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Has Technology Finally Disrupted Bollywood?

Last fortnight Brahmastra exploded at the box office, earning close to 300 Crores after a spate of flops that seem to threaten Bollywood existence

Lage Raho Phalke Dada

The Lumiere brothers came to Bombay for the first time on July 7th, 1896

The French duo made short films, manufactured photography equipment and produced motion pictures. They screened their first-ever movie in 1895. 

A year later, they were at the Watson Hotel in Mumbai. They showcased six films, with tickets priced at Re.1, marking the ‘Miracle of the century’.

The first films screened in India

At the same time, Dhundiraj Phalke was trying to save his struggling photography studio. Hit by the myth that photographs sucked the person’s soul and killed them slowly, he began to shift to magic. Moving through printing and painting, he eventually saw a movie on animals.

The experience left him amazed, in disbelief 

In 1910, he would go on to watch the screening of The Life of Christ (1910), a silent movie that ignited in him the desire to bring India to the world of cinemas, making him go to London in 1912 to learn the craft from British pioneer Cecil Hepworth, one of the founders of the British film industry.

Heavily studying their work, “Dadasaheb” Phalke would end up birthing Indian cinema. Born in Bombay, Bombay and Hollywood would eventually create a portmanteau.

Indian cinema took off in 1913 when Phalke blended elements from Sanskrit epics to make his first feature film. Raja Harishchandra, a silent film in Marathi which would go on to be one of the 23 films he produced until 1918. 

Phalke inspired many who soon started making films or working in movie production. 

By the 1930s, 200 movies per year were produced in India. Audiences opted for movie viewings as the most favourite and light-on-the-pocket pastime, accessible for as cheap as an anna (4 paise).

The first Indian film with sound would be “Alam Ara”, which premiered in 1931. 

Six years later, in 1937, Kisan Kanya became the first Indian colour movie created utilising the Cinecolor technique, which Ardeshir Irani had purchased from an American firm.

Claiming the first commercial success was Kismet (1943), the blockbuster movie which became the first to hit 1 crore in box office collections, running uninterrupted for an incredible 192 weeks. 

Independence in 1947 impacted Indian cinema with sentiments of nationalism flourishing amongst the audience. During this time, the film industry experienced unprecedented growth. 

Commercial cinema was mushrooming, and some of the most popular commercial films in the 1950s and ’60s were Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Pyaasa (1957), Mother India (1957), Kaagaz  Ke Phool (1959) and Mughal-e-Azam (1960). 

Bollywood had taken spread its wings, combining the technology of the west, the culture of India and the business acumen of Bombay

It would continue to follow that path for decades

Ye Blockbuster Mujhe De De Thakur

The 1960s saw a little bit of everything: romance, drama, realism, and musicals.

All of these happened while probing themes of life. Indian cinema entered its ‘Golden Age’ as it gave birth to several icons during this period. 

Initiation of the National Film Awards, the establishment of Film Finance Corporations, the National Film Archives of India, and the Film and Television Institute were some notable initiatives that contributed to the industry’s steady growth.

Inspired by socio-political developments and cinematic shifts in both the U.S. and Europe, the 1960s saw the birth of India’s New Wave, founded by directors such as Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak, and Satyajit Ray. They preferred using lights and shadows from various angles to dramatise certain story sections.

Technology had a huge role in Bollywood’s success from the get-go. Its adoption would help create iconic experiences for the everyday cinema goer.

The ability to leverage technology to produce, distribute and sell movies made it easy for anybody to see a film. Truly mass-scale technology-driven adoption.

Credit: Nemai Ghosh. In Calcutta, shooting “The Middleman.” 1975. Ray behind the camera in the trunk of the car and assistant director Suhashini Mulay in the foreground

But the go-go years of the 60s weren’t to be. 

In the 1970s, cinema was stagnant, dominated by musical romance followed by crime and action films with new superstars making their debut or getting their first breakthrough film. Amitabh Bachchan broke through as the ‘young angry man’ with Deewar.

The name “Bollywood” was also coined during the same period when the conventions of commercial Hindi films were defined, including big hits like Sholay (1975). It wasn’t easy to create the experience. Most films were shot in 35mm, which had smaller frames. Larger epics and blockbusters were better suited for 70mm, which was a larger frame. 

Sholay was eventually shot in 35mm and converted into 70 mm format with Stereophonic Sound in London. The movie would gross 15 Crore at the Box office.

India couldn’t even process films like these. 

Entrepreneurs like Manmohan Shetty would start high-tech film processing labs. His company Adlabs would help bring India the ability to process films in 1978.

By the time the 1980s came around, India had its very first graphic facility. Prasad Studios founded the Prasad EFX, which invented and used the first film scanners and recorders.

With the introduction of computer graphics, the first Indian film made using technology in the early 80s was ‘Gentleman’. 

By 1983, the Bombay film industry was generating an estimated annual revenue of ₹700 crores, riding on commercially successful hits, grossing 4-5Cr on average. 

The first 3D film was introduced in Indian cinemas with the film ‘Chhota Chetan’ in 1984, which earned around 60Crore and won the President’s Gold Medal.

By 1986, India’s annual film output had increased from 741 films produced annually to 833 films, making India the world’s largest film producer. 

Economic Udaan

With the 90s came economic liberalisation, and its effect on societal structures. 

1991 brought international television into the country, with Star TV and CNN. Hollywood films were released in India simultaneously with a worldwide release. There was a huge expansion of cable TV in Hindi.

Creating content tailored for NRIs also became a priority. This meant big stars, exotic romances, wealthy lifestyles, and destination locations. 

However, after the traditional film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994) became a ₹100+ crore hit overseas, this approach evolved to “Indian values set in a modern style.” Here, global standards and styles are used while contextualising and Indianising. 

The legitimisation of “Bollywood” happened in the “New Bollywood” era. 

This meant a family-centric spotlight on romantic musicals and blockbusters. A hugely successful example is Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), the highest-grossing Bollywood film of the year with soundtracks that remain popular.  

Perhaps a more subtle point: film, as an instrument of compelling narration, helped Indians contextualise themselves on the global stage. 

The concept of what it means to be “Indian” and who gets to define that was under question as “hip”, “young” and “foreign” brands entered the market, such as those introduced by Manish Malhotra. 

Shah Rukh Khan came into the picture, playing a grounded Indian. He was also suave and modern in Dil to Pagal Hai (1997) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). This lent “Indian-ness” a more flexible identity. 

The heroine evolved as a strong character, living on her terms, such as Meenakshi Sheshadri in Damini, 1993.

The 90s also brought a slight change in the “hero”: from Amitabh Bacchan in the 70s and 80s as the “angry young man” to Shah Rukh, Aamir, and Salman Khans as “lover boys”, dancing in faraway lands. 

Along with the hero’s change, actors became more than simply actors.

Aamir Khan in particular, extended his acting role to encompass enabling, collaborating and producing aspects of the industry. He began to take away an upfront fee and 33% of profits on his films. 

The Khans promised and usually delivered quality mainstream entertainment such as Shah Rukh’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Aamir’s Ishq (1997), and Salman’s Hum Aapke Hai Kaun (1994). 

In 1998, policy-level changes with “industry status” being granted to films by the National Democratic Alliance liberalised the industry. Now, it was eligible for credit + infrastructural support, tax incentives, and import-export regulation relaxation.

Thus, the opening up of India allowed capital and infrastructure to travel freely across the border. The professionalisation of Bollywood also reduced its murkier side. Various unproven but reasonably believed stories of gangster financing were rampant in the early 90s. 

Production houses were professionalised: developing the “studio” model. This meant strong content, strict timelines and budgets, contractual agreements with stakeholders, focusing on medium and large-scale budget movies, and building a vast distribution network nationally and internationally.

By the late 90s, rickety and uncomfortable single-screen theatres were being replaced by modern, plush multiplexes mushrooming. 

This brought people back to the theatres, despite the availability of VCRs, allowing at-home viewing. 

Marketing around the film industry was buzzing: print flyers, signage, press appearances, pre-release campaigns, etc. The limit on ticket rates was abolished. 

Satellite TV and cinema developed a synergy, with films being directly released on the former when they were considered inappropriate for the latter.

With cable and satellite television, Indian consumers could access globally acclaimed media, raising the bar for film experiences. 

Parallel cinema developed: “art” films by independent contributors that received critical acclaim for expelling real-world problems and destroying the urban spectacle. A key example is the emergence of Mumbai Noir films, where the underworld rackets are rendered on screen. These films are progressive in production, scale, and/or subject. 

But despite the explosive growth in cinema, constraints bound filmmaking in the 90s that we no longer face today. 

Songs were recorded in a single take. Background scores had to be manually synced with visuals. Stuntmen had actually to risk their lives for action shots.

The process of making movies had become a lot more professional. Actors had begun to scale and were being professionally managed. Production houses went from film family businesses to being run by outsider professionals.

They were beginning to look very close to home in how they shaped up

Movie Aise Hi Banegi Dobara

The process of making a movie is intricate. 

Development, pre-production, production, post-production, release and monetisation are the five components of movie production. The most challenging aspect of each step is working with numerous stakeholders. 

This is very similar to how a startup works, with both creating an entirely new product and business from scratch. 

The screenplay, dialogue, and scenario development are all covered in the development phase. Compare this with a startup that is developing a prototype for an idea. The casting stage is crucial for a film since it determines the actors depending on the plot, directly impacting the overall budget. 

Pre-production is the following stage: venues are scouted, shot permits are obtained, and equipment is purchased or leased. Once more, we can compare it to a startup, where the core staff is assembled, and the processes are established. 

The execution phase, often known as the production phase, is the third stage. This section is where the entire movie is shot. Marketing and distribution are also planned during this stage. Once more, this is reminiscent of a company’s journey, where the product and the Go-To-Market plan are discussed and established. 

The fourth phase is the post-production phase. Once the shoot is finished, the movie goes for editing and dubbing. This is very similar to how a product goes through testing and stress testing.

Finally, onto monetization. Monetisation does matter; after all, someone has funded the project like Angel/VC/PEs fund the startups.

The final phase deals with the adoption of the product and monetisation for a startup. The movie also goes through a similar phase. 

The marketing and distribution come into the scene once the movie is ready. The distribution team takes care of reaching out to exhibitors to discuss the revenue-sharing terms, and the marketing team focuses on creating the buzz.

In 2002, the most expensive and expansive movie was Devdas. Sanjay Bhansali and Co took almost 5 years to create the movie, based on a book in 1917. That is where the entire process starts and is called the development stage.

The creators then finalised the actors, story and dialogues as a part of the pre-production stage. Considering the film was set heavy, they had finalised the studio as well.

The hardest part would have been the execution phase. The creators spent close to 3 years completing the movie. This is not the norm but an exception. This is similar to certain startups like CleverTap, which took almost 30 months before the first product was launched.

Devdas used influencers and PR to generate a buzz before the release. No wonder they could generate more than Rs. 168 crores at the box office.

The distribution strategy serves as yet another illustration of how movies and startups are comparable. We’ve heard that movies are cast with actors with mass appeal, similar to how startups employ influencers to launch their products.

In a way, in any startup, usually, the product is designed and launched in 9-12 months; similarly, the movies are also produced and released in a similar time frame. 

The creative burst of movie production exploded in the 2000s.

Dil Chahta Hai Multiplex

India had begun to live up to its potential, growing at unprecedented 8%

Films are a reflection of the times, and Bollywood followed. By the 2000s, Bollywood films had developed a new way of storytelling. Many films from the 2000s centred on the lives of Indians who resided in nations such as the United States, Canada, and England. 

Films such as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge and Dil Toh Paagal Hai were shot in western countries, which appealed to Indian immigrants because they could relate to the surroundings. Still, it also appealed to Indians living in India because many Indians had a fascination with the West at the time and wanted to immigrate abroad. 

Following the success of these films, producers recognised that Indian audiences were content to watch classic Indian movies rather than becoming fascinated with Hollywood. 

Two things changed due to the new approach: how to finance films with foreign shots? Is it possible to improve the cinema experience? 

Until the 1990s, private investors were the norm for film finance. A group of 15-20 businesses would put money.

However, with the demand for more significant budgets and the possibility of profit, the new millennium brought finance from institutions such as banks at considerably lower rates and corporations on a revenue-sharing basis. This is comparable to startup funding because investors are willing to take on more risk in exchange for more significant returns. 

With rising budgets, filmmakers evolved and used technology to create a one-of-a-kind family cinema experience. 

Around the same time, thanks to VCRs and video libraries, Indians began to view more Hollywood films. 

Hollywood introduced consumers to a greater level of cinematic excellence and technological innovation. Hollywood films, action, and special effects were out of this world, raising the bar for Bollywood. 

But there were not enough cinema halls equipped to provide these experiences.

In the late 90s, film theatres were not places to be visited with the family. Halls were dingy, worn and ill-ventilated buildings, with uncomfortable seating, unclean, uncarpeted flooring, unhygienic food and toilets.

The average consumer was waiting for an alternative (to single screens), a more hygienic setting, better sound and viewing quality, and an overall upgraded experience. This was when the necessity for multiplexes with a large screen and a good sound system became apparent. 

Government policies were also beneficial. The government allowed 100% foreign direct investment in the exhibition business; certain states streamlined the entertainment tax structure, and as a result, the ticket pricing cap was removed. 

This was a much-needed move for a capital-intensive industry like movie theatres. Single screens started to make way for multiplexes. 

PVR launched the first multiplex in Saket, New Delhi, in 1997. Ajay Bijli, another entrepreneur like Manohar Shetty, pioneered the multiplex revolution. Converting his family’s dilapidated single-screen cinema, it bet big on Indians flocking theatres. INOX launched a few multiplexes in 2002.

This was a real turnaround for the kind of cinema creators wanted to make and what consumers wanted to see. 

The outcome was unmistakable. The number of film releases proliferated. From an average of 150-170 releases a year, the industry started to procure more than 250 movies a year.

The revenue growth has been in line with the number of releases. PVR exhibited more than 25% year-over-year for nearly 12 years since 2000, with a similar growth rate for INOX.

Leaving the days of dubious underworld funding behind, the Hindi film industry was being corporatised.

Movies ka Guru

Following the tremendous multiplex boom, studios saw an opportunity to establish themselves. 

To manage the production and distribution aspects of the value chain, studios such as Sony Pictures, UTV, Viacom 18, and Reliance Motion Pictures mushroomed. 

In 2006, Sony Pictures was the first Hollywood studio to enter Indian film production when multiplexes transformed movie-going culture and allowed a broader range of films to be distributed. 

The dynamics were changing at the same time.

It wasn’t only about formulaic movies anymore. India evolved into a rapidly changing market where great tales were being told, new genres were being formed, and new audiences were being discovered. 

Celebrities reinvented themselves. Amitabh Bachchan began to take on significant roles and scored hits like Black (2005). 

Aamir Khan – enabler, collaborator, producer, and not simply actor – promised outstanding mainstream entertainment and fulfilled on most counts with Rang De Basanti (2006) and Taare Zameen Par (2007). 

Following the enormous success of Hera Pheri (2001), the comedy genre gained a new star in the form of Akshay Kumar. Shah Rukh did some of his most loved films – Kal Ho Na Ho (2003), Swades (2004), Chak De India (2007). 

Directors began to gain attention. 

Raju Hirani established himself as a significant director with the release of Munnabhai MBBS (2003) and Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006). With their releases, new-age directors like Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee were coming out and gaining attention. 

Along with these advancements, there was an evolution on other fronts. Grey regions in evil roles became increasingly acceptable, with lead performers such as Saif Ali Khan in Omkara and Shah Rukh Khan in Don playing antagonists in 2006.

Then there was also Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

Bollywood began influencing films worldwide, including Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, which won four Golden Globes and eight Academy Awards and helped put India on the map. 

That wasn’t everything

Another transition occurred in Bollywood cinema, with many films focusing on social themes in India. Bollywood films mirrored their interests and altered their morals and views as more Indians became socially aware and informed of the country’s challenges. 

Filmmakers and producers discovered that Bollywood films could educate and raise awareness in addition to offering amusement. This was pretty clear. 

Dharma Productions, known for its family-friendly films, took a risk by producing The Lunchbox and My Name is Khan. 

But as these movies were released, how were they making money?

Jab We Met Startups

The movie value chain is no less complicated than the global supply chains of top manufacturing brands that produce and distribute goods worldwide. 

Stakeholders at each stage have a role to play and garner a share of the profit pool. 

Production starts with deciding on the script, casting the actors and crew, and selecting props and venues for filming. This is followed by the actual shooting of the film and editing to create a movie. 

All the costs so far – payment to the cast and crew, props, venues and permissions – are borne by the producer, akin to an investor in the film. The producer takes the financial risk of failure. 

This is precisely how a VC investment in a startup operates. 

The producer can finally earn a return on the investment once the movie is ready to be released. Like startups, the product must be taken from the factory floor (movie sets) and shipped to the masses (theatres, TV screens, mobile phones). 

Enter the distributor. 

While some producers (Yashraj films and Dharma productions) take it upon themselves to distribute the movie, others rely on distributors. Now, it might be simplistic to think that the producer can simply sell off the movie to the distributor and sit back with the cash. 

The more popular arrangement is profit sharing. The proceeds from the ticket sales are divided between the producer and the distributor in a pre-defined ratio. 

Now, neither can do business without the other. Distributors usually only pay upfront for movies involving A-list actors, and producers often reimburse them for losses. 

For example,  Salman Khan 2017 starrer Tublelight paid distributors Rs. 55 crore to make up for losses incurred. Content-driven, off-beat films involving new actors, are mostly on a profit share agreement. 

In addition to selling the film for distribution, producers also sell satellite (to telecast on TV), streaming and music rights, plus some merchandise. The producers are usually at their discretion to give out these rights where and when appropriate. 

The value chain continues downstream as the distributor sells the film for release to sub-distributors until it reaches theatre owners who earn money from ticket sales. When sufficient movie tickets aren’t sold, everyone in the chain makes a loss. 

Producers bear the costs irrespective of whether the film hits the screens. Off late, a considerable part of this cost is the actor fees.  

A-list actors earn a fixed income plus 55-60% of the profits. Even when the movie fares poorly in theatrical collections, these actors tend to draw sums of money on non-theatrical platforms. 

Aamir Khan’s Lal Singh Chadda earned Rs. 70 – 80 crore revenues at the theatres, falling much short of the Rs.200 – 250 crore budget. However, table profits (revenue from satellite, streaming rights) have helped the procedures recover costs.  

Recently, these costs have weighed heavily on producers, especially since most recent films have seen losses amounting to 40-50% of the cost of production. The pain is often compounded by high marketing and promotion costs. 

Producers make big investment bets upfront and cast the big stars or newbies with family legacies hoping to make it big on one revenue stream on another. 

Unfortunately, even after high costs, 50% of films don’t see the inside of a theatre. Research shows that a staggering 95% results in losses for the producer of those that finally reach the box office.  

If the film makes it big, they get to see cash flowing in from multiple channels. If not, then are left scrambling to barely break even or sell off stakes (or rights in this case) wherever possible. 

VCs might find this model eerily familiar. The big hits tend to make all the returns. Certain production houses like Dharma or Yash Raj are high-performing VCs with a bag of “unicorn” hits. But they also have a string of flops like Goree Tera Pyaar Mein, Shandaar or We Are Family.

The first decade of the 21st century was remarkable for Bollywood, and it was on its way to taking off and dominating the world, but there was a twist in store.

Bollywood’s unabated growth had grown into hubris

Bollywood ka Kal Ho Na Ho

The uncertain economics in Bollywood hinges on changing film tastes. 

Film-makers are embracing diverse genres, moving away from influential superstars and taking to streaming services. 

The 2010s saw the creation of large-scale epics like Padmavat (2018), journeys like Zindagi na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Piku (2017), powerful offbeat themes like Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) and Gully Boy (2019) 

The Indian Film festival in Stuttgart, Germany,  earlier called Bollywood and Beyond, was renamed to reflect a departure from mainstream Hindi movies. Thanks to streaming services, filmmakers also catered to an audience well-educated in international films. 

Mainstream Bollywood didn’t adopt the explosion of OTT. Perhaps due to the heft or the hubris of prominent actors, they refused to work with OTT platforms to release. The minting of money in theatres, huge fees and prominent personalities, OTTs struggled to get subscribers or blockbusters.

In 2020, that all changed and nuked the cinema business model.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused thousands of movie theatres to shut down and productions to be shelved or postponed, catalysing the works’ changes. The entire value chain suffered, with big production houses bearing losses of several hundred crores. 

But the show had to go on. 

While cinema halls were deserted, film producers turned to OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon. About 45 OTT services exist in India, thanks to digital connectivity and high smartphone penetration. 

Both rural and urban populations have increasingly turned to these platforms, making them the ‘next big screen.’ These services also provide an equal playground for filmmakers who don’t have big budgets or superstars but thrive on engaging scripts and content. 

Suddenly, stories and content began to surface. YouTube’s first channels like TVF started moving to Amazon Prime and Netflix, resulting in the creation of mini-celebrities like Jitendra Kumar. Shows like Paatal, Scam 1992, Kota Factory and Sacred Games all blew up. Movies also began to be released.

The disruption by OTTs changed the entire process for Bollywood. The significant capital needed to start was no longer valid. Nimbler “startups” with some money could beat large production house-funded companies. 

Access to well-oiled distribution channels and big marketing budgets is no longer necessary to launch a film. On the revenue front, the lack of theatre collections takes away the economies of scale that might justify significant investments in the first place. 

The OTT audience can choose from a plethora of content using a single subscription.  

Bollywood felt diminished in the sense of A-list stars and big-ticket releases. Fridays were now almost dreaded, with releases such as Bachchan Pandey, Heropanti 2, and Samrat Prithviraj crashing at the box office. 

Now, one could dismiss this as a dark patch for cinema in general, but the rise of southern cinema (so far restricted to a few states) disproves this hypothesis. Post-COVID, people were going back to the theatres, but not for Bollywood. 

The Rs. 200 – 450 crore box office collections of films such as Pushpa, KGF and RRR are evidence of the trend. Dubbed movies, once rejected by the upmarket audience, were finding acceptance.  

A South Indian film can become a pan-India film when accessible in multiple languages. While the streaming platforms gave them a level playing ground, they have managed to remove the insulation that Hindi cinema once enjoyed. 

Interestingly, the reverse is not happening. Hindi is not penetrating the south with the same velocity. 

On the famous Omaxe survey, only three Hindi film heroines managed to find a spot on the top ten most popular list. 

It was worse for male heroes, with Akshay Kumar gaining a lonely fifth spot in the top ten. 

The critics feel Bollywood superstars are busy forming personal brands through social media, tabloid features and endorsements. They focus less on the acting while the writers, crew and musicians remain underpaid. 

Caught between films trying to emulate the southern syntax, political narratives and grand visuals, Bollywood seems all over the place. 

Maybe it’s time to up the storytelling and bring back the conviction in good old-fashioned Hindi cinema.

Technology Box Office Le Jaayenge

A seismic shift in how we consume Bollywood films is underway, one that many will have experienced toward the end of this decade. 

Bollywood, for decades, has been at the forefront of technology and innovation. Finally, the big stars and houses got too big and comfortable. They did not see the technological force coming to blow them up.

COVID only accelerated the breakup of the model. Big stars no longer gather the attention solely. Social media and OTT have provided access to multiple smaller stars. High-quality production equipment is available to many people via their phones.

The smartphone and the internet have essentially disrupted the movie star.

Digital streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Prime make it easier to watch Bollywood films at home within weeks rather than months of their cinema releases. 

This has changed the movie business dynamics once again. This trend has put a lot of pressure on the so-called established stars.

Male starts used to negotiate heft deals with the production houses. For example, Salman Khan struck a 50% profit sharing deal with YRF for Sultan. The film grossed more than Rs. 500 cr, but YRF had to share 50% of the net profit. That was Rs. 84 crore.

This is astounding if you see it from the production house’s perspective. The entire was bourne by the production house, and the star took away the cherry.

This is bound to change.

With the advent of streaming and the show of some of the recent star-studded films not working at the box office, the producers must be thinking about why they need to pay such an excessive amount to stars when the star power can’t pull the crowd to the cinema halls.

So far, these stars still command a premium, but if this situation persists, then this will change.

There’s also a plethora of slickly-produced big-budget television content available via these streaming giants featuring and made by many famous Bollywood actors, producers, and directors.

Directors are now focusing on narratives. The rise of social media amplified this. 

We can debate the pros and cons of this. But the question is, does this improve cinema quality? Probably not. But the other question is, does narrative affect the film’s performance? Probably not.

In the end, content is what matters

Bollywood is in deep crisis even if some industry leaders in hubris and disconnect with the ground refuse to see it. People today have countless alternatives for entertainment. They have access to better-quality world cinema where they get originality. 

They feel embarrassed when they see Bollywood’s quality has been dismal compared with films from even poorer countries.

A spate of flops has made the argument of Bollywood’s decline even stronger. But writing it off isn’t wise. It eventually innovates to get the audience’s pulse. 

Brahmastra is an excellent example of how technology has finally given breathing room to Bollywood. A big hit, but almost entirely delivered by VFX technology, it is a testament to how technology has been Bollywood’s most significant enabler to scale. 

The scale at which Bollywood – a mammoth powerhouse of industry – is evolving in response to changes in technology, politics, culture, and society is impressive. 

As the industry enters the third decade of the millennium, it will be fascinating to see the impact of these changes on the content driven by this robust industry and what impact Bollywood will have on India.

Technology is disrupting Bollywood, but as its history tells, it needs to embrace it to win again.

Writing: Abhinav, Pragnya, Parth, Rajiv and Aviral Design: Saumya and Subidit

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1 year ago

What a magical piece, AJVC team!

Atul Bhide
Atul Bhide
1 year ago

Excellent chronological history of Indian cinema. One prominent miss – a unique model of film production – Crowd Funding!   The first ever crowd funded movie – ‘Manthan’ by Shyam Benegal based on Dr. Verghese Kurien and his milk cooperative experiment in Anand, Amul. Vanraj Bhatia’s music immortalize the Amul tune thanks to this film.   Each milk cooperative member had contributed Rs.1/- towards producing this movie, a yet another genius ideation by the Milkman of India, Dr. Kurien.   The best part was Manthan not only achieved its main purpose of creating awareness about cooperative model in dairy across… Read more »

Atul Bhide
Atul Bhide
1 year ago

Excellent chronological history of Indian cinema. One prominent miss – a unique model of film production – Crowd Funding!   The first ever crowd funded movie – ‘Manthan’ by Shyam Benegal based on Dr. Verghese Kurien and his milk cooperative experiment in Anand, Amul. Vanraj Bhatia’s music immortalize the Amul tune thanks to this film.   Each milk cooperative member had contributed Rs.1/- towards producing this movie, a yet another genius ideation by the Milkman of India, Dr. Kurien.   The best part was Manthan not only achieved its main purpose of creating awareness about cooperative model in dairy across… Read more »


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