The most popular film in the world could well be an Indian movie. Awaara, the 1951 black and white classic starring Raj Kapoor, has apparently been watched and enjoyed by a large number of people across the globe. This was the recent opinion of British film experts who feel Awaara deserves to be recognized as the “most popular film of all times.”
In a special issue of the 'South Asian Popular Cinema' journal several British film scholars have cited many texts and anecdotal evidence to show why Awaara has been seen and enjoyed by so many people. The journal also explores how Indian films in “various national contexts outside South Asia and includes several papers exploring the popularity of Indian films in places such as Greece, Bulgaria, Africa and Turkey. The most significant point here is that that the
journal casts “fresh light on the popularity of Indian films beyond the better-known overseas markets such as the US and Britain.”
Dina Iordanova, professor at the University of St Andrews, recalled her Bulgarian childhood and her memory of the film: ''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."