India's film and television industry is getting global attention as it grows into a multi-billion dollar industry. A recent conference in Bombay brought together hundreds of foreign delegates to explore business opportunities offered by India's entertainment sector. India's film industry, popularly known as Bollywood, produces nearly 1,000 movies a year, the largest number in the world. And more than 40 million Indian households have access to cable television, including foreign channels.
Television and film producers and directors from nearly 20 countries, as well as representatives from companies such as Walt Disney, came to Bombay recently to tap the potential of this huge entertainment industry.
Some participants came to encourage Indian film producers to shoot movies in Britain. Bollywood movies are often shot overseas, making this a lucrative revenue-earner for some countries.
Other delegates wanted to explore the possibility of doing more business in India. Andy Bird, president of Walt Disney International, sees great opportunity for animation production in India, because of the country's large English-speaking work force with technology skills.
Mr. Bird says Disney also wants to expand in India, where nearly a third of the billion-plus population is under 15 years of age, and where Disney's animated films are already popular.
"We are looking at all the different avenues," he said. "We are very keen to learn not only about the animation business, but all the other types of business that the Walt Disney company is involved in."
Some foreign film producers think Bollywood has the potential to make movies with a wider international appeal.
Mark Byers, president of a Los Angeles film company, is collaborating with a Bombay filmmaker to make a movie about a single Indian woman. The project was inspired by the success of recent Indian films, such as Monsoon Wedding, that have found some success with Western audiences.
Pakistani producers and directors also attended the conference, despite a ban on Indian films in Pakistan.
They say Pakistan offers a huge market for Bollywood films, and the time is ripe to tap this potential because of recent peace moves between the two countries. Pirated versions of Indian films are sold in Pakistan, resulting in huge revenue losses for producers and distributors in both countries.
Media analysts say global interest in Indian film and television could boost the country's growing entertainment industry.