Not since Rajinikanth has an Indian actor made the impact that Sridevi has in Japan -- thanks to a preview and festival screening of her comeback film "English Vinglish". What's more, the film has not even been released there as yet!
Apparently, the theme of an Asian woman struggling with the English language has struck a universal chord in Japan. And the Japanese women, themselves driven to despair by the linguistic discrepancies of the diaspora, have embraced the film in a big way.
Now, they want to meet Sridevi before the film gets a Japanese release in December. Speaking from Tokyo where he is currently visiting to launch the film, producer R. Balki said: "The response is terrific. Every Japanese women identifies with Sridevi. The Japanese love the film. Anyone and everyone who has seen it has connected immediately with the theme of linguistic barricading."
On the evening of Sep 1, "English Vinglish" was screened in Tokyo's Aichi Women's Film Festival. Later, it will get an all-Japan commercial release.
"We are planning a very wide Japanese release. The distributors in Japan think this is the first Indian after the films of Rajinikanth that the Japanese will connect with in such a huge way," Balki said in an excited tone.
He said the movie, directed by his wife Gauri Shinde, would get the biggest release ever in Japan for an Indian film.
"We are planning a major release here in Japan. It would be the biggest ever release in Japan for any Indian film," he added.
Such is the demand in Japan to meet Sridevi that producer Eros Entertainment plan to take the actress to Tokyo and other cities later this year.
"The Japanese identify with all the linguistic insecurities of Sridevi's character Shashi. If you cut away the spice and chillies in our food, we are exactly the same as the Japanese," he said.
Balki says the demand to meet Sridevi in Japan is deafening.
"Gauri and Sridevi have become very popular here. The word on the film in Japan is very strong. Sridevi must come to Japan," said the filmmaker.