The Indian Film Industry

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  • Topic: Bollywood, Cinema of India, Film
  • Pages : 7 (2057 words )
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  • Published : June 22, 2011
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The Indian Film industry is largely a commercial industry with no state subsidies being provided. India is currently the world’s largest producer of films producing more than a 1000 films annually in 52 languages, selling more than 3.7 billion tickets worldwide and having over 400 production houses situated locally. 1288 films were released in India in 2009 (Central Board of Film Certification 6), compared to the USA, which released slightly more than half of India’s figure at 677 films (European Audiovisual Observatory 58).

The first silent feature film made in India was Raja Harishchandra in 1913 (Media Scape n.p.) By the 1930s, the Indian Film Industry produced over 200 silent films annually before the first Indian sound film titled Alam Ara was produced in 1931 (Media Scape n.p.)

The focus of the paper will be with regards to the most significant and popular genre in India: Bollywood. The popular Bollywood genre caters to the large Hindi-speaking population in Northern India. Although the term “Bollywood” was originally used to classify the Hindi language cinema of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), it has been adopted to label the entire Indian Film Industry altogether. The name Bollywood is the portmanteau of Bombay, the former name for Mumbai, and Hollywood, the heart of the American Film Industry (Media Scape n.p.) Bollywood is the oldest film cluster in India, dating as early back to the 20th century.

Bollywood is famous for its Masala films that were originally made in the 1970s and still remain as Bollywood’s dominant genre to this day. Bollywood has been marketed to the West and has gained much popularity overseas, especially due to the growing Indian Diaspora (Dave 3). The growth of overseas box office for Indian films is expected to outpace the industry’s domestic box office at 18% compounded annual growth compared to 13% in India itself (Dave 3) Bollywood’s recent growth has been extraordinary and the industry is recognized as one of India’s top growth clusters. Hindi films made up 20% of total output of films in 2009, followed closely by Telugu (17%) and Tamil (14%) films (European Audiovisual Observatory 58).

The Indian Film Industry has a value chain that is divided into four broad categories: production, distribution and marketing, exhibition and consumption. The production stage involves aspects towards the creation of the film itself. One of the most important aspects of Bollywood is its music, which may sometimes hold more significance than the plot itself. Songs from Bollywood movies are generally pre-recorded by professional playback singers, with the actors then lip synching to the words (Media Scape n.p.) With the increasing penetration of international films in India, there is further pressure for Bollywood films to attain comparable production levels, leading to Bollywood films now being multi-million productions (Media Scape, n.p.)

For distribution and marketing, this is where production houses advertise the movies and sell the film rights to various media. This can be in the form of contractual agreements with exhibitors, physical distribution to theatres, television stations and secondary markets such as the Internet and DVD and sales and marketing decisions in the various distribution markets such as the location and timing of release, advertising etc.

The exhibition aspect is related predominantly to theatres and television stations while the consumption aspect includes all other businesses such as the sale of DVDs and soundtracks. Secondary markets (Television, DVD, satellite television, radio stations etc.) offer a lot of untapped revenue potential for the Indian Film Industry to possibly build on due to the burgeoning affluent middle-class in India.

Unlike Hollywood films, where non-mainstream films are largely isolated from mainstream systems of finance and distribution, Bollywood companies producing mainstream and non-mainstream films aren’t significantly different in...
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