— India Currents Magazine | August 2002
The expatriate in films is nothing new. Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart as the suave, mysterious Rick in Morocco remains the top favorite 60 years after its release in America. Although expat characters’ lives are traditionally painted as being extraordinary, the simple fact that they live “elsewhere” adds a sense of adventure, a dash of romance, and a bit of wishful longing. However, expats have never made the kind of impact on films that non-resident Indians (NRIs) have with Hindi cinema, both at the box office and on the big screen.
According to India’s 2001 census, the country’s population exceeded the 1 billion persons milestone, and there are approximately 11 million Indians living, working, and studying elsewhere around the world. NRIs have become a serious market for the Hindi film industry, particularly in the U.K., where approximately 3 percent of the population is Indian/Pakistani, and in the U.S., where 1.7 million out of 281.5 million people are Indian.
The rupee box office is now augmented quite handsomely by the dollar-and-pound box office, much to the delight of directors and producers.