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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid