Bollywood

As we heard from the FT this morning, film stars in India often graduate into politics, putting their fame to use at the ballot box.

Stars from Bollywood and many of its regional language peers have been making the move into politics for decades now, supporting parties from either end of the political spectrum. But this year, parts of the film industry have been pushing the electorate to vote for a ‘secular’ party – a thinly veiled nudge away from would-be prime minister, Narendra Modi. Read more

If you had to choose any Hollywood star to take over from Barack Obama as the leader of the world’s most powerful country, who would it be? Would you choose Henry Cavill, a.k.a Superman? Or maybe Jennifer Lawrence, because US politics could use some of the humour evident in her Oscars night speech.

In India, such questions are far from idle. Actors from Bollywood – and its regional language kin – regularly switch into politics after their reputations are made. This is good for political parties looking to win seats, fun for onlookers and it does sprinkle stardust over election campaigns.

But is it good for the electorate? Read more

Waiting for Hollywood to call?

To the rest of the world, Bollywood is the face of Indian cinema. But the country’s lesser-known regional film centres, such as Kollywood and Tollywood, are emerging as the new money spinners in the industry.

Overall, the Indian film industry is set to grow by around 11.5 per cent over a five year period, hitting Rs193bn ($3.1bn) by 2017, according to a FICCI-KPMG report, on the back of a growing middle class population and plans to build more multi-screen cinemas. Read more

Venezuela used to be a telenovelas superpower. Soap operas such as Abigail, Cristal and others were hits all over Latin America back in the 1980s and 1990s. The industry lost some of its shine in the past decade, and a nascent film industry gave birth in recent times to epic movies about South American liberators.

Now, determined to ramp up its production industry, the Venezuelan government is seeking advice from no other than the world’s film superpower: Bollywood. Read more

Crowdfunding may be the new fashionable financing option in the global start-up scene but it’s a well-established practice in India. In 1976, director Shyam Benegal financed his film Manthan by collecting Rs2 each from thousands of Indian farmers, whose cause was presented in this story about a rural milk co-operative.

Like Manthan, most examples of crowdfunding in India have occurred offline. But now green shoots are emerging in online, too. Read more

A company that launched on April Fool’s Day and takes its name from the Hindi word for chaos doesn’t sound like a winner.

But in its 14 years Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, the parent of Hungama.com, has grown to become the world’s largest aggregator and distributor of Bollywood entertainment.

It works with more than 400 content creators to distribute material in 47 countries through over 150 partners. With viewers in 127 countries, India’s Rs112.4bn film industry, which recently celebrated its centenary, is certainly not short of paying customers. Read more

In developed economies like the UK “old” has become “vintage”. In emerging India, “old” is still simply “old”. So while single-screen, independent cinemas are the fashionable choice for Londoners, moneyed Mumbaikars prefer a shiny new multiplex.

As in many markets, the rise of the multiplex has pushed many of India’s single-screen theatres into closure. But now in India, too, single-screen cinemas are staging a comeback – but one led by the mass market, not the rarefied few. Read more

Ads are something of an institution in Indian television. Visitors to the country often walk away bemused by the hours of screen time devoted to grannies tempting audiences with baked goods, or preened ladies offering skin-lightening cream.

But this is all about to change. Read more

The bulk of Bollywood films are not exactly known for their trenchant social commentary. Modern Bollywood music even less so. Songs about sexy girls and boyz [sic] tend to dominate.

So it is rare that a mainstream Bollywood song takes aim at corporate India. But that is exactly what a song from the upcoming movie “Chakravyuh”, a film about the Naxalite separatist movement which releases next month, has done. And it has elicited a response from the Confederation of Indian Industry. Read more

Two of the world’s largest film industries may be forging closer ties as US-based Universal Pictures joins the ranks of those looking to crack the Indian market, according to reports on Friday.

The entertainment giant is the latest Hollywood big gun to join to make a foray into Bollywood, following Disney’s takeover of India’s UTV earlier this year and Sony’s entrance in 2008. But according to analysts. it may be harder than it looks for foreign production houses to realise their Bombay dreams. Read more

Nothing like random musical numbers, overacting and scantily-clad-yet-somehow-still-chaste actors and actresses to bring two age-old enemies together.

How else to explain Pakistan’s growing status as a major market for India’s Bollywood films? Read more

Lady Gaga

For the last few years – and for better or worse – it has been nearly impossible to enter a bar, club, gym or salon in India without hearing the auto-tuned stylings of Senagalese-American pop star Akon.

The same is true today. Only now he’s singing in Hindi.

Akon is part of a new crop of Western artists looking to tap the vast Indian market the only way possible: through its movies. Read more

Mumbai, the home of Bollywood, will from this week have its very own film studios to rival those in Culver City, where Hollywood stardust gets made. The Anil Ambani-owned Reliance MediaWorks (RMW) is hoping that the company’s new studios business will attract filmmakers from the US and Europe to the country’s movie capital.

Film City, the heart of what is formally known as Hindi cinema, will now host India’s most modern studios, and promises to meet international standards, down to the very smallest safety detail. Read more

Watching a recent Bollywood remake of the Hollywood Stepmom original, one might be forgiven for wondering why plastic tubs seem to feature as much as the celebrities who star in it. The reason for pervasive product placement in the film has to do with a new concept in India’s advertising world that is gaining traction: 360-degree marketing.

Not only are advertisers now visible on the big screen, they are benefiting from their own film release-associated adverts. Welcome to the new India where more competition for consumers means advertisements are featuring more prominently in the daily lives of Indians. Read more