Sunday, April 19, 2009

How come Bollywood is so small ?

Bollywood is world famous. Every Indian is mad about films and its a defining aspect of Indian culture. Indian films are now being known world over. India makes the largest number of movies in the world. Apart from Hindi films, there is a thriving film industry in many Indian languages. This must be a huge industry right?

Wrong. The entire Indian film industry size is just $ 2.2 bn. Just 60% of Infosys. One tenth the size of Reliance. The entire industry. That's it. Read the FICCI KPMG report for all the gory details.

Most films lose money. And for its tiny size, its expected to grow only 9% next year after a flat last year. Sounds like a dog industry.

How come ? Surely there's something wrong. You have one billion crazy Indians all wanting to imitate Shahrukh Khan or Aishwarya Rai. Not to speak of the rest of the world where lots want to learn "Bollywood dancing". Terrific talent in singing, dancing, acting amongst the Indians - just go to any college or company function. Fanatic demand. Great talent supply. And yet a tiny industry.

Why ? I am a self confessed ignoramus on Indian movies - haven't watched one for a few years. That won't stop me from speculating (that's the nice thing about blogging - you can wax eloquently on things you don't have a clue about) !

  • The size is probably understated as the industry is not all above board. But even at 2 or 3 times the stated number, its still a tiny industry.

  • Its highly unprofessional. A lot of financing is by the underworld and professional management just does not exist.

  • Marketing is an unknown function. There's no merchandising at all (how many Lagaan cricket bats have you seen ?)

  • Its not really sold globally. Whatever is taken global is for the expat Indian audience. Actually the films, with their song and dance, does have universal appeal.

  • There's zero market research. Do the producers really understand their customer - what do they want ? What are the market segments - the bhaiyya watches completely different stuff from the aunty.

  • Much of the product is garbage. That's why most films lose money - they are trash and deserve to lose money.

The industry has a larger than life image, but in reality its a mouse. There's a lot of noise, but little to shout about.

Corporate India - get on to the movie industry.

Now that's a thought. Won't you want to work in a company where you see Aishwarya on Monday, Kareena on Tuesday, Priyanka on Wednesday ......