Bollywood director Ram Gopal Verma once said that if he had the resources, he would release 52 movies in a year. No doubt that Indians love to watch movies, and several movies get released every week, but the fact is that there just aren’t enough good movies that manage to capture the attention of the audiences.
No wonder that foreign blockbusters are having it easy in India. Besides, the penetration of multiplexes in smaller cities in India means Hollywood blockbusters are also breaking records at the box office. Of late, Hollywood movies have been having a dream run in India, with several Hollywood films releasing alongside Hindi films and trouncing their Hindi counterparts at the box-office. With some big-ticket Hollywood franchises to be released in India in the coming months, Indian filmmakers know that they have to get their house in order in order to compete.
Amitabh Bachchan Wary of Hollywood
Leave aside filmmakers, even Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan feels Hollywood is real threat to Hindi cinema. He warns that Hollywood has destroyed the local film industry whereever it has gone.
“We have to fight them. This is competition. Hollywood is powerful. Wherever it has gone, it has destroyed the local film industry. Be it United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain or Japan, everywhere they go they just take over and that’s what is happening in India. So we have to fight. Competition is good,” said Bachchan.
“Every time I used to go for holidays in the US, all these big corporations like Warner Bros, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox used to send me letters saying they wanted to meet me. ‘Why would they want to meet me when they don’t even know me,’ I used to ask myself. Finally I went, the chief who I met spoke non-stop about the entire film industry of India. He had every knowledge of how we do our films, how we produce them, the financials, the distribution, the actors who they are and what they do. I was shocked. I predicted that in 1995 when I made ABCL (Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd) that the Americans will come and they will have so much money that we will only be a drop in the ocean. So let’s get our house in order.”
More Foreign (Hollywood) Blockbusters Challenge Bollywood Biggies at the Box Office
Not long ago, it would have been considered ‘big’ had a Bollywood movie crossed 100 crore rupees. Although some of the recent Bollywood blockbusters have been generating much bigger numbers, its still a great figure to achieve in India (and least expected from a Hollywood film).
But guess what?
For the first time ever, India saw three Hollywood films crossing the 100 crore milestone (‘Furious 7’ topping the list, generating 172 crore in India), and that too in a year which saw some biggies like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Baahubali and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.
Irrfan Khan Believes Hollywood Can Affect the Business of Bollywood
Internationally acclaimed actor Irrfan Khan (featured in foreign films like Slumdog Millionaire, The Amazing Spider-Man, Life of Pi, Jurassic World) is the only Indian actor who currently is having the best of both the worlds – Hollywood as well as Bollywood. He’s in demand in both the film industries and is in a better position to understand (as well as compare the businesses).
Irrfan feels that Hollywood films do have the muscle to affect the business of Bollywood films. Hollywood has a bigger reach, is more powerful, has its own universal language, and can dominate Indian cinema.
In recent times, Hollywood films like Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World (in which Irrfan had a meaty role) have proved that Hollywood films can create magic at the box office even in India. On the other hand, Bollywood films are not yet in a position to compete with Hollywood.
Hollywood Movies Need to Plan their Release Around Bollywood’s Biggies
Having said that, Hollywood is well aware of the power of the Bollywood stars (Shahrukh, Salman), especially during the festive season, where the audience may prefer to watch something familiar, something more Indian. Besides, a Bollywood film like Dilawle, Bajirao mastani or Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, is more likely to take away all the screens leaving very few screens for Hollywood films.
No wonder, Star Wars: The Force Awakens delayed its release by a week (because of SRK’s Dilwale). Spectre delayed its release in India by two weeks (because of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo).
So in the future, its very likely that Hollywood movies may avoid direct competition with major domestic films.
Nothing to Worry Say Bollywood Veterans
Big filmmakers like Ramesh Taurani say there’s nothing to be worried about the influx of big Hollywood films. After all, aren’t Indian films driven by emotions and feelings, just like our culture?
Having said that, because there’s lot of money at stake, just like any other market risks, Bollywood film-makers do try and avoid clashing with big English films, to be on the safe side.
But with the recent performance of Hollywood films like Fast & Furious 7, Jurassic World at the Box Office, Bollywood is definitely going to be more cautious.
Hollywood’s Success Limited to Famous Franchises
Bollywood filmmakers/producers currently must be happy with the fact that Hollywood’s popularity in India is still largely dependent on the famous franchises. So, some of the biggest Hollywood earners in India till now, have been Quantum Of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012), The Avengers (2012), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013) and the Harry Potter films. Films like Avatar (2009; that made over 100 crore in India) and 2012 (2009) have done exceptionally well.
Dubbing in Regional Languages Adds to the Revenue
There was a time when Hollywood films were considered niche in India, but that’s no longer the case. They now have a large audience, because Hollywood studios have now started releasing films in tier-II and tier-III markets as well.
English films are being dubbed in regional languages to reach more audiences, and that is definitely bringing in additional revenue to English films.
Upcoming Bollywood vs Hollywood Clashes
Here are some of the Bollywood films that will clash (or have clashed) with the big-budget Hollywood franchises in the coming months.
- Insidious: Chapter 3 will clash with Dil Dhadakne Do (starring Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra). In this case, the Hollywood film could not impact the business of Dil Dhadakne Do.
- Ant-Man will release a day after Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan: It was Bajrangi Bhaijaan all the way.
- Jurassic World will clash with Hamari Adhuri Kahaani (starring Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi). In this case, Jurassic World walked away with all the honours
- Mission Impossible 5 and Fantastic Four will clash with Ajay Devgn’s Drishyam remake
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens will release in India on the same day as Hera Pheri 3
Several other big budget Hollywood films will be released in the coming months in India.
Looking at these clashes, I don’t think Bollywood films are going to feel the heat yet, as audiences are most likely to watch all (or most) of these movies. If Indian film-makers can continue to up their game there’s nothing to feel threatened about.