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Indian films ready for journey beyond diaspora

New Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS) The billion-dollar Indian film industry is reinventing itself to get the maximum out of digital proliferation in the mass media. And the role model is Hollywood.

2007-12-21T10:11:00Z
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New Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS) The billion-dollar Indian film industry is reinventing itself to get the maximum out of digital proliferation in the mass media. And the role model is Hollywood.

It is preparing to go beyond the diaspora audience in the West by making full use of digitised distribution networks, which are gradually replacing traditional methods. Digital distribution has an edge in terms of cost and speed.

Efforts are on to work out a two-edit format for Indian films, especially those from Bollywood that are distributed abroad.

'There is a lot of curiosity about Indian films from the mainstream audience abroad. But the novelty factor wears off very soon. There has to be a mechanism to make Bollywood cinema compatible with the Western audience,' said Navin Shah, CEO, P9 Integrated, a Mumbai-based film marketing giant.

Films will be edited twice - once for the audience in India and then for the 'white market' abroad. For the foreign audience, the duration of Indian films will be cut short. According to Shah, the time period will be reduced from two-and-a-half hours to roughly 90 minutes.

'Indian films are full of song and dance sequences, but the white audience is not used to it. The number of songs and dances will be cut down,' Shah told IANS.

'Alam Ara', the first talkie film in Hindi, reportedly had seven songs and several films that followed it were all musicals. Early productions sometimes featured as many as 40 songs. However, the number of songs and dances, on an average, now is restricted to six.

The industry is even planning to change the nature of promotionals. Bollywood film promos are mostly collages - a jumble of shots and snatches of dialogues, whereas Hollywood promos usually convey the stories in a nutshell.

'The industry will employ people to design promos and media footage like those in Hollywood so that the audience abroad gets an idea what the film is all about,' Shah said.

Another medium that distributors intend to make use of is YouTube.

'It is one of the top 15 popular sites in the world. Indian films can be uploaded on YouTube to build a movie library and viewed by users for free. It will check piracy,' said Marcus Stuart, executive vice-president, Eros International, Britain, a content distribution firm.

Outreach tools in the entertainment media have been morphing for some time. At least 50 top Indian brands are now talking to the global audience. Banks like ICICI and companies like MDH and firms that make tobacco products are using local content for brand promotion abroad.

'This helps small-time filmmakers market their wares to the mainstream audience in the West,' Shah said.

Tourism boards are also promoting Bollywood abroad in a big way. 'I have at least nine foreign tourism boards on my list of clients, who sell Bollywood destinations and also push Indian content in their respective countries. The Singapore tourism board is one of them,' Shah said. NTOs like VisitBritain have unveiled special Bollywood tourism maps this year.

The popularity of Indian film events, featuring Bollywood stars abroad and live telecasts of the same, has also taken Indian mass entertainment beyond the Asian audience in the West.

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