You may not be aware, but Japan is one of the biggest foreign markets of Bollywood films.
In fact, Money Control reports that the blockbuster Padman raked in more than $641,000 (Rs 4.78 crore) in Japan since its release in December last year. The film, which starred Akshay Kumar, was well received by Japanese moviegoers and grossed $1.3 million (Rs 9.2 crore) back in 2014. It was also nominated for the 37th Japan Academy Awards for best Outstanding Foreign Language Film.
And this trend is not new. The 1998 release of Rajinikanth’s Muthu in Japanese dubbing was a smashing success. The iconic action movie ran for 23 weeks and grossed $1.6 million (Rs 11.5 crore). With all this history, you’d think there are many Bollywood films set or shot in Japan. While there are only a few, most of them are critically acclaimed films. Here they are:
Love in Tokyo (1966)
Known for its famous song “Sayonara, Sayonara”, Love in Tokyo is a classic Bollywood film starring Asha Parekh and Joy Mukherjee. Mumbai based photographer Manish Prabhune recently took photos of the shoot locations seen in the film. Despite over 50 years passing, many of the locations have notably remained the same, especially Tokyo’s nightlife. An Expatbets guide to Japan’s pachinko culture notes how the country is famous for its shopping malls, which feature a wide array of entertainment options. The entertainment options and neon-lit buildings in the popular Ginza shopping district are depicted in the film, and remain almost unchanged and thriving. Love in Tokyo is also set for a refresh, as Japanese and Indian filmmakers are making another Bollywood film of the same title that will be shot almost entirely in Japan. However, it won’t be a direct remake.
A homage to the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Aman is an anti-war film which features a cameo from pacifist Lord Bertrand Russell. The film was shot entirely in England and Japan.
A Match Made By God (2008)
The third film directed by Aditya Chopra, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (A Match Made by Gods) was a well-praised movie with an unusual lead character. The film follows Surinder Sahni (Shah Rukh Khan) and Taani (Anushka Sharma) after they get forced into a wedding due to a bizarre accident that befalls her fiancé. Oddly enough, Taani falls for Raj Kapoor, Surinder’s secret disguise. The film climaxes as both characters become more attracted to each other—culminating in Surinder joining a sumo-wrestling match to fund their trip to Japan. After everything untangles in a messy but romantic way, the film ends showing Surinder and Taani in Japan on their honeymoon.
A love story with a hint of politics starring Jackky Bhagnani and Neha Sharma. As Abhimanyu (Jaccky) lives in Japan, there are lots of scenes shot in Tokyo—most notable of which is at the Robot Restaurant.
This film is not just another Imtiaz Ali movie. The imperfect love story the director often depicts took a bright turn in Tokyo as the main characters mete for the last time in the city. Perhaps as a tribute to Love in Simla and Love in Tokyo, the movie’s climax was set at the Tokyo International Forum. Actress Deepika Padukone made three movies that year but it doesn’t take away the fact that Tamasha is one of her best works.
As Japan continues to embrace Bollywood with open arms, we expect more films to be shot partly or entirely in Japan in the future.