Will Hollywood beat Bollywood in India?
There’s been a lot of hype about Hollywood films being a threat to Indian films, although trade pundits dismiss this. They feel that Hollywood will never be a serious threat…but I am not so sure. Maybe not in the short term…but what about 20 or 30 years from now?
Hollywood is still basking in the glory of Spiderman 3’s success in India. Profits for Hollywood producers are growing by as much as 35 percent every year. Apparently, Hollywood biggies have found the formula to beat Bollywood on it’s own turf.
So, what’s this formula?? Simple – release more prints…and release them in the regional languages. Not just Hindi and English, but also Tamil, Telugu and more! In fact more prints of Spiderman 3 were released than of an average Hindi movie…(an average Hindi movie is released with about 500 prints).
The increase in the number of prints tells us that Hollywood has figured it out:
588 prints of Spiderman 3 were released this year: 261 Hindi, 162 English, 78 Tamil, 81 Telugu and 6 Bhojpuri) as against just 303 prints (100 in Indian languages) three years ago of Spiderman 2.
480 prints of Pirates of the Caribbean 3 were released this year (just 80 of them in English!) as against 198 prints (all in English!) a year ago.
200 prints of the movie Transformers to be released, out of which 70 per cent will be dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.
And the new Harry Potter film will be released with over 70 per cent of the 300 prints in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.
All this is pretty new for cinemagoers. Five years ago, English films were well…in English. It was a rare movie that was dubbed into Hindi. Forget about any other language…and now, not only are Hollywood films being dubbed into several Indian languages, they are being released at the same time as the English versions! That’s very very important. Cinemagoers in India don’t like seeing a movie weeks after the release…
But as I said there are those who feel that Hollywood films will never make a serious dent as Indian moviegoers are hooked on to the gravy that Bollywood films deliver. Sure, when they want to see a superior action flick, they turn to Hollywood…but they tend to come away with the feeling that something is missing. An emotional core perhaps??
When they want their dose of reality there are films like Metro and Khosla ka Ghosla (both of which did fairly alright well at the box office, in fact Khosla was a big hit). These films deliver reality plus plenty of heart-wrenching emotion. Hollywood films will never be able to replicate that.
But suppose our audience itself starts to change? Today, an increasing number of youngsters are growing up with different values from their parents, and there are far more westernised youngsters today than they were when we were growing up.
But doesn’t the fact that the NRI (non-resident Indians) audience laps up Indian movies prove that westernised Indians love Bollywood too? But who exactly are these NRI’s who see Bollywood movies? Aren’t they first generation Indians who turn to Bollywood for that much needed dose of nostalgia? What about their kids? Unless Indians keep migrating to the west in droves over the next 50 years, I see the Bollywood audience out there dwindling. In fact migration is bound to decrease and perhaps even stop as India becomes more developed and the west stops offering a better life.
The good thing is that this competition from Hollywood is forcing directors here to make better films. I feel that Bollywood is getting better every year. Although a lot of trashy movies are still released, there are some real gems nowadays too. Indian directors know they can’t compete with Hollywood when it comes to action films (not just yet) so they have started to make films without the usual Bollywood masala to please a certain section of the audience. Cheeni Kum for instance. Five years ago films like Khosla or Cheeni Kum would have flopped…this proves that our audience is changing, becoming more demanding. Today the flop films are the bad films, like Red Swastika or Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. The presence of stars is not enough anymore…
Competition is good and its going to make Bollywood take that big leap forward. After all, the movie industry is a 300 billion dollar business today, and I doubt that Indian directors will be satisfied with their current share of 3.5 billion dollars. And as for Hollywood, they are not going to be satisfied either. If they are jumping headlong into other markets because of the sheer numbers that India offers, they are going to do all they can to make more money out here. After all, more tickets are bought for Indian movies than for Hollywood movies…that is driving them. Today, the price per ticket (about 2 USD) may be peanuts for Hollywood, but they know its a matter of time before prices rise and India becomes a money spinning movie market. Movies you see are the life blood of Indians.
In fact, I won’t be suprrised if in this day and age of globalisation Hollywood producers start hiring Indian directors like Shekhar Kapoor and Mira Nair to make movies to please the Indian market. Oops, hasn’t already happened? Shantaram, a story about an Australian convict (starring Johnny Depp) who escapes from an Australian prision and hides in India is being directed by Nair.
I think we do need to worry about Hollywood. Not just because they have bigger budgets…but because they have the killer instinct. To beat Hollywood what our actors need to do is to start ignoring the Bollywood directors who don’t have scripts ready before they shoot a movie or those directors who shoot songs first and the movie later, or those who weave a story around particular actors, or those directors who want to bank on star value and not story value….
Related Reading: Hollywood and Bollywood are set to meet
Top Ten Bollywood and Hollywood movies of 2006
The different audiences of Bollywood and Hollywood
Double digit growth of Bollywood cheques (2006)
The narcism of celebrities
Bollywood’s good business and star paychecks continue to rise in 2007