International Forum on the Creative Economy : International Forum on the Creative Economy
behind the scenes
Sharada Ramanathan Bollywood – what’s in the name?: Bollywood – what’s in the name?
Bollywood refers to India's film capital centered in the city of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay and thus the origin of the word Bollywood). Bollywood produces more films than anywhere else in the world, including Hollywood.
Amit Khanna, filmmaker, scholar and President of the Film & Television Guild coined this contentious term in the mid seventies in one of his articles and it caught on like wildfire which the purists are still trying to extinguish! Bollywood – what’s in the name? (contd): Bollywood – what’s in the name? (contd)
“People still have a problem with the word ‘Bollywood’. But the whole notion of what’s pejorative has changed. We’ve to see the Indian film industry as a brand. To say Bollywood is demeaning is to question a brand name like Coke or McDonalds.” – Amit Khanna
The term ‘Bollywood’ reflects the politics of cultural colonialism and the politics of representation.
Indian Film Industry (IFI) – facts and figures: Indian Film Industry (IFI) – facts and figures
Over 800 films are censored/released by IFI each year in over 15 languages.
The Indian film industry is the largest in the world in terms of the ticket sales and the number of films produced annually (877 feature films and 1177 short films were released in the year 2003 alone). In contrast, 473 films were produced in the US in 2003.
Movie tickets in India are among the cheapest in the world India accounts for 73% of movie admissions in the Asia-Pacific region, and earnings are currently estimated at US$2.9 billion.
Fourteen million Indians go to the movies on a daily basis (about 1.4% of the population of 1 billion) and pay the equivalent to the average Indian's day's wages (US $1-3) to see a film.
The Central Board of Film Certification of India cites on its website that every three months an audience as large as India's billion-strong population visits cinema halls
Indian Film Industry (IFI) – facts and figures (contd): Indian Film Industry (IFI) – facts and figures (contd) According to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study titled "The Indian Entertainment Industry – An Unfolding Opportunity”, the Indian entertainment industry, which is 95% film based is valued at US $ 4.5 billion.
According to an estimate by FICCI and Ernst and Young Indian entertainment industry would worth more than Rs. 400,000 million in 2008.
It is expected to grow at a compounded rate of 18 per cent a year over the next five years to reach the US $10 billion mark by 2009. Indian Film Industry (IFI) – facts and figures (contd): Indian Film Industry (IFI) – facts and figures (contd) In 2004, the market shares were:
television - 65 % (US$ 4.9 billion),
films - 28 % (US$ 2.15 billion),
live entertainment and music - 3 % (US$ 20 million)
and radio - 1 % (US$ 8 million).
By 2009, television will grow to almost US$ 11.2 billion , followed by films at US$ 5 billion .
Live events will be a US$ 60 million industry, up from
US$ 26.6. million in 2006. Bollywood .vs. Hollywood : Bollywood .vs. Hollywood About 150 Hollywood films (English/sub-titled/dubbed) release in India every year since 1998.
Despite Hollywood’s market penetration, only the film ‘Titanic’ has ever made it to India's top five list. But in 2007, 5 Indian films have made it to the top 5 list in the US and UK.
Indian film screenings in American and British theaters are increasing. South Asians have found Indian films – dominated by Bollywood - to be a great way of staying in touch with their culture and their fellow South Asians. Bollywood .vs. Hollywood (contd): Bollywood .vs. Hollywood (contd) The principal difference between American and Indian commercial cinema is that Indian mainstream/commercial films usually feature periodic song-and-dance routines which need not be integrated into the film story.
The lyrics are usually well written and set to music with catchy tunes, sung by professional play back singers and lip-synched by dancing actors and actresses, and often determine box office hits.
Indian commercial films, are usually 2.5 to 3 hours long, with an intermission. They tend to feature romance, comedy, action, suspense, and other generic elements. Unlike commercial Western films, there is almost no nudity at all in Indian films. The mostly suggestive ‘vulgar’ scenes are usually removed by the Indian Censor Board in ‘public interest’. IFI – the setup: IFI – the setup
IFI started in 1911 when the first silent Indian feature film was released by D.P. Phalke
Cinema ‘industries’ of India
Bengali, Assamese, Bollywood, Kannada, Tamil, Marathi,
Afghani, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Nepali & Lankan IFI – the setup (contd): IFI – the setup (contd) Film Training
Film And Television Institute Of India, Pune Satyajit Ray Film Institute, Kolkatta
Asian Academy of Film & Television, Delhi
Film Institute, Chennai
SAE Institute, Chennai
Prasad institute, Chennai
Whistling Woods, Mumbai
Actors Training Centre, Mumbai
Mindscreen Technical Institute, Chennai IFI – the setup (contd): IFI – the setup (contd)
IFI follows the ‘star’ system. The lead star in a film often receives as much as 40% of the budget (average US $2 million) for the formula/mainstream film. Stars are in such high demand that they're working on an average of 4 films a year.
Since natural location shooting is impractical in India, the concept of the ‘film city’ has emerged and there are now film cities in the three major film sub-industrial hubs in Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.
IFI – the setup (contd): IFI – the setup (contd) The financial infrastructure for Indian cinema is customized to the traditional differentiation between art and commercial cinema.
‘Commercial’ cinema claims to be for the ‘masses’ and follows the generic formula with a good deal of ‘westernization’ element.
‘Art’ films usually deal with a wide range of subjects but many are in general explorations of complex human circumstances and relationships within an Indian setting.
More than 95% of film financing goes towards ‘commercial cinema’
The National Film Development Corporation was set up in (year) to counter this trend and promote “excellence in cinema”. IFI – the setup (contd): IFI – the setup (contd) Two Indian production/distribution companies are ranked among the world's top 20 production houses by a Hollywood Reporter survey.
The corporatisation of the film industry and the mushrooming multiplexes, which cater to the expanding middle class of 300 million Indians and the diaspora are setting the trend for the future of IFI. IFI – the setup (contd): IFI – the setup (contd) An estimated 6 million people earn their livelihood from the entertainment industry – Film and TV
Unionization of the film industry is a state subject. Each Indian state with a film industry has several registered unions for all categories of actors and technicians.
It is critiqued that the film unions have excessive control over production processes.
About 70% of television revenues are from films and film-based programs – source: FICCI
In-film advertising is helping to build brands and proving to be a revenue-spinner for several ad agencies. Film placements are currently raking in anything between Rs 5,00,000 to Rs 50 million for the producers. IFI – the setup (contd): IFI – the setup (contd) In-Film advertising generates anything between US$ 15,000 – 200,000 per film for film budget sizes ranging from USD 500,000 - Million.
Film stars forge strategic linkages with advertising products and earn a separate income from this co-branding that ranges from USD 25,000- 2 million per star, per co-branding.
Film production scales: high-budget – US$ 15 million. Medium budget – US$2 million. Low budget – US$130,000- 1.5 million,
Very low budgets for independent films and documentaries. Films on environment and wildlife are negligible.
Indian Cinema - impact: Indian Cinema - impact The impact of Indian cinema is in terms of :
International Perceptions of India
Indian Cinema – impact Political: Indian Cinema – impact Political
Instrument of patriotism – since the freedom movement in the 1930s upto the most recent war for Kashmir.
Mass electorate and film stars – Four film stars have become Chief Ministers in two South Indian states
Cinema as instrument for political careers – The current chief minister of Tamilnadu became popular as an ideological Script writer
Indian Cinema – impact Political (contd): Indian Cinema – impact Political (contd) In contrast, Bollywood stars have failed political careers since they don’t represent any ideology and attain stardom mostly through socially disconnected films for non-urban audiences.
Film related stars as national icons e.g. of Aamir Khan (tribals activism) and A.R. Rahman (remixes of national songs)
Film stars are wooed and paid handsomely to campaign for political parties during elections.
Indian Cinema – impactSocial: Indian Cinema – impact Social Mainstream Indian films are contexualized in 3 broad social spaces –
The ‘Real’ – reality is attempted to be depicted in ‘art’ cinema
The ‘Unreal’ – the context could be Indian but the protagonist is unreal/superhero.
The ‘Surreal’- the context is aspirational such as a European/American/Pseudo-Indian setting. Neither the context nor the cinematic style has any connection with reality
The Unreal and Surreal sub-genres abet and promote aspirational lifestyle and Indian perceptions of western materialism.
Gender equations/dynamics of youth are influenced by film stars’ behavioural patterns on and off screen Indian Cinema – impactCultural: Indian Cinema – impact Cultural Mainstream formula films are based on their own perceptions of westernization in every aspect of film making
The cinema-advertising nexus promotes not just products but lifestyles where culture specificities and nuances are threatened.
Indian films have a tangible impact on youth. The cinema-advertising nexus deliberately develop and merchandize Film trends/styles – from hair clips to retro-wardrobes
The new trend of commercial films fashioned in culturally alien settings aims to reach ‘global’ urban audiences and the diaspora. However, it was a film maker rooted in his culture who won the lifetime achievement award at the Oscars.
Indian Cinema – impact (contd): Indian Cinema – impact (contd) Economic content
More than 50% of The Indian TV industry’s revenue is derived from film-based programs. The top three revenue earners of all channels are film-based programs.
Film stars are used as protagonists for the growing industries of animation, gaming, and new media comics
Live events and film award functions are revenue earners since the branded stars participate even though the quality of the event is often compromised.
Indian Cinema – impact (contd): Indian Cinema – impact (contd)
Bollywood as the mainstream face of India is problematic
Non-Resident Indian film makers are also perceived as representing Indian cinema.- Deepa Mehta, Meera Nair. Hollywood used them as entry points to Indian cinema.
The international film festivals are the only platforms for Indian cinema to be properly represented and the presence of quality mainstream cinema is increasing.
Indian Cinema – impact (contd): Indian Cinema – impact (contd) Since the TV boom, film stars are being shipped in to please the diaspora - Shilpa Shetty and ‘Big Brother’ in the UK
Indo-American and Indo-European productions are now underway. The former is hard-core commercial while the latter is strictly art-films oriented.
Indian cinema is a powerful vehicle for the diaspora to stay ‘connected’ with its ’roots’. But the quality of this vehicle is critiqued and questioned.