World biz and more as seen from India

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Researching Bollywood

These days a comment like “Bollywood has become big business”, often gets a sarcastic reply. It’s no secret that the art factor in Bollywood has been diminishing over the years. Bollywood is all about the ticket sales these days but it still lacks several characteristics of a typical business industry.

A stark difference that immediately stands out in my mind is that almost all the movie production houses in India are family based businesses (not that there is anything wrong with it. Read: take what you get from your family) as compared to Hollywood, where most of the movie production banners are publicly traded companies. Like any other family run business, lack of professionalism is bound to creep into the business which one may argue leads to sub standard products. As compared to a public company there is no accountability for failures in Bollywood. It’s not evident that production houses actually sit down and analyze why a particular movie failed – was it bad casting, bad direction, or did the story just suck?

At least I am not aware of any research/business organizations that crunch data for Bollywood. Doesn’t Bollywood like to know about upcoming movie trends? Or wouldn’t Bollywood appreciate that someone has historical data which compares the economic/social situations to the movies that people have like. For example, if the country is facing war, heroic war movies are a hit. So if you plan to release a chick flick in that period the chances of its success are nearly zero. This might seem to be a very basic example but it might mean revenue loses that run in millions.

Forget films, this would even benefit Television studios. Think how happy UTV would have been if someone would have told them that family based soaps should be on late night TV and not at 8PM when all the mothers are busy in the kitchen.