Indian movies embracing technology – Part 1

Some of the biggest movie buffs around, my friends and me do go and watch nearly all of the movies that are released from the Mumbai film industry. The Indian Movie industry is now the biggest movie industry in the world. The reach of the Indian Movie Industry these days is not judged by the viewers but only with the technologies that are used for distribution since the Indian Movie Industry is now breaking culture barriers and language barriers world over.

The most successful movies of all time commercially have happened in the recent past, with Ghajini and now 3 Idiots. Inflation adjustment might make these movies just below the legendary Sholay, but having said that these movies had a big advantage that many other movies in the past did not have. Digital Distribution.

It is now a certifiable fact that Ghajini, the Aamir Khan starrer was released in over 1200 theaters the highest ever for a movie. Screening in small villages as well as in metros at the same time, the biggest strength of this movie was the reach into small towns and villages where movies would normally release a few weeks and even few months later. Digital solutions in filmed entertainment are now helping the producers to reach relevant audience & increase the number of prints without any additional cost. The Advantage of Digital Distribution over normal distribution would definately be :

  • Reduction in the cost of sending the movies across, with the Analog tapes which were heavier as well as large in size it is definitely reduces the trips to the movie screens etc.
  • Low Budget ‘different’ movies : Usually good stories that are not lapped up by the big banners had to be funded out of the excess money of someone, since they used to struggle to find the big budgets required for shooting, post processing and distribution. With new technologies more interesting different movies will get a voice without having to shoot a big hole in the producers pocket. And like me a lot of us movie buffs like these different movies.
  • Reach out to a bigger Audience : Like the examples mentioned before, the higher reach means higher gains to the producers as well as and the motivation for the piracy industry is reduced since the movie is more available to the masses. This would also mean that the return on investment of movies would be faster.

However the physical barrier is having too few digital screens. Currently only about 11% of screens in India have the digital screening system. To overcome this barrier, the movie industry is trying really hard to bring the movies closer to us, via the mobile phone. One of the most carried personal gadget in the world might soon become the new center of the movie industry. Personal Movie screening is taking off slowly but surely, when I bought my N95 8GB it came preloaded with a digitally protected copy of Spiderman 3; and my friends in India got the cult movie Sholay preloaded.

The increase in mobile penetration can be seen with other famous Bollywood movies like Om Shanti Om which is now available for download for the ‘Really Small Screen’ i.e. the Mobile Phone through iTunes as well. Furthermore, Mobile Movie cards are now entering the market, through the service HotSpot. Hotspot is offering movie titles along with trivia, wallpapers, special cut scenes etc on a 1GB SD Card that is suitable for the mobile phones.

I can already hear some of you reading say, a movie is not made for the Mobile Phones, computers are OK, but not mobiles. So enter the omnipresent Google. Google has decided that it will get into the pay per download mode of movies, through its flagship service YouTube. YouTube has just signed a deal with the producers of 3 Idiots, to be able to provide the movie for download for a nominal fee after 12 weeks of release of the film. With the small internet penetration in India along with the bandwidth hungry download of the movie would still not stop people from downloading / buying / sharing pirated copies. However I believe it is a step in the right direction especially since the internet penetration is slowly and surely increasing in India.

So taking this into account I do believe that there us a very nice opportunity to mobile providers and local handset manufacturers in the country to get into the mobile Bollywood bandwagon. Let me know what you guys think as well ?


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