Mumbai, Jan 9 (IANS) A decrease in the value of the US dollar and the ever growing menace of piracy have forced Indian movie exporters to be cautious about the once lucrative overseas market.
Until recently, Indian film exporters vied with each other to acquire the overseas rights of Bollywood films because the returns were handsome in terms of Indian rupees. But now the prospects of films in the domestic market are looking up.
If a film is a hit, it can now collect at least Rs.500 million ($12.7 million) at the domestic box office, as two recent releases - Shah Rukh Khan's 'Om Shanti Om' and Aamir Khan's 'Taare Zameen Par' - have proved.
At the same time, due to the Indian rupee getting stronger, there is a drop of 10 percent on foreign earnings at present.
According to Nittin Keni, who runs the export firm Nittin Keni Creations Pvt Ltd, and who has bought the overseas rights of the Rajkumar Santoshi-directed 'Halla Bol', due for release next week, the fall in the export earnings will soon have a bearing on Bollywood.
'If nobody has highlighted this aspect of the film trade so far, it is because the corporate houses are now investing huge amounts in films and they are holding both the domestic and overseas rights. When they are not exporting the films themselves, they are getting the prices they demand,' Keni told IANS.
The spirit of Bollywood is high at present, especially in corporate circles, because some of the films released in 2007, and so far this year such as 'Heyy Baby', 'Om Shanti Om', 'Dhamaal', 'Partner', 'Bhool Bhulaiya', 'Namastey London', 'Chak De! India', 'Guru', 'Jab We Met', 'Bheja Fry', 'Welcome', and 'Taare Zameen Par', have had good runs both domestically and internationally.
Keni said corporate houses were not too concerned about the decline in foreign earnings due a to fall in the value of the dollar because they were making up through handsome domestic earnings.
'It is the export firms and individual exporters of films, the few that are left now, who are feeling the pinch of the shortfall,' he said.
Sourin Dutta of the exports division of Pyramid Symira said a number of Bollywood films have fared well in the overseas market recently and so a fall of 10 percent in export earnings might affect exporters.
'But the impact so far is not so much as to cause alarm. We are going to release Rajkumar Santoshi's 'Halla Bol' in the domestic and overseas market simultaneously on January 11,' Dutta told IANS.
Presently, the company is keeping its fingers crossed. 'In fact, we are taking up overseas distribution with this film. But we are confident the film will do good business. Point is, a film should do well uniformly all over to offset fall in revenues from certain pockets,' Dutta said.
Keni, who had earlier looked after the export division of the NFDC (National Film Development Corp) before he turned producer with 'Gadar - Ek Prem Katha', added that if the dollar continued to drop, Bollywood would find itself in an ironical situation.
'The overseas market for Bollywood films is gradually widening, going beyond their traditional strongholds like the US and Britain, but the money they are fetching is gradually decreasing,' he said.
Keni also saw piracy to be another scourge of the export market for Hindi films. He said the source of piracy was in India itself and the market the pirates looked for was Pakistan.
'Even if the source of piracy is either Dubai or Malaysia, pirated DVDs are intended to be sold in Pakistan and from there they are exported all over,' he said.
He said that if Hindi films were legally permitted for release in Pakistan, Bollywood could earn at least 25 percent of its gross earnings from that country alone.
'But the money, the equivalent of a price a film fetches from the Mumbai territory, is now being eaten up by the pirates.' Keni said.