Small markets,big gains

3 Idiots was dubbed in Mandarin and released in 900 screens across China.

Written by PriyankaPereira | Published:January 25, 2012 1:02 am

After exploring North America and UK,Bollywood explores the smaller,non-traditional markets for bigger gains

Last month,filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra announced in an open letter to the media that his film,3 Idiots was dubbed in Mandarin and released in 900 screens across China — a huge achievement for Bollywood,which for long has basked in the laurels of Raj Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan in such markets. The film ran for five weeks in Hong Kong and South Korea,becoming one of the highest- grossing Indian films overseas.

Even though 3 Idiots took the trouble of dubbing in the local language,many other recent Hindi movies have been venturing into non-traditional overseas markets for Bollywood fare with subtitles. Eros,a leading distribution company in Mumbai,signed an agreement with a local Taiwanese distributor in September 2011 for the theatrical release of the 2010 Salman Khan blockbuster Dabangg. Both Shah Rukh Khan movies of 2011 —Ra.One and Don 2 — released in these smaller markets along with subtitles. According to sources,actor Tom Wu who played Akaashi in Ra.One,was cast in order to woo the South-East Asian market. The film earned around Rs 60-70 crore from this market alone.

Soon,Rockstar,Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl,The Dirty Picture,Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara,Ekk Main Aur Ek Tu and Desi Boyz are going to be distributed and screened in Japan,Korea,Taiwan,Myanmar,China,Germany,France,South Africa and Latin America. “This goes on to show that Indian film now speaks a global language,” says Sunil Lulla,CEO,Eros International. Encouraged by this trend,producers are now re-releasing older films in these markets. Heyy Babyy,Knockout and Guzaarish are among a host of films that will release in these markets.

More than a decade ago,Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar targeted the Indian diaspora in North America,the UK and the Middle East with their mushy movies. Now,other Bollywood filmmakers too are seeking a wider audience. “With economic development,Indians are now going to places such as China,Japan,South East Asia,Latin America and Eastern Europe for work. And culture travels wherever the races go,” says Vikram Malhotra,COO,Viacom 18. This has resulted in the emergence of non-traditional Bollywood markets. “This is a sign of the progress filmmaking has made in India,” says Malhotra.

The maturity of subjects and treatment in the last few years have been instrumental in opening up of these markets,feel producers. For instance,Viacom’s next — Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani,which opens in India on March 9,is the story of a pregnant girl in search of her husband. “This could be true in any part of the world. Also films like Gangs of Wasseypur and Shaitan have universal stories,” says Malhotra.

Another impetus to this market has come in the form of the film mart at the annual Mumbai Film Festival. “Our focus is on inviting buyers from non-traditional markets for Indian cinema like China,Korea,Japan,Europe and Latin America. This has evoked a tremendous response from the leading Indian production companies like Eros International,Yash Raj Films and Balaji Motion Pictures,” says Rashmi Lamba,manager,Mumbai Film Mart.

Big ticket stars may have played key roles in ensuring international releases earlier,but thanks to the film mart,independent filmmakers enjoy an equal footing in promoting their films in emerging markets. Smaller films like Royal Treasure evoked interest when pitched for funds at the Hong Kong Film Festival while Arjun and Alison caught the eye of France’s Novo Films. Mangesh Hadavale’s Dekh Indian Circus,which won the Audience Choice Award at the Busan Festival,will be shown in Korea soon.

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