How Bradford embraced Bollywood

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The impact of Indian cinema on Bradford is explored in a new exhibition opening in the city today.

Bollywood, Bradford and Beyond features film posters, photographs and film at the Bradford 1 Gallery.

A song and dance routine from the Bollywood blockbuster Mujhse Dosti Karoge?  (Will you be my Friend?)

A song and dance routine from the Bollywood blockbuster Mujhse Dosti Karoge? (Will you be my Friend?)

The posters saved from Bradford’s heyday as a centre for Indian and Pakistani film screenings reflect on the impact Indian cinema has had on Britain through the work of renowned Bradford-based photographer Tim Smith.

A set of publicity posters from the 1950s to the 1980s recall the days when Bradford cinemas such as the Marlboro, Roxy, Arcadian and Sangeet drew huge audiences from all over England and Scotland, and cemented the city’s status as the centre for British Asian social life in the north.

Acquired by Bradford Museums from a local collector, the posters are complemented by archive photographs and a film newly commissioned by Bradford Unesco City of Film.

Made by Tim Smith, the film features interviews with audience members and cinema operators Fazal Hussain and Umar Khan who organised both screenings and the visits of cinema stars to Bradford during the 1960s.

A video rental shop on White Abbey Road in Manningham in 1986.

A video rental shop on White Abbey Road in Manningham in 1986.

The story is brought up to date with Mr Smith’s still photographs which celebrate how Indian cinema, now known as ‘Bollywood’, has broken out into the British mainstream.

Mr Smith’s work features the complete unknowns of local dance troupes performing in Bradford alongside pictures of the A-list elite, including behind the scenes stills of 2002 Bollywood romantic blockbuster Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (Will You Be My Friend?) being filmed in the Lake District. It also includes images from the International Indian Film Awards which Yorkshire hosted in 2007.

The exhibition forms part of a year-long celebration of 100 Years of Indian Cinema by City of Film and partners.

Bollywood, Bradford and Beyond will be staged at the Bradford 1 Gallery in Centenary Square from today until Saturday August 24.