Why don’t more Indian films do well globally?


Cannes : The big cultural movie gap between India's vast film market and the rest of the world acts inhibits the nation's films from conquering new territory in global markets, a forum at the Cannes Film Festival was told Sunday.

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"There is a huge rupture in tone, style and taste between Indian films and winners at international film festivals," Cameron Bailey, a representative of the Toronto Film Festival told the forum on Indian filmmaking.

"Indian filmmakers could do more to educate audience about how to watch Indian films," he said.

The forum, hosted by Indian filmmaker and Cannes veteran Krishna Shah as well as Hollywood film producer Bhuvan Lall, sought answers to the lack of global box office acclaim for Indian film productions.

Bailey went on to point out that films by Indian directors like Deepa Mehta's "Water" and Mira Nair's "The Namesake" had enjoyed international success because "their filmmaking sensibilities do not come from India, but from other cultures."

The Indian movie business' lack of success in international markets compares to the recent accomplishments chalked up by South Korean, Iranian or Chinese filmmakers. No Indian film has yet earned $100 million globally or won a top film award.

This is despite the recent popularity of Bollywood movies, which some Indian filmmakers see as undercutting their attempts to forge a new global reputation for their country's industry.

"Bollywood is stifling," Indian filmmaker Piyush Jha said.

Jha, a director whose films include "Chalo America" and "The King of Bollywood", added, "Every time I go to a distributor and say I'm Indian, they say 'Oh, Bollywood' and the accompanying label of song and dance routines attached to that, have to be overcome yet again."

This year's Cannes is marking the co-anniversaries of 60 years of Indian independence and 60 years of the festival with a two-day mini-festival focusing on Indian cinema, which is being mounted as part of Cannes' Tous les Cinemas du Monde (Cinema of the world) section.

Altogether, seven Indian films will be screened to reflect the linguistic, historical and creative depth of the nation's moviemaking and the growth of Bollywood.

The Indian film business also has a big presence at the festival, as a consequence helping to compensate for the lack of entries in the competition this year.

But Hannah Fisher, a representative of the Bangkok Film Festival, said dealing with the Indian film business was extremely confusing as there were so many states on the sub-continent, making it a very bureaucratic and slow-moving process.

Fischer went on to say she also "would like to tone down the melodramatics" in Indian films.

Villages in an Indian film appear "glossy and not realistic" as in a Chinese film, said Mira Advari, a representative of the Hollywood Reporter. She also stressed that audiences have to be able to relate to the manner in which a story is told.

Apart from these factors, Derek Malcolm, film reviewer for London's daily Evening Standard, said one problem facing many Indian films was that they were very long and that the quality of their print was very poor.

The subtitles are awful and done by bureaucrats in India, Malcolm said.

Canadian movie producer David Hamilton believes that while film-making skills are available in India, the business side of the nation's movie sector needs to step up the pressure on the country's filmmakers.

In particular, he suggested increased DVD sales may help global exposure of Indian directors.