Bollywood’s not making a mark globally: Ronnie Screwvala

By Prithwish Ganguly


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New Delhi : Ronnie Screwvala, CEO of India's top production company UTV, feels Bollywood is failing to attract global audience due to its mammoth runtime, technological drawbacks and scripts that lack sensibility.

"Globally we are not making a mark at all," Screwvala told IANS in a telephonic interview from Mumbai. "We are not producing many films which appeal to the global audience. To attract them, we must make films of multiple genres which have a sensitive narrative."

Though Bollywood is the world's largest film industry in terms of volume and ticket sales, critics and analysts have blamed Indian filmmakers for lacking originality to dish out scripts that fall back on the time-tested hit formulas of cheesy romances, revenge potboilers, melodramas and most commonly remakes of Hollywood and Bollywood movies.

"The scripts have to improve, the use of technology has to improve. In the past, signing a star could ensure a hit but now things have changed. On the technology front, more and more movies have to be made slick," said Screwvala.

"People want to see good films now and so the importance of having a very good script has increased. Having stars in a film might not ensure a box-office hit these days."

Screwvala also panned the duration of Indian films that sometimes run for more than three hours.

"We have to cut down on the length of the films," he said. "I feel if something cannot be said in two to two-and-a-half hours, then it's bad production work. The core audience is the youth and they are not willing to see movies that go on and on."

He said Bollywood, which accounts for only about one percent of global film revenues, has to increase it by tackling some of the key challenges the industry is facing today.

"Today, consumer pays for content," he said. "People are now spending around 11 percent of their disposable income on leisure and entertainment. This should go up to 19 to 20 percent in the next two to three years and for that we have to make films with content."

"I'm not criticising what Bollywood is doing. It's a learning curve for all of us. We have a lot of work to do to improve on our content and technology to match the standards set by the West."

Though Hindi films in the recent past have shown a tendency to move away from the archaic song-and-dance routines to produce mature, close to reality scripts, they have not created a ripple on the global stage by winning awards at top film festivals.

"Lagaan" in 2001 was the last movie to be selected as an Indian entry to the Oscars in the final list of Best Foreign Film Category.