Yes! Nicole’s reaction to Arjun was inded absurd. Well put. Outlandish that she would shun him, but I do say that Schwepps drink is delicious. We need some back story on theri characters’ relationship, hai na? What went on before between Nicole and Arjun? Had they been in some kind of tiff? Were they arguing over how to make payments on that castle? Had they purchased that little girl in the commercial from her dad who allegedly tried to sell her after her stardom in Slumdog Millionaire, and now were regretting their involvement in human trafficking? So many questions? And perhaps I should have taked a second look at the guy in the blue, thank you for calling my attetion to him. ;)

  12. Hi Sitaji,
    it has been a long time since i last dropped by on ur page. hope you are doing well…
    i was just wondering about the dance performed by sticks…is it the same “garba” dance as in the movie “Pride n Prejudice” or is it sthg totally different??
    Nice post btw…
    Have a nice day,
    Choti

    • Namaste iselldreams-ji,
      Thanks for coming in to comment. :) I think that the garba is just like the dandiya raas, except there are now dandiya sticks used. Maybe someone can confirm this. Wait, wait, here’s something:

      The main difference between the Garba and Dandiya dance performances is that Garba is performed before Aarti (worshipping ritual) as devotional performances in honor of Goddess Durga while Dandiya is performed after it, as a part of merriment. While Garba is performed exclusively by women, men and women join in for Raas Dandiya. Also known as ‘The Dance Of Swords’ as performers use a pair of colorfully decorated sticks as symbols, the circular movements of Dandiya Raas are much more complex than that of Garba.

      (SOURCE)

      All the best!

    • bawa-ji!
      Oh my, I did miss Bilbao! I plan on returning to Spain one day and maybe on that visit I’ll get all the way up there. The furthest north I reached was Salamanca. Spain is a beautiful country! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)
      All the best!

  13. Awww… so close and yet so far! If you had made it to Meknes you would have seen a theatre very close to the Medina that played old Bolly movies. I was floored when I saw it! :) Not to mention it’s a gorgeouos city to visit even without an interest in Bollywood, my favourite in Morocco.

    By the way, my first time on your blog, but loving it! Keep up the good work!

  14. Hey, this maybe a little late but the pics you posted of Rahul Khanna, who by the way is *so* cute, the pic on the left is of his brother, Akshaye Khanna, and not his.

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