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Nollywood Featuring Bollywood in a Cultural Tag Team

Viewing centers — small pay-per-view locations — sprang up across the country in the early 2000s to tap into Nigerians’ obsession with European soccer leagues. Run by small-scale entrepreneurs like 27-year old Mustapha, these centers are now catering to another cadre of viewers in northern Nigeria: those desperate for movies from similarly conservative India, more than 4,000 miles away. The new audience is part of a broader shift. What for decades has been an informal market in northern Nigeria is becoming a structured, industry-scale alliance that straddles businesses, filmmakers, actors and even governments, as the movie industries of the two countries expand faster than ever. In the past few years, Nollywood, as Nigeria’s film industry is known, and Bollywood, the world’s most prolific film industry, have unveiled their first co-production, J.U.D.E., while Nigerian actress Zainab Balogun and Nigerian-Indian actor Aivboraye Lawrence Osagie have appeared in Bollywood films. Viewing centers like Mustapha’s regularly show Bollywood films in major towns and cities across northern Nigeria. And unlike earlier, when the movies weren’t dubbed or subtitled, today they’re available in Hausa, the region’s dominant language.