What should Hollywood learn from Indian films
Can Bollywood be successful in Germany?
Most Germans associate Bollywood with colorful costumes, sprawling musical elements and lavishly choreographed dances. One of the largest Indian broadcasting groups, Zee TV, now wants to bring Bollywood and other Indian productions to Germany. Zee TV, which claims to have viewers in 165 countries, will launch its new TV channel in Germany on Thursday (July 28, 2016).
The 24-hour program will be available via cable and satellite and is part of the group's international expansion strategy. In January, Subhash Chandra said in an interview with DW: "The content will be specially tailored for the German market and specially prepared for it."
Germany already has a large number of television channels and is seen internationally as a difficult market for foreign media products. Nevertheless, Chandra is convinced that viewers in Germany will use Zee TV. "Our content is cheerful and colorful. And it appeals to viewers of all ages."
The core target group, however, are women between 19 and 59 who should be particularly receptive to the emotional dramas from Bollywood, which offer sophisticated love stories about longing and passion as well as dance and music.
There is often singing and dancing in Indian films
At the moment, Indian films are rarely shown in Germany. The Bollywood boom that the private broadcaster RTL 2 sparked with the regular broadcast of films from India has now subsided.
Germany is considered to be the second largest film market in Europe after the United Kingdom. And Indian film stars like Shah Rukh Khan have a large fan base in Berlin, for example. When Khan came to Berlin for the premiere of his film "Don 2" in 2012, he was welcomed by more than 1000 fans in the freezing cold.
Overall, however, the number of Germans who are interested in Indian films is relatively small. The market for three-hour highly emotional sagas is limited.
Friederike Behrends, the managing director of the new German channel, still believes in the success and told the DPA news agency that so far Germans have only known a very small part of Indian cinema. In fact, it is one of the largest film industries in the world. It has a lot to offer, emphasized Behrends. "That's what we want to show the German audience."
Bollywood vs. Hollywood
The name Bollywood is an imitation of the term Hollywood and refers to the Hindi-speaking film industry based in the west Indian city of Mumbai. In other parts of the country, films are also produced in other languages such as Tamil, Telugu or Kannada.
In total, India delivers around 2000 films every year, more than any other country in the world. The output is almost four times that of Hollywood. However, when it comes to box office revenue, the Indian film industry lags far behind the American one. Sales in US films are five times that of Indian films.
Nevertheless, over the past few years, Bollywood has increasingly tried to follow in the footsteps of the US model, for example with the desired professionalization within the industry. In addition, the Bollywood makers are trying to increase sales - through cinema advertising, merchandising or trading in cable and satellite rights.
At the same time, there is also growing interest on the part of Hollywood studios in entering into partnerships with Indian production companies and making films in India as co-productions. For its part, Bollywood has increasingly concentrated in recent years on expanding its global presence, entering foreign markets and gaining new viewers there.
"A difficult market"
Not without success. The popularity of Indian films is also growing outside of the subcontinent. Indian film stars now also appear at international film festivals.
The foreign sales of Indian films rose by 11.5 percent last year, according to the annual media report there for 2016. However, this plus is mainly due to Indian emigrants who devour everything that comes from their old homeland in their new place of residence. The films too, of course.
Zee wants to bring Bollywood into German living rooms
This is exactly one of the special challenges for Zee TV on the German market. While more than two million Indians live in the USA, the Indian community in Germany is rather small. In 2014 around 80,000 Indians lived here. That alone cannot be enough for the broadcaster. In order to make the project a success, Zee's aim is to win over the German audience as well.
The preferences of German viewers have been examined, says Chandra. "We will offer them interesting content." Germany is a very important market, albeit a difficult one for foreign productions. "If we can do it here, then we can do it anywhere in the world. That is our conviction."
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