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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs