Wednesday, September 21, 2011



The 21st century was when Indian cinema finally found some sort of a balance between the ever genres of popular commercial and parallel cinema. Several new films were produced which brought to light the fact that Indian cinema could be meaningful and yet be commercially successful. Some of the best movies of the past decade have been – Lagaan (2001), Devdas (2002), Koi... Mil Gaya (2003), Rang De Basanti (2006), Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006), Chak De India (2007), , Wake Up Sid, No Smoking, Dev D, Mr and Mrs Iyer, Raincoat, My Brother Nikhil, Mumbai Meri Jaan, Aks, Pinjar, Monsoon Wedding, Omkara, Maqbool, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Khosla Ka Ghonsla, Blue Umbrella, Seher, Naach, Aamir, Astitva, Zubeida, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Manorama Six Feet Under, Black Friday, Matribhoomi, Haasil and more recently Peepli Live. Among the mainstream films, Lagaan won the Audience Award at the Locarno International Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards, while Devdas and Rang De Basanti were both nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Though India has always been partial to its film stars, with actors like Amitabh Bacchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Amir Khan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar having careers which span decades, it has also of late become open to new and young talent like Ranbir Kapoor, Abhay Deol, Neil Nitin
Mukesh and John Abraham.

The 2000’s saw a growth in the popularity of Indian cinema all over the world. After a very long time mainstream Indian films seemed to have caught the fancy of the international markets. The lines of distribution which had been silently working towards commercial distribution of Indian films abroad found themselves in demand in over 90 countries outside of its own. Dev Benegal's ROAD MOVIE (2010) was sold for international distribution before it was sold in India. This was just the right amount of boost that the filmmakers required and there was a marked improvement in the quality of the content produced with superior technological innovations in cinematography, special effects and story lines. The earlier trends in cinema had sought only to please the Indian audiences, but this has changed with time and now films are made with a global perspective in mind. The entire film experience is no longer limited to the cinema halls. There are now progressive pre release marketing, promotions of television channels and radio.

Old film production studios that had monopolised the market in the 90’s reinvented themselves to suit the new Indian cinema goer’s preferences (Like Yash Raj Films and Dharma Productions). Those which could not change were left behind in the race. Economic growth of the country in general and rising disposable income levels in particular clubbed with the gradually liberalising attitude of the Government by bringing forth favourable regulatory initiatives liberalized the foreign direct investment in the Indian film industry. Since 100% FDI was allowed in Film Industry including film financing, production, distribution, exhibition, and marketing and associated activities related to film industry. This resulted in a lot of foreign companies like Time Warner, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight and Disney to either setup offices in India or enters into lucrative partnerships with the existing production houses.

If the early pioneers like Dadasaheb Phalke, Bhatavdekar and Hiralal Sen were to see the progress that the industry has made they would be nothing short of astonished. For the past 103 years India has been home to a very lucrative global enterprise – the Film Industry. India is the largest producer of films (annually) in the world.

In the year 2009, despite the economic slowdown, India produced more than 3000 films (over 1315 feature films). The Indian film industry today easily eclipses Hollywood both in terms of the number of films produced and theatrical admissions. Indian films find a market not only domestically but also in over 100 different countries across the globe. According to a recent report by the research firm KPMG, the industry is currently worth about US$ 1.8 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16 per cent for the next 5 years to reach US$ 3.8 billion in 2011. The industry has shown consistent growth both commercially and creatively. With time it has produced countless award winning films and directors who have received the highest honours at prestigious film festival and award functions on an international level. But the current challenge that lies before the industry today is to learn how to market its content effectively.

Fortunately the trade pundits have given indications of some very strong growth drivers like expansion of multiplex screens resulting in better realizations of revenue, increase in number of digital screens facilitating in wider film prints releases, enhanced penetration of home video segment, increase in number of TV channels fuelling demand for film content and improving collections from the overseas markets. Nevertheless, the challenges like managing cost of production to arrest the fall in profitability levels, increasing competition from other media, constant supply pressure, piracy and regulatory hurdles are keeping the industry from performing to the best of its capabilities. Regardless, several market reports (by KPMG and PWC) project limitless growth for the industry in the years to come.

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