Hollywood studios stumbling in Bollywood?

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A number of FICCI-Frames 2009 posts are languishing in draft form on wordpress, but the past few weeks have been very hectic. I will get to them as the semester winds down, but I did want to do a quick write-up of an article about how Hollywood studios’ are struggling to establish themselves in Bombay.

Anupama Chopra has a piece in the NYT outlining how Hollywood studios are discovering that “negotiating the distance between Burbank and Bollywood is trickier than expected” (full story). It’s been a decade since studios like Sony, Warner Bros., and Disney entered the world of film production in Bombay, but they are yet to make any noticeable impact. And why is this?

Chopra attributes it to the fact that Hollywood studios are still learning how to navigate and work within an industry where interpersonal relationships shape every aspect of the film business, where Hollywood-style contracts simply don’t work as well. Yes, it has been a decade since “corporatization” became a buzzword in the industry, with every major production house figuring out how to make the transition from a family-run, entreprenurial unit to a more “corporatized” model. She also quotes Karan Johar who argues that Hollywood studios might not “understand the pulse of this audience.”

Johar isn’t saying anything new – if anything, it’s tiresome. Put Johar or anyone else on the spot and ask them to explain their understanding of the “audience,” and you won’t really get anything concrete either. As Chopra reminds us, it’s not as if Bollywood filmmakers’ hit-to-flop ratio is anything to write home about. But there is something to be said for how long it takes for established business practices to change. What is crucial to note is the fact that Hollywood studio execs are being patient and, most importantly, beginning to recruit top talent within India. Shahrukh Khan’s bravado notwithstanding, execs like Vijay Singh of Fox Star Studios are working, slowly but surely, and there will be several interesting changes in the coming years.

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5 Responses to “Hollywood studios stumbling in Bollywood?”

  1. Sivakumar T Says:

    Aswin,

    More I read your blog, more I get excited.

    I, being a movie buff, always wanted to be associated with the Indian movie industry in one form or the other. Now that I am a B-school student, I am all excited to explore this industry – as part of the market research team / production management / marketing management.

    I also understand that not many movie production houses hire grads from B-schools.

    I’d be grateful if you could throw some pointers on the hiring process – like what kind of profile they ideally expect. I am doing a 1 year management program in Chennai, India – the course ends in April ’10. I’d like to effectively use this one year to land up in my dream industry. My mail id is – siva.storyteller@gmail.com. Please reply.

    Btw, please take time to read through my blog too…

    Thanks!
    Siva

  2. spicebolly.com Says:

    hi u have done a nice piece of work and Thanks for this post ………

  3. Dinamalar Says:

    Well, you’re sharing great updates and information. Nice effort!

    Keep up the posting! All the best :)

  4. Vasudha Says:

    Hi,I have enjoyed reading this article keep up the good work!

  5. Madison Says:

    Hi the post was well written but I did not agree with a few things.

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