Bollywood Powers Ahead


How and why does India produce as many films as China and US put together?

Cinema in China is booming. In 2010 box-office revenues grew by 64% to just over 10 billion yuan.  |  Image source & courtesy -  economist.com  |  Click for image source.

Cinema in China is booming. In 2010 box-office revenues grew by 64% to just over 10 billion yuan. | Image source & courtesy – economist.com | Click for image source.

Cinema in China is booming (see chart). In 2010 box-office revenues grew by 64% to just over 10 billion yuan. More than 520 films were made—about as many as in America. Only India produces more. (via China’s film industry: Kung fu propaganda | The Economist).

What The Economist does not mention is that India alone produces as many as China and US together. And that Nollywood comes in at No.2 position.


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  1. May 26, 2012 at 11:20 am

    But sir what about the quality? Mere numbers are nothing to be proud of…

    If you’d said “Indian Cinema” instead of Bollywood I would have agreed because there are still some people who are trying to rise above the mediocrity… using “Bollywood” as an umbrella term for Indian cinema is insulting to the rest… Bollywood since 80’s have come to represent everything that is wrong with present day middle class Indian mentality… unoriginal, unintellectual and eager to ape the west (more precisely the US)…

    More than half them are ripped off from other films… earlier they used to copy Hollywood only but now they are even copying from much smaller industries like the Iranians, Koreans and Thais … In the wake of recent popularity of Silat based films I can foresee them copying Indonesian stunts too just like everybody started showing Parkour after Banlieu 13…

    We used to take pride in our tradition of song and dance no matter what others said… but even that is copied now, in most cases…

    Chinese films are mentioned respectably by the western media nowadays because they have been able to deliver quality and also break the Kung Fu stereotypes of the past in the last couple of decades… Even the their martial arts is at least something native while Bollywood apes biker gangs of the west with incompetent visual effects…

    Should we only “power ahead” merely in terms of number of films produced no matter how…?

  2. May 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Chinese films are mentioned respectably by the western media nowadays because they have been able to deliver quality and also break the Kung Fu stereotypes of the past in the last couple of decades

    This segment of the comment is the key to your ‘disillusionment’ with Bollywood. But don’t worry.

    Bollywood’s self-loathing greatly exceeds yours.

    Are Chinese films better as they are ‘mentioned respectably by the western media nowadays’? Is disapproval by Western media the reason why Bollywood is no good? Is Western media the final arbiter of quality?

    Instead of Flying Tigress, Crouching Rhino, or whatever the name of that film is, give me any mediocre Shaw Bros., kung-fu stereotype movie. Much more intelligent. more revealing, better representation of classical China.

    On the other hand, if modern Chinese films and co-productions are representative, we may see the Chinese underworld as the biggest criminal enterprise after the British Empire-Pax Americana. Why has the Buddhist monk suddenly disappeared from Chinese movies? (Read my post).

    After this read your statement about the Indian Middle Class‘present day middle class Indian mentality… unoriginal, unintellectual and eager to ape the west (more precisely the US)…

    “Indian Cinema” instead of Bollywood

    Within India we refer to Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood, Mollywood, etc. To the Rest of The World, Indian film industry is Bollywood. Since, two-thirds of 2ndlook readers are from the Rest of the World, I am using the global term.

    some people who are trying to rise above the mediocrity… using “Bollywood” as an umbrella term for Indian cinema is insulting to the rest

    Usually everywhere, in all industries, endeavor of the few will be better than the Rest.

    Is that not stating the obvious?

    But in the next sentence, you are making out that the Rest (and not the Few) are being insulted.

    I am not getting what you are saying.

    More than half them are ripped off from other films… earlier they used to copy Hollywood only but now they are even copying from much smaller industries like the Iranians, Koreans and Thais … In the wake of recent popularity of Silat based films I can foresee them copying Indonesian stunts too just like everybody started showing Parkour after Banlieu 13…

    In the last 3-4 years I have uncovered many instances where Hollywood has copied Bollywood – which of course Indians have not ‘noticed’.

    Even readers as knowledgeable as you are.

    But then I am not worried about the copying – but ‘about hiding your sources.’ The West has perfected the art of hiding sources. Bollywood has raised bragging about ‘copying; to new heights.

    what about the quality? Mere numbers are nothing. Should we only “power ahead” merely in terms of number of films produced no matter how…?

    If the quality is bad, how come so many people are watching?

    Does quality mean ‘good’ as per ‘superior’ and ‘more-intelligent’ people – like maybe you?

    Last year Bollywood viewers were higher by 1 billion – compared to Hollywood. That was 2.6 billion people who found the quality of Bollywood products good enough to pay for!

    In Peru Bollywood has a huge following. In Russia, they have decided to start cloning Bollywood themes and style to cater to the Russian demand for Bollywood entertainment. Pakistani media and government feel threatened by Bollywood.

  3. May 26, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    “Flying Tigress, Crouching Rhino”…
    I was not even talking about it. I was referring to non martial art films like that of Zhang Yimou’s older films… also now you must include Hong Kong cinema since it’s a part of China too… so naturally you must include people like Wong Kar Wai… by simply assuming that I am referring to CTHD you are just buttressing the martial arts stereotype that I was alluding to… I’m sure you know that they do make films on topics other than martial arts…

    Also, couldn’t resist one more nitpicking… CTHD is made by Ang Lee who is from Taiwan, not China & most other films by him are dramatic, non wuxia films…

    “Is Western media the final arbiter of quality?”…
    Sir, I mentioned this only because you posted this blog… If you do not give a damn about the western media why do you have to nitpick on random articles posted by them? As for myself, I decide quality based on how I feel after watching it… and you like it or not I often feel disgusted after watching most Bollywood films (and hence cut down consuming the same over the years)…

    “I have uncovered many instances where Hollywood has copied Bollywood”
    Hollywood copying or remaking from other sources is not unknown… nor is it it the epitome of quality… but plagiarism is definitely not as rampant or epidemic as in Bollywood… & as I have mentioned earlier, their copying has now not limited to Hollywood but has crossed over to other films such as the Iranians, the fellow third world filmmakers… not to mention the Southy remakes…

    “If the quality is bad, how come so many people are watching?”
    Since when does commercial success become equivalent to quality?
    For instance, how come so many people still vote for corrupt or incompetent politicians?
    Should they go unquestioned because they are “popular” in a sense?

    Popular taste (for lack of a better term) does not necessarily define quality… this is not only about India but holds good for everywhere… but even by that standard, Bollywood is touching new lows… Can you HONESTLY find any merit in a film like Houseful or Ghajini just because they made 100 crores? (If you do then we must agree to disagree and stop this discussion right here)

    We can also discuss the rest of the points but I think the main issue here is that you feel an irresistible urge to denounce anything from the west and at the same time defend anything that has to do with India even if something is obviously wrong. You should note that the very Bollywood you are trying to defend is merely an ape of its elder cousin from the West that you detest…

    I appreciate you defending the ancient Indic culture and unearthing historical biases… which is the reason I read you blogs. But trying to defend the undefendable is not helping your cause.

  4. May 26, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    One last point…
    “Last year Bollywood viewers were higher by 1 billion – compared to Hollywood”
    It is India that has 1 billion+ population not US… so more people watching Bollywood is hardly a surprise…

    Also, Satyajit-ET is a known story not a new revelation… I’d read about in in Bengali magazines in the 90s… but you may rejoice at the fact that the Roshans avenged the same by ripping off ET as Koi Mil Gaya…

  5. May 26, 2012 at 10:23 pm
    plagiarism is definitely not as rampant or epidemic as in Bollywood

    I still think you are not getting the point.

    Copyright, patents, are modern Western concepts – and plagiarism springs from that. Bollywood is very open about which film /story /theme they are using to model their production on.

    I see little reason to approve, condemn, , encourage, this.

    Valmiki supposedly wrote the first Ramayana. Now there are about 250 of Ramayanas.

    The history of Rama, the historical character has been dealt with differently by different people. Indians have ensured that this history of Ramam becomes a living document.

    Unlike say the Greeks.

    Their history of the Trojan War is only one. There are about half a dozen Alexander histories. Most of them agree broadly.

    Unlike the Ramayana.

    So, in the Indian tradition it is OK for an artist to work on an preexisting story, embellish it, add to it, change it, etc. The moral baggage that you are attaching to Indian artistic traditions is based on a Western narrative.

    For technical and legal reasons I may not support ‘plagiarism’ – but on moral grounds, plagiarism, patents, copyrights is less than hogwash.

    copying has now not limited to Hollywood but has crossed over to other films such as the Iranians, the fellow third world filmmakers… not to mention the Southy remakes…

    Now you are surfing not on any glorious ocean wave – but the sewage of racism.

    You are implying that only Western films are worth copying. Iran’s artistic output is non-inspirational. You are suggesting that we can copy only from ‘superior’ cultures. As for Southy Remakes? God Forbid!

    Are you being Casteist, Racist, Class-conscious .. what is it.

    Is artistic output only a monopoly of all those ‘superior’ cultures and traditions that you – and your cohorts approve of?

    Popular taste (for lack of a better term) does not necessarily define quality… this is not only about India but holds good for everywhere…

    I am good enough with the definition of Quality is meeting 100% of customer requirements. I refuse to accept you – or anyone else as an arbiter of quality. The Consumer is the Only arbiter – and he pays for Quality that meets his requirement.

    Take your ‘superior’ judgement – and …

    For instance, how come so many people still vote for corrupt or incompetent politicians?
    Should they go unquestioned because they are “popular” in a sense?

    This a good intellectual puzzle for you to figure out. Figure that out – and you will learn how to decipher propaganda.

    If you are willing to swallow that – hook, line and sinker … you will pay a price. In more ways than you can imagine.

    If you do not give a damn about the western media why do you have to nitpick on random articles posted by them

    Since Western media output is clearly the highest in the world, it influences, corrupts, educates, informs, more than any other media school. Therefore it also needs greater analysis than others.

    However, I would certainly like you to point out if on any 2ndlook posts, (out of more than 1000 posts) which is equal to nearly 5000 A4 pages of material, with nearly 4000 comments, if any where an equation of Western approval is equal to seal of approval is implied.

    I shall of course remove that offending piece of logic!

    you must include Hong Kong cinema since it’s a part of China too. CTHD is made by Ang Lee who is from Taiwan, not China

    It is clear that you have not read my earlier posts. Please do. In Chinese film industry, I am including the entire Chinese Language output. If I am talking about Shaw Bros as Chinese Film Industry, it includes Hong Kong too.

    We can also discuss the rest of the points but I think the main issue here is that you feel an irresistible urge to denounce anything from the west and at the same time defend anything that has to do with India even if something is obviously wrong.

    I suggest that we limit ourselves to the subject hand.

    You can of course go to the about page and write a balanced (or unbalanced if you so prefer) critique of 2ndlook’s 5000 pages of writing.

  6. May 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

    “Now you are surfing not on any glorious ocean wave – but the sewage of racism.”

    I am just amazed the way you arrived at this conclusion… I think we have reached an impasse here…any sane person would not infer the same from what I have written unless devoid of any counter point or simply blinded by hatred… by repeatedly showing your paranoia towards the west you are only indicating their superiority not me… Besides you are selectively not responding to certain points that I have raised including your stereotypical assumptions regarding Chinese cinema…

    I mentioned Iran because it is a much smaller industry devoid of freedom and fiances not because of their race… (number is what you are boasting of about Bollywood sin’t it?)

    “Southy Remakes? God Forbid!”
    It is also an obvious truth whether you like it or not… they are not copying any quality movies made by the Tamils or Malayalam industry… only the absolute trash…

    “I refuse to accept you – or anyone else as an arbiter of quality.”
    By the same logic why must I accept your sermon and be happy with the trash being dished out? People mostly watch these because they have no alternative or exposure… situation is slightly changing now… it will take some time, probably one more generation but you favorite brand of Bollywood is dying out…

    “100% customer satisfaction”

    100% satisfaction derived from deprived and unexposed masses doesn’t mean a thing…

    What is worse is you are judging an art-form purely on the basis of sales figures… Is this what Bharat Tantra all about?

    “This a good intellectual puzzle for you to figure out. Figure that out – and you will learn how to decipher propaganda.”

    Pointless gimmick hinting at messianic powers on your part which will not cut the ice with anyone… please make some real points rather than hinting at conspiracy theories everywhere…

    I will pay the price? I think the entire nation is already paying the price for this line of thought you are endorsing… Most of your points are mere rhetoric defending a losing cause which very disappointing from a person who I thought to be a real intellectual…

    This is my last comment and last visit to your blog… Hope you have a 2nd look at yourself very soon…

  7. x
    May 30, 2012 at 2:29 am

    >>>”How and why does India produce as many films as China and US put together?”

    Who is producing these movies?
    Those with black money or the underworld or those who want to influence public opinion for selfish interest!

    Every movie carries a message. mostly depreciating Bharat or surreptitiously introducing western elements into societal discourse

    Thats why we hav large no of movies. and its a cause for concern.

  8. Nobody
    June 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Bollywood may produce more movies and get more eyeballs, but it is certainly not promoting India’s soft-power – which is exactly what West and China do. In fact Bollywood actively promotes Urduization and Westernization – if you oppose this you will be treated like $#!7.

  9. June 9, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Who is producing these movies?
    Those with black money or the underworld or those who want to influence public opinion for selfish interest!

    Interesting. Now that you point out, Hollywood had serious links with the mafia and underworld till about 40 years ago.

    Every movie carries a message. mostly depreciating Bharat or surreptitiously introducing western elements into societal discourse

    Thats why we hav large no of movies. and its a cause for concern.

    Like Marshal McLuhan said, sometimes medium is the message.

    With a hyper-active Desert Bloc media, we would be sitting ducks.

    What you are proposing is that we retreat – and not confrontation.

    Instead, why dont you create content with Indian elements that will grip the imagination. These days with self-publishing tools, you don’t even need a publisher.

    Maybe less sniping and more doing will answer your valid concerns.

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