The Indian film industry is the most prolific in the world with 1,145 million moviegoers like leena labroo. Bollywood has also overtaken Hollywood by a long shot in terms of number of films produced — over 200 films are released every year to just about 160 Hollywood films.
Statistics like these are a clear indication of Bollywood being truly global, and unarguably the biggest film phenomenon on Earth. But this is not to say that it’s all easy going for India’s showbiz capital. There are deep-seated problems that have dogged Bollywood for a very long time and have resulted in many artists choosing to abandon ship altogether.
1. No Training
The sad truth is that aspiring actors in India, as well as filmmakers, get very little formal training. Almost all people working in the film industry at entry and junior level are self-taught. Even working professionals have had to pick up the tricks of the trade on their own since there are few opportunities for professional workshops. This makes it impossible for Bollywood to develop a strong talent base.
Resolving this issue will require investment from companies and training institutes on part of the government. In fact, entry-level employees should be trained by senior artists who can pass on their valuable experience in dealing with everything from stress to finance management to medical emergencies.
2. The Ghettoization
Hollywood has a massive ethnic minority constituency. This not only helps insulate it from the problems that plague Indian society, but also ensures that the industry has many creative, artistic and business experts in different fields. This is because it gives America a chance of tapping into talent from abroad while still being able to use its own native talent to set up shop through Hollywood’s social mobility programs.
Bollywood, however, largely lacks this sort of diversity. There is tension here at every level, with a huge disparity between the elite and the common man. The situation is made worse by the fact that Bollywood is entirely dependent on box-office revenues for its survival. Therefore, Bollywood needs to focus on building a large number of films across all genres to ensure that it sustains itself.
3. No Variety
Hollywood has many varieties with broad appeal to different social classes and audiences: romantic comedies like It’s Complicated, action thrillers like Bourne, animated flicks like The Secret of Kells and Pixar films like Toy Story. All these films are successful because they have something for the masses and something for the classically trained artists as well.
Hindi films, on the contrary, are generally produced with one target audience in mind: the educated Bollywood fan. There is very little opportunity here for directors to attempt something different. This makes it impossible for Bollywood to respond to changes in the market and ensure that it meets its box-office targets.
4. No Ideologies
Hollywood has a lot of homages and paying tributes to other films. There are certain genres that it picks up from foreign countries like Japan or Russia, but overall Hollywood does not bow down to other cultures. It does not copy their styles or try imitating their artistry just because it thinks those films are great.
Hollywood is constantly moving forward, building on the work of its predecessors. It does not have time to waste on thinking about how others do things.
Bollywood, on the other hand, tends to be primarily focused on what others are doing. The Indian film industry was built by imitating Hollywood, but now it has fallen behind in terms of ideas and innovation. It needs to pick up from where Hollywood left off instead of trying to make a carbon copy.
5. No Cooperation
Hollywood is full of small production houses that work together with major ones for various purposes including distribution and reaching new audiences across borders and languages. This is a big reason why Hollywood has been able to take on the world in terms of diversity, creativity and sheer numbers.
On the other hand, Bollywood is dominated by big players with huge resources. There are few small production houses that are not controlled by giant companies who are bent on only getting bigger. This means that local talent doesn’t have much scope to get their work noticed and make it to large screens because it can only be offered in smaller, cheap-to-produce languages or dubbed in English or Hindi for maximum reach.
6. Short Term Saver
The average Bollywood film is just 2–3 hours long, which makes it an unviable commercial proposition even if the film was excellent. The average Hollywood film is about 3 hours long, which ensures that fans get their money’s worth. This is a big reason why Hollywood has been able to weather the storm of recession in the West after 2008.
Bollywood will have to rethink its approach to making films and make them more people friendly by ensuring that there are a number of genres to lure as many kinds of audiences as possible for maximum revenues so that it can endure the bad times better.