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Monday, 3 January, 2000, 12:28 GMT
Bad year for Bollywood

Cameraman Only 16 blockbusters have been bought for national showings


By Paul Danahar in Delhi

The sets got grander, the budgets got bigger and the stars still glittered - but last year the massive movie going audience in India didn't seem to care.

Bollywood, as the Bombay industry is known, is having a bad run at the box office.

Reports from the nation's entertainment capital suggest that of the more than 1,200 blockbusters on the production floor, only 16 have been bought to show throughout the whole country.

It seems to confirm the trend feared by Bollywood movie moguls that the Indian audience is losing its taste for the spicy masala mix of love, action and songs.


Wiinslet and de Caprio Titanic: Topped the Indian box offices in 1998
The industry hasn't really recovered from the blow delivered in 1998 when for the first time a foreign film, "Titanic", topped the box office.

Critics at the time put the success of "Titanic" in India down to the fact that it contained all the usual popular ingredients of a Bollywood classic, but in a more original form and they called on the country's movie makers to freshen up their act.

Their warnings seem to have gone unheeded.

What hasn't changed is the Indian appetite for the cinema, but at the moment sex and horror seems to be the big draw.

A rash of low-budget films has moved in to claw away audiences in the lower grade rural and small-town cinema halls, while at the other end of the market, the Hollywood film "Sixth Sense" directed by Indian-born Manoj Night Shyamalan has been playing to packed houses in the metropolitan areas, along with more arthouse-style films with a serious content.

No-one really thinks Bollywood is in terminal decline, but there is a growing realisation that its stars and producers will have to think a little more imaginatively in the future if they want to keep their place in the heart of the Indian moviegoer.

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See also:
01 Jul 99 |  Entertainment
Bollywood star tops the poll
19 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Filming India's sex secrets
30 Jan 99 |  Entertainment
Bollywood: A class act to follow
25 Jan 99 |  Entertainment
Bollywood goes back to its roots

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