The connection between Bollywood and the Arab world is undeniable. Add in locations like Abu Dhabi, where such films like Race, starring Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif, as well as the 2015 Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol starrer Dilwale were filmed and the connection between the Gulf and its Indian cousin betrays a true love story.
So it's only right that the Louvre Abu Dhabi should devote a whole exhibition to the Indian movie industry, with a focus on the history, art and occurrences that created the healthiest cinema business in the world -- currently producing more than 1,500 films a year in about 20 languages and playing throughout the world.
From 19th century traditional shadow theatre and early silent movies to the 21st century gods of the screen, like King Khan of course, the exhibition presents the richness of the India’s image-making traditions alongside the influence of popular arts such as storytelling, dance, and theatre, and its close relationship with mythology and religion.
The exhibition, which is free to Louvre Abu Dhabi visitors holding an entrance ticket, will run from January 24th to June 4th, 2023 and is organized by the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and France Museums, Bollywood Superstars is co-curated by Julien Rousseau, Head of the Asian Collection at the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, with Hélène Kessous, Anthropologist, and specialist of South Asian cinema. The exhibition includes a wide range of loans, highlighting early storyteller’s props, shadow puppets, photography, Mughal armours, daggers, mythological, and religious lithographs.
The duo, Kessous and Rousseau will also give a curatorial talk on the opening day of the exhibition, on the theme of "Through the historical lens of Indian Cinema." During it, they will ask the audience some questions like "ever watched a Bollywood movie unfold on canvas? Or just with your ears?" and promise to take us "back to the time when the richness of a story could only be conveyed through a painter, singer, performer, or storyteller with handmade props."
Together they will discuss the living traditions of traveling storytellers, traditional dances, shadow theaters, and magic lanterns as they take you through a journey in time.
The artworks featured in the exhibition will come from the collections of Louvre Abu Dhabi, Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Musée de l’armée, Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet, al-Sabah Collection, Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation and Priya Paul Collection.
For more information, check out the Louvre Abu Dhabi website.