From Bollywood to Britain At BAFTA on 4th December 2007

  1. Welcome and thank you to Amy and BAFTA for hosting this event.
  2. Aim is to celebrate the achievements if Indian Cinema and the growing relationship between the Indian and British film industries.
  3. We hope this will be the beginning of many such debates and screening of films at BAFTA.
  4. The organisation is rising to the challenges of diversifying its membership to include the growing young Black and Asian audiences. One way of doing this is to offer diverse programmes, which reflect the cultural mix of Britain.
  5. Before inviting the panel and showing some clips of our work I would like to share some facts about the nature of the market for Asian-Indian films.

INTRODUCTION;

  • Next year will see the release of Seven (7) Asian-Indian Films, the opening of the Bombay Dreams musical and as yet unknown number of new Bollywood films in the UK alone.
  • The Film are:

The Warrior by Asif Kapadia – UK

Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair– UK

Anita and Me adpted by Meera Syal – UK

Bend it Like Bechkam by Gurinder Chada

Bollywood Queen – UK

American Desi – USA

Mystic Messier – UK/Caribbean

  • Films like East is East is took £10.3 m in UK has helped to establish the crossover potential of Asian led stories. The film also did well abroad: $4.1 in US and DM 2.5 in Germany and in France 274,000 saw the film. The only other film to come close to this success was My Beautiful Laundrette in the early 80’s. Monsoon Wedding set to release in January could do the same.
  • The commercial potential of Asian- Indian cinema has been established by the success of filmmakers like M Night, Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta, Warris Hussein, Deepak Nayer, Gurinder Chada, Shakur Kapur among others. And more recently Asif Kapadia.
  • Crossover talent in the form of writers, actors like Meera Syal ( Anita and Me) Sanjeev Bhasker to name a few.
  • Asian talent and popular films are every where – Baz Luhrmann’s Mouline Rouge; Mira Nair’s populist Monsoon Wedding (won the Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival); the Warriors by Asif Kapadia; Shakur Kapur’s Four Feathers; Jimi Mistry in The Guru of Sex; Bollywood Queen – a Romeo Juliet Story set in the East End and the Andrew Lloyd Webers Bombay Dreams – West End Musical.
THE INDIAN DIASPORA MARKET

UK:

  • In the UK this market is vibrant and cash rich. The staggering combined wealth of Britain’s 200 wealthiest Asians is over £10 billion according to Eastern Eye, the publication responsible for compiling the annual rich list. Asians are three times more likely than others to become new millionaires. The top 50 in the Asian Rich List are worth £8.1 billion. 180 out of the 200 are self-made millionaires. The UK Asian population stands at 3 million, earning £40 billion altogether. 2/3 of Asian adults have disposable income of £30m.
  • The Asians have been watching Bollywood movies: from specialist cinemas in 70’s to video rentals in 80’s and satellite tv channels in 90’s. Asian are five times more likely to go to the cinema than their white counterparts.
  • The UK has now become the main location for Bollywood Films. On average 15-16 movies are shot in UK. London is the launch pad for the Indian Entertainment industry – music, films, and fashion.

INDIAN DIASPORA:

  • Outside of the UK the Indian Diaspora numbers approximately 10 million. Spread across the world including UEA Middle East, South Africa South East Asia New Zealand Australia and US.
  • Their gross personal income is US$ 125 billion.
  • Annual export earnings from film for the Indian market is growing at 80% for the last two years. Expected to reach $3.2 billion in next 5-7 years. (Anderson Consulting)
  • Emerging markets include New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Tanzania and Kenya.
  • Some of the recent mainstream Bollywood films have earned more abroad than at home.
  • International rights include Video, Cinema and Satellite rights.
  • Some of the best places to watch Indian films – Cineworld Wood Green; Himalaya Palace, Southall, Saari Cinema, Harrow, Uxbridge Odeon, Boleyn Cinema, Newham, Illford Cinema.
  • Lagaan first Bollywood film to crossover to mainstream theatre in the UK where it took £656,164 compared to the $835,767 in US. It’s the Indian entry for an Oscar. SET is in talks with Columbia Tri-Star to release in US and Europe. Cost £3.5 m.
THE INDIAN MARKET
  • India Produces 800 films a year. 13,000 cinemas. Billion strong audience. Grosses $200 m annually, sells 600 billion tickets worldwide.
  • The 150–200 million strong Indian middle class is maturing in taste and is looking for meaningful films. Largest market is Delhi and UP with a population of 150 million.
  • Advent of satellite and cable has given this audience a taste of the international quality cinema. Huge programme of construction of new Multiplexes across the country is bringing the audiences back to the cinema. Internet has played it part in connecting audiences across the Diaspora.
  • In 1999 Unifrance and TV France led a delegation to India to meet TV and Film. In the process of signing a Co-Production treaty?

NEW AGE OF BOLLYWOOD:

  • The emergence of the new Bollywood Brigade in the last four years has been solely responsible for the huge success of Bollywood films.
  • They are 20-30 raised on Hollywood but firmly grounded in Bollywood, current generation of directors, writer, musicians, choreographers, art directors, editors, stylists, distributors and publicists. New Age of Bollywood. MTV Youth, Modern, Good wholesome family values. Taken Indian Box office by storm and led the way in UK.
  • Directors like Sooraj Barjatya (30) who directed Maine Pyar Kiya andHumAapke Hain Kauntwo of the biggest hits of Indian cinema when he was just 24 years old. Set the tone for Family value films. Broke all records. 14 songs. Spearheaded a traditionalist revival in Hindi cinema. A Cook from Bombay saw the film 120 days in a row. Ran for 50 weeks in two theatres in London. MF Hussain said HAHK is at the root of Indian culture. It was turned into successful stage production titled 14 Songs and Two Weddings.
  • Next came Karen Johar (28) with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Took £1.7m in UK and was no 1 in 1998. Second film to crossover to the young British Asian market. His next film is Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghamabout family togetherness, the love of our partners.
  • Aditya Chopra – Dil to Pagal Hai, Mohabbateinwhich took £1.1 m in UK on 40 prints. Yash Raj Films. Vertically integrated company with Production, Distribution and currently building a studio in Bombay.
  • Farah Khan choreographer has bought MTV style hippness to Rangeela. Dancers are urbane, slim, fresh faces.
  • Music key to success of a Bollywood film.Not just Anu Malik or AR Rahman. Noorani, Mendonca and Mahadevan trio associated with big movies. Looking for new sounds, elusive difference. Ahmed Khan trendy songs from MTV
  • Santosh Sivan, cinematographer turned director of Asoka and his much promoted film The Terrorists.
  • Presentation is all. Take Mohabbatein, KKKG, KKHH
  • Look of the films have changed – funky sets, Sharmishta Roy did Taal
  • Stylist Manish Malhotra transforming gawky duckling into elegant swans.

KEY FACTORS FOR SUCCESS IN THE UK OF ASIAN-INDIAN FILMS: EXHIBITION, TELEVISION AND DISTRIBUTION.

  • Improvement in exhibitionwith Cine UK, Warner Village, UGC regularly screening Asian product.
  • Asian satellite channels. There are now 15 channels catering for the 3 million Asians. All show Asian films. Growing video market especially DVD.
  • Established Asian owned distributorslike SET, Eros and Yash Raj Films provide the films. Showing quality films with strong Storylines and high production values. Staggering to see the 2ndand 3rdgeneration British Asians supporting this cinema. Not action movies. About family values.
  • Eroscontrols 70% of the UK marketplace. Their next challenge is to promote English–language films. They are distributing Monsoon Wedding with FFD and American Desi. Market to mass audience. Crossover will come with advertising spend. They are talking of introducing Bollywood to Blockbuster video chain. Launched B4U – world’s first 24hr movie digital channel launched in 1999. Their film Dil Se was the first to make it on UK Box Office charts.
  • Yash Raj Filmstaking the subtitled approach. Tested with Mohabbatein took over a £1m in the UK alone with only 40 prints and P&A spend of £35,000!
  • Sony Entertainment Television Asia (SET)released Lagaan set the pace for crossover films. Lagaan – first Bollywood film to crossover to mainstream theatre in the UK where it took £656,164 compared to the $835,767 in US. It’s the Indian entry for an Oscar. SET is in talks with Columbia Tri-Star to release in US and Europe. Cost £3.5 m.
  • New players joined the fold this year to release Asoka. Local distributor EnzoPictures and Martin Myers Miracle Communicationsincreased their prints from 20 to 60 to 100 in UK. Biggest-ever for an Indian release. Sales consultant was Mark Burton of Wonder Films represented the film with Overseas Filmgroup.
  • Top –10 Films in November 2001 – Lagaan was no 6 while two films dealing with serious social themes of rape were no 2 and 5. Asoka came in no 3.
  • Like Indian curry, Indian cinema, stories are set to travel worldwide.

CONCLUSIONS:

  • These markets are growing. Popular culture in music, fashion, food, films. Just as Hollywood has recognised the economic potential of the Indian Market so the Indian Producers and distributors have seen the potential of the Diaspora market as source of huge box office income and cross over audience for their films.
  • UK Producers and Distributors are only just waking up to this potential. We may be too late. But we can lead with stories like Dr Bennerjee
  • Need to form strategic alliances with Film Studios – Yash Raj, Filmistan; TV Channels – MTV Asia, Star TV, Zee TV, Sony Entertainment Television (SET), HBO India; Music Labels- Sony, Yash Raj.

Parminder Vir

3rd December 2001

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