India’s Bollywood film industry, a huge part of the cultural fabric of the movie-mad country of 1.4 billion, is facing its biggest crisis yet as streaming services and non-Hindi language rivals steal its shine. The South Asian giant produces an average of around 1,600 movies each year, more than any other country, traditionally spearheaded by glitzy Bollywood, with fans worshiping movie stars as deities and crowds packing premieres. But now cinemas are silent, even in the Bollywood powerhouse of Mumbai, and box office receipts are falling after Covid restrictions were lifted.
“This is the worst crisis I have ever faced,” Manoj Desai, a veteran theater owner based in Mumbai, told AFP. Some screenings were canceled because “the public was not there”.
Usually bankable megastar Akshay Kumar had three movies in a row. His colleague Aamir Khan, the face of some of India’s most successful films, fails to captivate audiences. Forrest Gump reconstruction Lal Singh Chaddha,
Karan Taurani, a media analyst at Elara Capital, said that of more than 50 Bollywood films released last year, fewer than usual due to the pandemic, only a fifth met or exceeded revenue target. Before the pandemic it was 50 percent.
In contrast, several Telugu-language films, also known as Tollywood, a South Indian competitor to Hindi-language Bollywood, have risen to the top.
State Bank of India Chief Economic Adviser Soumya Kanti Ghosh said in a recent report that from January 2021 to August this year, almost half of the box office earnings of Hindi-language films were called southern deals.
Ghosh wrote, “Bollywood, after decades of storytelling…seems to be at a turning point unlike any interruption before it.”
Bollywood, like other film industries, has been hit by the streaming boom, which began before the pandemic but when millions of Indians were forced to stay at home.
According to a government estimate, nearly half of India’s population has access to the internet and streaming services, including international players like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ Hotstar, which have 96 million subscriptions.
Some of the movies released during the Covid lockdown went directly to these platforms, while others hit the small screen just a few weeks after debuting in theaters.
With monthly streaming subscriptions less than or comparable to the cost of a ticket (100-200 rupees ($1.20-$2.50) at single-screen theaters and more at multiplexes), theaters were avoided by price-sensitive audiences, analysts said.
Times have been tough enough that Inox and PVR, two of India’s largest multiplex operators, announced their merger in March to “scale up”.
Meanwhile, subscribers were exposed to local and global streaming content, including films in the southern languages of Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada, which already had a dedicated local fanbase.
Film critic Raja Sen said: “Regional cinema was not expanding beyond its limits. But now all of a sudden everyone was watching Malayalam cinema or Maharashtrian cinema and then you realize… there are filmmakers who count more interesting stories.
“Then they see a Hindi blockbuster coming out with a star that’s like a remake of a story they’ve heard a million times, so they’re not that impressed anymore.”
Critics also accused Bollywood of making elite or niche films that don’t resonate in a country where 70 percent of the population lives outside of cities.
Aamir Khan admitted during a media interview Lal Singh Chaddha That Hindi filmmakers’ choice of “what is relevant to them may not be as relevant to a wider audience”.
Where, Tollywood Mega-Smash Hits Pushpa: Uday Y RRR Highlighting the value of everyday people while treating the audience to larger-than-life eyeglasses with catchy songs and dance routines.
Formulas like these have long been a mainstay of Bollywood, but film critics say Southern Challenge was making it bigger and better.
“To get people into theaters, we need to create a storytelling experience that can’t be replicated at home,” said Akshay Rathi, multiple theater operator and business analyst.
“What we have to do is respect their time, money and effort. And every time we do that, for a particular movie, they come out in huge numbers.”
wake up call
Taurani, who described recent Bollywood struggles as “dangerous,” said now securing box office success with a star as your hero is no longer a guarantee.
“I think the audience obviously wants a star, but the audience wants a star to act in a movie that has compelling content,” he said.
Kumar, dubbed the “one-man industry” for being so prolific, said he would go back to the drawing board.
The Indian Express told Kumar in August: “If my films don’t work, it’s our fault, it’s my fault. I have to change, I have to understand what the public wants.”
There have been repeated social media campaigns against some Hindu right-wing films to exacerbate Bollywood’s problems, including Forrest Gump Redo.
Recently, there have been calls for new releases. brahmastra A few years ago, star Ranbir Kapoor had to be boycotted for his comments about eating meat. Cows are considered sacred by Hindus.
But by creating unwanted noise, analysts say, there was no material impact on box office receipts. brahmastra Really well done.
Movie goers outside a Mumbai cinema told AFP the real problem was that many Bollywood movies weren’t good enough.
“The story has to be good (and) the content has to be good, so people want to watch it,” said Preeti Sawant, a 22-year-old student.
“That’s why people don’t come to see movies.”
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by UttarPradeshLive.Com staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)
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