News / Asia

India's Bollywood Film Industry Tries to Produce Crossover Movies

Barbara Mori and Hrithik Roshan in a scene from 'Kites'
Barbara Mori and Hrithik Roshan in a scene from 'Kites'

Multimedia

Audio

India's popular film industry, known as Bollywood, is trying its hand at producing films which will appeal to a global audience.  But the popular Mumbai-based movie industry's efforts to break into the international market have made an uncertain start.



The movie Kites, which released in May in more than 30 countries, is an emotional love story of an Indian and a Mexican immigrant in the United States.  Set in Las Vegas, it stars a popular Bollywood actor, Hrithik Roshan and Mexican actress Barbara Mori.  

Its producer, Rakesh Roshan, called it "a truly Indian global film."  Kites was the first big-budget effort by the Hindi film industry to make a movie which would appeal to mainstream audiences in India and in Western countries.

Not impressed

However, the film failed to impress people on either side. Indians said they could not identify with the mix of Hindi, English and Spanish dialogues.  A shorter version, Kites: The Remix, released in countries like the United States, fared even worse. Edited by Hollywood director Brett Ratner, it was an attempt at a Hollywood-Bollywood crossover.

Mumbai-based film trade analyst and critic Komal Nahata says Bollywood film producers have long been enthusiastic about trying their hand at crossover cinema.  But he says their efforts have not met with success, because audiences in India and Western countries are very different.   

"I think it is this urge to tap newer markets, to tap newer audiences," says Nahata.  "But our filmmakers don't realize is that what is lacking is cinema which they enjoy.  You cant jut tweak Bollywood cinema and say that 'I made it for the crossover audience'. Their tastes are completely different, plus their sensibilities are different."

Successful attempt

Bollywood has a massive fan following, not only in India, but in many Asian countries such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  It is also a huge hit with Indians staying in Western countries.  About seven percent of the revenues of the $2 billion industry come from overseas markets.    

The desire to woo Western audiences got a boost after the runaway success of the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. The film was a British production, which used Bollywood talent and was shot in the slums of Mumbai fueled the desire among Bollywood production houses to make a similar hit.  

Of course, a typical Hindi movie is very different to Slumdog.  It is usually a predictable, melodramatic story of boy-meets-girl and overcomes all odds to be together. These films are replete with glitzy song and dance numbers.

Reason for optimism

Many people are optimistic that Bollywood movies have the potential to make their presence felt beyond the traditional markets in India and Asia.  Among them is Mumbai-based film critic Taran Adarsh.  

"That is what has attracted a lot of people from the Western world… our colors, our songs, our dances, the Bollywood masala," Adarsh says.  "I have had a lot of people coming up to me and telling me that they love Bollywood films.  They don't understand the language, but there is something about Bollywood films.  They find it very interesting."

In their quest to win international audiences, Indian film producers are trying to break the mold and explore more contemporary themes.

Bridging the gap

Several movie critics say the success in several countries of a recent Hindi film, My Name is Khan, shows that Bollywood is starting to tap a wider audience.  It is the story of an Indian in America who battles the double problems of fighting Asperger's syndrome (a form of autism) and being a Muslim in a post 9/11 world.     

However, trade analyst Nahata points out that crossover audiences are still "miniscule."  He feels the distance between a Bollywood and a Hollywood movie is too vast to be easily traversed.    

"It has to be a completely different film, which risk the Indian filmmakers won't take because then they fear that the Indian audience and the traditional audiences will be lost to that kind of film, notes Nahata. "The amount of crossover audiences which view our films is so small it hardly matters."

Some Bollywood producers are scaling down their ambitions for crossover projects.  But others are not giving up.  In September, one of India's best known filmmakers, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, will start shooting in the United States for an English language film called Broken Horses, also aimed at global audiences. Like him, many others hope that some day Bollywood -- which produces the most movies in the world -- will manage to make a mark internationally.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid