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Bollywood and Hollywood…the twain are set to meet!

May 23, 2008

Today India can pay for an Andrew Symonds with ease…and a day will come when our industrialists will be able to buy the top Hollywood stars as well…

I don’t mean that we will get a Brad Pitt to act in a Bollywood movie opposite Kareena Kapoor (though I’d find that amusing!), but we sure will be financing some big movies…and as a result we’ll have more and more films made with Indian and foreign talent, and financed entirely by Indians. On one hand, this should spell the end of Bollywood financing by criminals and on the other…better movies as both Bollywood and Hollywood brains and money will work together…and bring more professionalism into the industry.

India will play an important role in the global entertainment industry
I’m not saying something that hasn’t been said before…that India will have a large role to play in the future of the global entertainment industry. A few months ago the American billionaire investor George Soros, who bought 3 percent of the equity of Reliance Entertainment by investing $100 million(Rs 400 crore), predicted it.

Take our domestic entertainment industry. It’s been galloping ahead at double the pace of Indian Industry for some time now….and latest reports say that the Indian entertainment and media industry will touch $27 billion by 2011(at an annual growth rate of 16.7 percent), faster than its counterparts in Brazil, Russia and China. Sure, growth has slowed (it was 23 percent in 2005) but that’s leading to consolidation, something new in this industry. It’s this change that is worth talking about – the “consolidation, corporatization and convergence.”

Deals struck last year include a $56.6 million investment by Baytree Investments (Mauritius) and others in direct-to-home satellite television player Tata Sky; a $40.2 million infusion by Walt Disney Company in United Home Entertainment (which owns children’s channel Hungama TV); and Reuters Singapore’s investment of $21.9 million in Times Global Broadcasting, the television arm of the Times of India group. Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi Investment House has announced $400 million in funding for an entertainment city in Navi Mumbai (New Bombay)…One of India’s fastest-growing media conglomerates, Network18, snapped up Infomedia, a leader in business directories and B2B and B2C publications. And Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s state-owned investment company, bought into television broadcaster INX Media.

Professionals are getting into various fields like digital distribution and content creation. We can look forward to a day when no Bollywood film will be made without a script and hopefully see the end of the plagiarizing era as well!

Hollywood here comes Bollywood
With so many opportunities floating around why should our industrialists lag behind? Anil Ambani has signed deals with eight Hollywood production houses. Besides this, he has ambitions of making the studio he owns (Reliance Entertainment bought a 50 percent stake in ND (Nitin Desai) Studios for Rs 150 crore last year) as big as any Hollywood studio.

India is a huge market for films
And it’s us, a nation of movie and entertainment hungry fans who will pay for all of this…! We are already one billion strong, and our middle class is three hundred million strong…that’s almost as much as the population of America. And don’t forget we are set to notch up another half a billion in another 50 years…as for a our middleclasses, they are going to double in just another 25 years or so.

To satisfy the needs of our movie hungry population, we already make a humongous amount of movies…the maximum in the world. This is beautifully illustrated here with a cartogram which distorts the size of the different countries of the world according to how many films each country makes.

films produced numbers


Right now the average budget per film in India is very low but once money is pumped into the movie industry things will change. The map below reflects the present situation….but once industrialists start to pour money into films, this map is going to change dramatically…and we can all look forward to better films.

feature film budgets


(Map credits: It was my good friend Axinia who helped me illustrate this post. She told me about these maps, found at strangemaps.wordpress.com. That site in turn had got the cartograms from an advertisement for Volkswagen which showcased the company’s support for independent cinema)

Related Reading: Bollywood cheques keep rising
Lot of jobs for animators in India
Competition from Hollywood will improve our films
Hollywood audiences and Bollywood audiences have different tastes
Film stars pay the highest taxes!

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. radhesh permalink
    May 23, 2008 10:04 am

    I never imagined that Bollywood will grow beyond Hollywood. After reading this post i m optimistic🙂

  2. May 23, 2008 10:55 am

    wow!so the oscars at last🙂 i want to make a film with amir khan,kamal hasan and jonny depp🙂

  3. compulsivewriter permalink
    May 23, 2008 11:06 am

    mr. ambani signing on hollywood a-listers put a smile on my face! so did ur article… very interesting indeed

  4. May 23, 2008 11:20 am

    I really wish that we start making more movies with some substance. We have the money and the talant but what we lack is the variety in stories. As the things are right now, a lot of money goes down the drain in Bollywood. Hopefully this collaboration will bring in more story ideas and professionalism too in our industry,
    p.s. I can’t see India in the lower map at all. Hopefully this will change soon.🙂

  5. May 23, 2008 12:01 pm

    I really wish that we start making more movies with some substance.

    There’s no dearth of literature and literary novels in India – I’d think that almost every state has had writers who wrote in their native language, and all those works remains untapped. A movie like “Pinjar” (based on Amrita Pritam’s novel) is a good example. The Bengali writers’ works have got some exposure, but I’m sure other states and regions have their own stories to tell. But I’m afraid what we’ll get is copy-and-paste movies from Hollywood, quick edits and product placement.

  6. May 23, 2008 1:14 pm

    Radhesh, I am optimistic too.🙂

    Vishesh, Oscars won’t be that important…we’ll learn to value our own awards.

    compulsivewriter, thanks.

    Amit (wordpress) we need more good movies I agree. Right now we have many good movies which are copies of Hollywood movies. A recent example I can think of is Shaurya. There was another great comedy which was a copy of a french movie.

    Amit (blogspot), sorry to butt in to your answer to Amit but can’t help it. You see, the story ideas are of no use because our bollywood directors and producers don’t want to pay for them. They want to copy which is for free. Once more money comes into the industry and therefore more accountability with professionalism I think we will see better movies. The trend has already started, but the way things are now I see few bollywood producers willing to pay for ideas or good scripts. I think the copy paste movies from bollywood is happening now…for example Krisshh. Its either that or straight lifting of stories, and this is far too common. I agree iwth you however that we have a rich culture and a great heritage and lots and lots of ideas but they come at a price.

  7. May 23, 2008 2:30 pm

    India will have a prominent role in the entertainment industry. I will be tough to say which of both, hollywood and bollywood, will be more important in future. I mean the population increase of India is huge and with India also all the Arabean countries love Bollywood.

  8. May 23, 2008 2:31 pm

    please check your spam folder. my previous comment is not showing on this post. thanks a lot.

    That was your third comment in a row which went into the spam folder! A mystery! – Nita.

  9. Ravi permalink
    May 23, 2008 2:40 pm

    I wish Ambani wont appreciate plagiarism in his movies. But I doubt the very survival of bollywood once the plagiarism ends and main stream hollywood biggies enter indian entertainment industry. I dont know how good this would contribute to indian film industry but this will definitely put some lawyers busy in filing law suits🙂

    Hollywood is way ahead of bollywood not because of the money they invest in film making but by the way they make a movie. We have art directors who always add glitter to each and every scene whereas in hollywood they use dull colors preferably blue, white, black and brown but each frame looks rich and fullfilled. We dont even have casting directors to choose right actor to accomplish the role he is assigned. Our editors and cinematographers never show interest in getting a technical degree(i.s.c) to ensure visual quality besides a few in bollywood namely kiran deohns, anil mehta and pradhan.

    Money has nothing to do with the creativity but it helps to add quality. Mother india won oscar in 50’s because it has that quality which our current movies lack despite shelvin 50 crores per film. I would be interesting to see hollywood technicians work for a bollywood movie. I wonder would they suceed in creating the same magic as they did for a titanic or a jurassic park.

  10. vivek mittal permalink
    May 23, 2008 2:56 pm

    i am surprised how Ambanis are entering in each and every field, from selling vegitables to generating power to communication to refineries to entertainment to cricket…….there is no end to it
    On the other hand we have companies like L&T who are only concentrating on their core business ie Engineering………and getting rid of their other diversified businesses like they sold their stake in John deer, then L&T cement , and now RMC business

  11. May 23, 2008 4:02 pm

    great post, Nita!
    I heard that in Bollywood they produce 2 films a day (!).

    What I really like about it that Indians obviously enjoy films very much🙂

  12. Joss permalink
    May 23, 2008 4:43 pm

    What I’d like to see is good actors from over here appearing in Bollywood films. By over here, I mean Britain, which has a thriving film industry according to your fascinating maps. Whenever I have seen British actors in Hindi films (such as Lagaan or The Rising or Rang de Basanti) they have always been complete unknowns. We have great acting talents over here, capable of playing roles as diverse as any Indian can throw at them. And while I’m on this subject, I’d also like to see some good white dancers appearing in item songs! Why these chubby and gormless young women have supplanted all the beautiful Indians dancers I really do not know. The only explanation seems to be that they make the Indian stars look even better. (I’m thinking of the dancers in Om Shanti Om, Bluffmaster and Don, for starters). If they insist on using these white girls at least they should find good ones. Rant over!

  13. Ravi permalink
    May 23, 2008 6:28 pm

    Joss

    Lately we are totally obsessed with white skinned people LOL. Its really weird to replace indian dancers with white female dancers. Industry people thought that its novel to show some white skin for hindi numbers. Film makers take pride in having those white chicks dance with our heroes. Its kind of funny to see a brown dude dancing in between white women. Is there anything in this world more pathetic than that. Definitely those white chicks would make fun of indian dudes at least a million times barring hrithik roshan cause he is exceptionally good at dancing but rest of em are not agile. LOL….Anyhow people seem to enjoy and it will be like this as long as there is noone to complain.

    Peace xx

  14. May 24, 2008 12:42 am

    Do you honestly think Hollywood is anymore creative than Bollywood, though? They seem to be caught in a rut of remakes, sequels, and adaptations.

    I love that budget map; New Zealand gets helped a lot by having three of the biggest films ever shot there.

  15. May 24, 2008 1:14 am

    Justin, you have hit the nail on the head. Most of the HW movies are pretty crappy in terms of creativity, story etc., but since they come in a wonderful packaging of special effects, better editing, and have a lot of “wow” factor, they seem “better” than BW movies. There’s more creativity, beauty and quality in Satyajit Ray’s “Pather Panchali” than most of the current HW movies combined.

    While it’ll be great if BW movies improve their standards, I hope they don’t lose their “Indianness” (or rather the Hindi-belt Indianness)😉 by simply aping HW movies.

  16. Ravi permalink
    May 24, 2008 8:01 am

    I think pather panchali is not a bollywood ‘istyle’ movie. It is more like a pure art form of motion picture in g’olden’ days.

    I hate to use this word “bollywood” cause its evident from the word itself that we copy, adulterate hollywood movies and remake them with substandard technicians and poor actors for indian public.

    Lemme define a typical bollywood movie

    ” Bikini babes+6pack bare chested dudes+white chicks dancing for club numbers+nasal song playing on background+exorbitant set and poor cinematography though+bright colors and a super lame story barring humor ==== bollywood”

    How could Bollywood lose indianness if it doesnt have it. I’ve been in US for a long time and I do watch indian actresses sport a bikini and a short skirt in public. I will be surprised to see indian chicks do the same in public. I will be glad to see that🙂 If doing that is indianness then I will pack my stuff to settle in india for ever.

    I m glad that aamir didnt joined those band of morons to produce same old repetitive stuff. His latest movie is novel and awesome.

  17. May 24, 2008 5:04 pm

    two of the worlds biggest movie industries are gonna join hands is good sign for viewers like me, i am sure there are going to be quality movies. hope they (bollywood) stop ‘remaking’ movies out of ‘inspiration’ !

  18. May 24, 2008 7:55 pm

    What an interesting post.

    I can only hope that this grand merging of money, talent, artistic vision, and money, money, money results in better films! : )

  19. May 25, 2008 5:01 am

    Only 3 million Indian middle class? Surely a typo which your normally alert readers (and commentators) are expected to catch quickly?!😉
    Interesting post, BTW!

    Thanks! This time you caught the typo, usually it’s Amit! It’s been corrected now – Nita.

  20. Ravi permalink
    May 25, 2008 10:46 am

    LOL@xylene

  21. May 25, 2008 10:00 pm

    Unnikuttan, Axinia, Dave, Rambodoc, thanks.

    Ravi, we don’t lack creativity in this country. But nepotism rules and talent gets killed. Hopefully there will be more professionalism in the days to come. And btw, not all bollywood movies are like the way you described, majority are, but you have some real diamonds too.

    Vivek M, true, the Ambanis are entering into many fields. One doesn’t know at this time how these businesess will fare.

    Joss, the problem is that the paychecks out there are more than the producers want to pay. Another thing, over here the average movie goer cannot recognize the known faces…so the producer figures it doesn’t matter!

    Justin, yeah ofcourse Hollywood has crappy movies of it’s own but they seem to be originally crappy!🙂 What I detest here is the copycat behavior, which has become more common in the last decade. When I was growing up we had some wonderful movies, all original.

    Amit, I too dread the losing of the Indianness. One day it will happen I guess, but not during our lifetimes! I mean, the audience has to change for that and right now in India we have a lot of traditional Indian people…however I have noticed that for the NRI audience they seem to be making different type of movies, less Indian so to say.

    Xylene 🙂

  22. May 26, 2008 6:46 am

    for the last 2 decades indian cinema was much bigger than hollywood in quantity of movies , but the money is still with the hollywood biggis
    amit. Hopefully this will change soon.🙂
    hey amit
    for Bollywood to make a substantial amt of good movies there is still lots of time – till then ur mithun da , and his gunda , cheetah and his son mimoh will rule b grade cinemas and ordinary folks eyeballs

  23. May 26, 2008 1:39 pm

    This comes as great news!

  24. May 26, 2008 8:39 pm

    That does make it more fun to watch them. One time we went “Hey, this film is a melding of Superman and the Ben Affleck/John Woo film Paycheck!”

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