Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Bollywood & Hollywood - A Fledgling Love Story

Interesting informative piece from the UK's Guardian, on Bollywood's aggressive global moves, with Hollywood at its side, thanks to the bottomless pockets of Indian billionaire, Anil Ambani, brother of Mukesh Ambani whom I profiled briefly on this blog, specifically concerning his $2 Billion pad (the most expensive home ever built to date) in Mumbai. You can re-read that blog entry HERE.

Anil Ambani and his Reliance Big Entertainment, the media arm of his Indian conglomerate, announced that the company would be funding and producing 10 Hollywood movies for a billion dollars! That's about $100 Million per movie!! Wow! The man isn't messing around is he?

Deals have apparently already been signed with the production companies of Hollywood stars like Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt.

The goal?

"The aim is to look at 30 film scripts under this deal over the next two years, out of which 10 will go to screen. This is just the beginning of our relationship with Hollywood... We are looking to make big-budget, live-action movies in Hollywood that make money for us... That will mean a different way of making movies... We want to make Hollywood movies that have a global audience. We are not inserting Bollywood into Hollywood just yet..." said, Rajesh Sawhney, the president of Reliance.

The move also opens the door for Indian directors to work in Hollywood!

I'm wondering if there's a lesson that can be learned here... I love the aggressiveness of this by Ambani. Granted he's obviously got the money, but some of "us" aren't doing too badly either. Ownership and control are key in this business, and by putting up the money to fund the agreement (as opposed to relying on the bank accounts of others - see Robert Johnson and Our Stories Films Inc), Ambani and his company will be able to retain ownership, control and thus influence, all things that one could say we are lacking within the realm of black cinema.

You can read the entire piece HERE, where you'll also learn about the 2 Will Smith flicks that will be funded and produced by another Indian media company!

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  1. Janice said...

    Can Bollywood make a global blockbuster? It would require at least half of the box office to come from america. That being said even our pg-13 movies are full of sex. I don't see how they will reconcile this aspect of global boxoffice and their culture.

  2. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...


    Yep, ownership and control is the key but, how many of 'us' take ownership? Or do so and then pretty much relinquish any real financial/creative control (like Johnson).

    And even if a black multi-millionnaire did step forward, there's still the problem of distribution. Bollywood is huge! Yeah, so is Nollywood, you might say (third largest in the world after the woods Holly- and Bolly-), but you can walk into some cinemas in London's West End and see Bollywood films screening in the same complex as the latest Hollywood offerings. The same can't even be said for many African-American films, never mind Nollywood ones... And then there's the issue of quality, which still remains a huge issue with most Nollywood output.

    *double sigh*

    Mind you, you can catch many a Nollywood film on a Virgin-Atlantic flight (thanks, I'm guessing, to the existence of Virgin Nigeria) so maybe Dicky Branson might lend us a few quid...

  3. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...

    @ janice:

    "Can Bollywood make a global blockbuster? It would require at least half of the box office to come from america."

    You seem to be forgetting that they could probably make back their money from audiences in India alone - and then when you include the Indian sub-continent and the diaspora... And Bollywood has almost gone mainstream in places like the UK (at least in cities like London and Bradford) with a relatively large Indian (and sub-continent) population, so a hybrid Bolly-Holly product would push the envelope that bit further.

    Bollywood has already demonstrated that it doesn't need an American audience for a commercial success.

    And if part of the aim is to open the door for Indian directors, then they already have ways of portraying love and romance that doesn't include sex scenes and which (from what I've heard from Bollywood filmmakers and actors being interviewed), they are becoming more risque(by Indian standards), though not quite as blatant and Hollywood.

  4. Janice said...

    Wendy, I think the gist of the article was they wanted an international blockbuster and that would mean (include) american box office. I just looked at the indian box office for the past week and the number one movie made (in pounds since your uk) 1 million pounds. Thats a lota money but no where near the 24 million pounds the number one american movie made (which was considered a weak showing). With the right movie the american box office can be half a billion dollars (with a billion worldwide).

  5. The Obenson Report said...

    @ Janice - keep in mind that this isn't about making global blockbusters out of Bollywood films. Instead, it's about Indian money (and in essence Bollywood money) infiltrating Hollywood to gain leverage in future collaborations. Their plan is to fund Hollywood blockbusters first, which is why they signed agreements with Hollywood talent. But the intent here is obviously to make money mostly, so we can certainly expect that the long term goal is to eventually create a mutually beneficial financial relationship between themselves and those in Hollywood, which will of course have some peripheral effects. So don't be surprised if American actors start appearing in Bollywood films, and vice-versa; and don't be surprised if Bollywood directors start directing Hollywood films, and vice-versa.

    @ Wendy - We've got to start somewhere... I do think the resources are there to allow for both production and distribution. The real difficulty as I see it is convincing those with the resources of what is possible... as you said, sigh... maybe it's time to revisit the capable tenth film fund :o)

  6. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...

    @ Janice: I thought the gist of the article was Holly-Bolly hybrids. So, what Tambay said in his responce.

    @ Tambay: Yeah, I agree we have to start somewhere, but where? And how are we defining 'we' anyway?

    Bollywood comes from a specific geographical location - India - and can almost be classed as a genre in itself.

    So are we talking 'we' in terms of African-American film? Black-European film? African film? Francaphone African film? West African film? Nollywood? South African film? Pan African?

    Actually I think South Africa standss a good shot at developing a film industry to rival and then overtake Nollywood, in terms of both product quality and wider appeal (and, therefore, commercial success).

    I was recently looking at the programme for a season of African films screening at an event here in London and the majority of them (documentary and drama) were from South Africa.

  7. The Obenson Report said...

    Are you already forgetting the "Capable Tenth" idea? I know it wasn't foolproof, but that's a start... if only others would jump onboard... a big "if" I know... but I think someone with resources has to lead the way in order for the rest to follow, and that means a healthy dose of altruism for a change.

    If I had the kind of money people like Robert Johnson (a billionaire) have, I would be taking a lot more chances... I'd be a lot more aggressive, a trait that seems to be absent in people like him. Profit won't be my sole motivator... it doesn't have to be when you've got so much money already, and losing a bit of it won't exactly hurt your lifestyle... hardly! I think profit will come eventually, but somebody's gotta take the first step.

    I feel like we've all talked about and debated this topic to death; many of us seem to want the same thing (at least I think so), and it's time for some real action... something... anything! I'd like to see a one of "us" regardless of where we fall in the Diaspora, make the kinds of moves that Ambani is making! Doesn't have to be exactly the same kind of deal, but a move that's aggressive, decisive, and of course, meant to generate content for "us" whoever "we" are.

    Since I'm here in the states, I'm thinking mainly of African American cinema, but it doesn't have to be so narrowly defined. And maybe it's OK if each group from the Diaspora exists independently of the other. We don't have to be this singular global operation. And we could even influence and learn from each other - maybe collaborate on projects from time to time.

    I think we here (African Americans) could actually learn something from what the Nollywood folks are doing, for example. It's a different socio-political atmosphere over there altogether, and the product often isn't much to be excited about, but they seem to be much more aggressive than we are over here. Actually, they seem to be much more aggressive than "industry" blacks in any other part of the world. There's a kind of "can-do" attitude that's missing elsewhere. No money to make your film? So what? Instead of chasing other people for money, kowtowing to whatever demands they make of you and/or your project, make do with what you have and create something, and keep creating!

  8. Baby Please said...

    Um, what is Nollywood?

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