London: The 1951 Raj Kapoor starrer Awaara (vagabond) has been seen and enjoyed by so many across the globe that it may well be the "most successful film in the history of cinema at large".
Dina Iordanova, professor at the University of St Andrews, and other experts cite texts and anecdotal evidence in a special issue of the journal South Asian Popular Cinema and say it may be a candidate for the title of the "most popular film of all times".
The journal's latest issue is devoted to mapping the career of Indian films in various national contexts outside South Asia.
The issue includes papers exploring the popularity of Indian films in places such as Greece, Bulgaria, Africa and Turkey. The papers cast fresh light on the popularity of Indian films beyond the better-known overseas markets such as the United States and Britain.
The special issue is titled Indian Cinema Abroad: Historiography of Transnational Cinematic Exchanges and is co-edited by Iordanova and Dimitris Eleftheriotis of Glasgow University. Iordanova and others write extensively on Awaara in the issue.
Recalling her Bulgarian origins and childhood, Iordanova told IANS: "I knew Indian films long before I had met any living Indian. We knew next to nothing of India and the Indians; we did not know much of the personality of Raj Kapoor either. "However, the fascination with a film like Awaara (Brodyaga in Bulgarian) was everlasting; everybody knew the actor's ever-singing dancing persona. Nothing could match up to the experience of watching Awaara; this film was more fascinating than any other I can remember.
"Even though repeat viewing is not typical for the cinema going practices of Bulgarians, many admit that they have seen Awaara numerous times.