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Bollywood Actors Starting Huge Bodybuilding Craze in India

Dear Friend and Fellow Athlete,

Bollywood was once seen as almost an afterthought within movie production circles.  But now, Bollywood movies are better than ever and the bodybuilder movie stars in these films are a big reason why.  Looking to emulate these buff Bollywood stars, people have started a huge bodybuilding craze that has been sweeping India.

If you read newspapers or watch the news then chances are that you’ve heard of the largest sector in the Indian film industry known as Bollywood.  But the Mumbai-based Bollywood is the Asian counterpart to America’s Hollywood in terms of a clever, rhyming name only.  That being said, until recently, many of the movies that have come out of Bollywood in the past have just been downright awful.

If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing movies that could possibly be good turned into musicals and sprinkled with lots of ridiculous script writing then the old Bollywood would’ve been a great place to find them.  Plus there has been enough copyright infringements and script plagiarizing via Bollywood production companies to keep lawyers busy for years.  Thankfully, Bollywood movies have been getting better and better in recent years.

In fact, since the mid-2000’s, the Bollywood film industry has been building a positive reputation within international movie circles culminating in Slumdog Millionaire winning the 2008 Academy Award for best picture.  The films coming out of Mumbai have gotten much better and they are also making lots of money for Indian movie companies.  And, due to the increasing quality of Bollywood films, many of the actors in them have become huge stars!  Two of these stars are bodybuilders Salman Khan and Saif Ali Kahn who have used their chiseled bodies and acting skills to gain widespread fame across Asia. 

Salman Khan Bollywood Star Bodybuilder

Salman Khan was practically bred to be an actor as he is the son of a famous Indian screenwriter by the name of Salim Khan.  He is a very accomplished veteran actor since he’s been appearing in movies since 1988 and has been in lots of box office hits during his career.  Salman also participates in Asian bodybuilding shows and is well known for working out every day.  His bodybuilding background has given Salman the confidence to take his shirt off in pretty much every movie he’s in.

Saif Ali Khan (no relation to Salman) also has acting in his blood since his mom, Sharmila Tagore, is an Indian actress.  Saif Ali has earned some of the highest awards given out in the Indian film industry including the National Film Award for Best Actor.  And while he doesn’t have the extensive bodybuilding background that Salman Khan has, Saif Ali rededicated himself to working out after experiencing a heart attack.  This has helped him to earn one of the best physiques in Bollywood.

Seeing as how these two ripped men have millions of adoring fans, made tons of money over their careers, and gained international fame, lots of young Asian men have been inspired to hit the gym in recent years. 

Evidence of this phenomenon can be seen in the fact that both European and Asian supplement companies are seeing huge increases in sales towards Asians.  Bulk Supplements Direct, which is one of Britain’s biggest supplement suppliers, has estimated that its supplement sales to young Asian men increased 21% over the course of 2008.  And Bulk Supplements Direct has already seen an even bigger spike in sales during the first half of 2009 according to their owner Kunel Patel.

Patel firmly believes his company’s good fortune is a result of Bollywood as he said, “I think it's all to do with influences from the Bollywood film industry.  Young Asian men see megastars like Salman Khan and Saif Ali Khan doing so well with their image that they want to get the same results.”

Saif Ali Khan Salman Khan Bollywood Star Bodybuilder

Supplements aren’t the only things that are hot commodities right now in India and surrounding Asian countries.  Gym owners and personal trainers have seen an increase in the demand for gym memberships and personal training services as well.  Gym owner and Indian personal trainer Sheraz Yousaf has no doubt that the increase in demand is due to ripped stars like Salman Khan and Saif Ali Khan. 

Yousaf commented on the matter by saying, “All the actors... they've got to be in good shape; they've got to look good and be lean.  They won't like to admit it... guys don't like to be compared to Bollywood actors.  But, like it or not, that's what they're seeing and that's what they're trying to emulate.

The young men hitting the gym have admitted themselves that the muscle-bound bodybuilders who’ve become major stars are a huge inspiration for them.  Rizwan Pinjara is certainly one of the those who has been motivated by seeing muscle-bound Bollywood actors and he said, “I can see why people are looking up to Bollywood stars... people like Saif Ali Khan and Salman Khan have come out with their six-packs and the girls are impressed.  I also look up to Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He brought bodybuilding into fashion.

Getting involved with bodybuilding has definitely changed Pinjara for the better too as he stated, “Before, I only used to wear hoodies and baggy tops.  Now I have a full eight-pack and chest and it feels good to wear a tight top.  It feels really good not to be the fat kid anymore.  Now I look back at pictures of how I was younger; that's what keeps me going... gives me the drive to come and train.”

Deepak Harbias is one young man who embodies the whole workout and supplement-taking trend sweeping Asia and summed up his fitness habits by saying, “I come to the gym about five times a week.  I don't have any fast food any more.  I'm taking protein shakes and protein bars.  After I left college I was at home for 10 months and put on weight.  I knew I had to do something.”

Fitness expert Sarina Jain Bhangra dance

Men aren’t the only ones being inspired by Bollywood though since plenty of women have gotten the motivation to get back in the gym after seeing fit female actors.  Fitness expert Sarina Jain has noticed this trend and used it, in combination with the hit film about two Mumbai boys called Slumdog Millionaire, to perfect her own workout video.

The video is called Back to Bollywood and uses a lot of the concepts seen in the last part of Slumdog Millionaire where everyone is doing the Masala Bhangra dance.  According to Jain, this high energy Indian folk dance is a great workout and she’s seen increased interest in it from females who’ve seen Slumdog Millionaire.  Her video has made Jain an even bigger fitness star and has inspired women from Asia all the way to the US to use the Masala Bhangra to get in shape. 

I personally find it very amazing how these Bollywood films have inspired so many young Asian people to start going to the gym more to get a better body.  And, in cases like Rizwan Pinjara’s, going to the gym more has had a very positive effect on both their physical appearance and mental outlook on things.  Unfortunately, not every region has a Hollywood or Bollywood to motivate them to a hotter body.  But for the areas that do have solid film industries, I hope that buff movie stars will inspire as many people as possible to workout.

Here's a few links to discuss Bollywood movies and bodybuilding on the EliteFitness.com forums:

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Yours in sport,

George Spellwin

George Spellwin