With the success of Slumdog Millionaire and difficult times in the cinema world in India with the multiplex boycott, there are increasing signs of Bollywood looking towards the west for a more diverse income base. Hot on the heels of the news that Ashutosh Gowariker, of Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar fame, will be making Buddha in English, as reported here in Bollyspice, news from the Cannes Film Festival indicates two other moves in that direction.
Both Amitabh Bachchan’s Teen Patti and Akshay Kumar’s Kambakht Ishq are being premiered at the Festival and both include western movie stars. Sir Ben Kingsley’s appearance in Teen Patti is the Anglo-Indian’s first venture into mainstream Bollywood and Akshay Kumar’s film of course stars a host of Americans including Denise Richards, Sylvester Stallone and Brandon Routh, which it’s hoped will help it to appeal — if only for novelty value — to the western movie-buying public.
In addition, there’s news that Kites, the Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori romance will be released in two versions — one with item numbers and a trimmed-down version without for the western market. In particular, this one’s aimed at the South American market where Barbara is a soap-opera queen and Bollywood’s more pronounced acting style fits more neatly with local expectations. Also, with nearly a billion people, the neglected South American market is almost as big as India itself.
With a much lower cost base than the west, which can be relied upon for at least the next twenty years, and a wealth of production talent, if Bollywood production houses can tailor their movies to meet western expectations, they could find themselves reeling in the money.