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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid