'The global footprint of our movies has really increased'

Written by Sudipta Datta | Updated: Apr 27 2011, 15:45pm hrs
In the past two years, Indian films have been aggressively marketed overseas, and the results are already showing. Last year, We are Family, the remake of Stepmom, may not have done well domestically, but in the UK it was the third-highest grosser, behind Shah Rukh Khans My Name is Khan and Salman Khans Dabangg. Things have changed dramatically for Indian films overseas if you push the right film in the right country, says Amrita Pandey, senior vice-president, international distribution and syndication, UTV Motion Pictures. For UTV, even films like Raajneeti, which is not typically an overseas film did business worth $1.5 million in the US and half a million pounds in the UK. Coupled with this, the world is also discovering Bollywood and markets are opening up in Estonia, Turkey, South Korea, Spain. Though overseas markets contribute only abut 8-10% to the overall

box office, producers and distributors now realise that theres tremendous scope for growth, Pandey tells Sudipta Datta. Excerpts:

Earlier, SRKs films would do well overseas, but not others. Has this changed

Yes, in the past one-two years, we have seen many films doing well overseas, some which are not typical overseas films. Even a film like No One Killed Jessica, which we released in January, did great business overseas. If you push the right film in the right country and get the right screen location, its bound to do well.

Can you give us an example of the research you are putting in before releasing a film

Well, take the example of Dhobi Ghat. We released it in central London where normally Hindi films dont play and it got a great response. Raajneeti, which is not typically an overseas film, did better business than even a film like Azab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, starring Katrina Kaif.

Is Bollywood also opening up to new markets

Yes, we are now showing our films in Estonia, Turkey, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan. Some of these countries are showing Bollywood on national network television or at theatres or on IPTV. In Italy, Rai, the national network, is screening Indian films in weekly, fortnightly prime time slots. In Italy, romantic genres like Jodha Akbar, Kismat Connection and Wake Up Sid did well, in South Korea dramas and love stories. Someone wrote to us from Estonia. The global footprint of our movies has really increased. All the studios are promoting overseas markets.

If all the markets are different, how do you promote the films

We plan innovative promotions. For instance, for Peepli Live, we had Q&A screenings in the UK and New York. Aamir Khan, the producer, gave interviews to the right people, the LA Times, New York Times. Interestingly, Peepli Live did well in Los Angeles and New York. The stars are giving a lot more time to overseas markets. The Cannes festival route, presence of Bollywood stars at major festivals like Berlin or Sundance also helps.

But the overseas contribution to revenues is still small, isnt it

Yes, overseas contributes 8-10% to the overall box office, but that means theres tremendous potential for growth. The mobile/internet space is small now but thats where the growth will come from in future. Thats a new revenue stream that is opening up.

So, Indian films overseas have come a long way from the past when only Karan Johar films would do well...

But his movies helped open up Bollywood to the world. Visit any country, and they know about Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Even now, all of Aishwarya Rais films are big hits. Theres a huge interest in Guzaarish, for example. Nowadays, all types of films are working.