What’s wrong with Indian entertainment and why Rs 100 Cr Bollywood club is not cool?

We recently interviewed Abhigyan Jha Founder & CEO of Undercover Productions Ltd (the man behind JayHind TV and hits like Movers and Shakers). We asked him what he thought about the Rs 100 Cr club which Movie makers feel proud of and what challenges Indian entertainment industry is facing. The answers he gave are very candid, fascinating and revealing. Read them with your eyes wide open 🙂

Mehak:

Why do u think 100 Crore Bollywood club is not cool?

Abhigyan:

We have 121 crore people in this country so accordingly it doesn’t make sense. If a movie is making 100 crores business that means it’s collecting less than Rs 1 per capita which is extremely low. If we take example of US which has 310 million people, and movies there make upto 3-4 dollars per capita, we can see a huge difference. The simple reason for this huge disparity is that most Indians are not watching Bollywood movies and it proves that the content of our movies is getting pathetic. These figures about how much a movie has collected from the success at box office are misleading for a country like India. 3 idiots was the only movie that came close to selling 3 crore tickets in last 30 years. The top 3 Bollywood films by Box Office Gross ever are Mughal-e-Azam, Ganga Jamuna & Sholay and 3 Idiots is at a lousy 36th spot. (as per Box Office Bollywood Gold Standard). Shahrukh Khan’s movies are not even in the top 40. Mr. Bachchan has only 2 movies in top 50 – Sholay and Amar Akbar Anthony and he was not the solo actor in both. Mr. Dilip Kumar comes out as the biggest hero. Most of his films are in the top 20 grossing films. What went wrong was that after 1980 our filmmakers started making really bad movies.

When you call movies like Sholay and Mughal-e-azam, Superhits with collections close to or higher than Rs.1000 Crores, in the same breadth you cannot call movies like Housefull, a hit by any standard. We should not be told how much money, the movie made but instead how many people are actually watching the movie: How many tickets were actually sold. Movies, Television shows and Music in our country are not serving the right content but everybody is in denial mode that nothing is wrong. We are being told numbers which mean nothing: no one can get a sense out of TRP and Box Office Gross that very few people are actually watching even the so called HITS! Nobody will be able to tell you how many viewers are watching a “2.5 TRP rated show” ! Not even the channel people would know except for the strategy and marketing team. The Hindi Speaking market in India is at least 50 crore people out of which only 70 lakhs would be watching a show whose TRPs are 2 or more. In 1992-93, on a Hit series like say Dekh Bhai Dekh: each episode was made between 5.5 or 6 lakhs and unbelievably, the amount spent per episode of a show is the same today as well. After 20 years of inflation & Rupee Devaluation.

Mehak: 

So you think the content as whole is degrading? Not just movies?

Abhigyan:

We all remember Altaf Raja? He sold 27 lakh cassettes of his non-movie album near the end of 1990s and today an artist cannot sell even 2 lakhs. People are paying to get Airtel’s own jingle as ringtone but not Hindi Bollywood music. What can you do when everybody is in denial?

The recent show Satyameva Jayate had received a TRP of 3.0. Apparently Amir Khan has spent 30 crores on marketing and 7 crore per episode. They were trying to reach around 12 million people of India by telecasting the show on Doordarshan apart from Star Network. But this is not enough if they got 3 ratings for the show. It is a complete waste.

Let’s take another brilliant example- UK has a population of 60 million people and its number one show is the Music reality show done by ‘Simon Cowell’ which has around 9-10 million viewers. That’s a whopping 17-18% of the population.

Mehak:

Why these days no “real” blockbuster Movie is coming out of industry?

Abhigyan:

They have forgotten how to make a blockbuster and they have given up. It is like ‘Baniya’ game. Just like a small merchant would not like to make it big, similarly the Indian filmmakers never think of scale. They put 20 crores in a film and getting back 100 crores and this is sufficient for them. Nobody has been able to scale as they are satisfied. The filmmakers are looking at small number of people and at a much smaller universe. We don’t have the reach or the ambition to scale. Nobody is attempting to make it big. We don’t want to grow and we look at everything from the wrong side. A question to the filmmakers – Why do u make a film? Is it because you want to make money or you want people to watch your movie by showing them an amazing story and screenplay? If it is just the money then these filmmakers should have chosen the job of bankers, merchants or something else.

Can we even think of putting Yashraj Productions in comparison to Walt Disney? Can we compare what SRK does in terms of movies in comparison to Tom Cruise?

This year, IPL connected around 20 crore people in one or the other way. IPL alone is more than half of our Bollywood industry in terms of theatrical revenues. This proves that Bollywood is failing massively at attracting audiences to watch it’s movies.

Mehak:

Has Hollywood movies doing extremely good in India affected Bollywood?

Abhigyan:

No they are not doing extremely good but they have started doing well now. It started from the first Spiderman in India which had made the highest collection by a Hollywood film at the time.

Mehak:

Do you think Hollywood will surpass Bollywood in India in upcoming times? If yes, what lessons Bollywood needs to learn?

Abhigyan:

Yes, it can. Distribution system of Bollywood is to be blamed primarily. These are family based distribution systems that need to be changed.

Mehak:

Is there a hope that this pathetic content being delivered continuously can change?

Abhigyan:

Content can change and it is possible. It might change tomorrow or day after tomorrow. It doesn’t take much time/effort to change.

Vicky Donor was a recent good example. If an average film is like Vicky Donor, in quality then it’s a good sign. Paan Singh Tomar is another example of a movie which was not marketed properly but if it had been marketed like Kahani then it could have done better than Kahani.

So here we are throwing some really open questions to our Movie and TV show makers. What do you think of Indians as an audience?

Should you really care about 2% of TV viewing audience?

Let’s start with the tweet which triggered this post:

Sneha Rajani ‏ @SnehaRajani

Do people on Twitter realise that they represent less than 2% of the TV viewing audience in our country?

When it comes from Senior Executive Vice President and Business Head of popular TV channel, it got to have some weight. Well you might not care about “this” 2% of TV viewing audience (which turns out to be a whopping 8 million) as this does not affect your TRPs “yet”. But just to bring out this question today- Don’t you think this is anyway a subset of existing TV viewing audience? Also it is probably the only audience with a face and platform to reach out to you?

So what’s the real story behind all of this?

The show “Bade Acche Laggte Hain” till now (it’s been a year) offered an outstanding storyline and audience loved how this couple who got married and fell in love with each other and their consummation sequence. Not only that, there were such awesome episodes and most cherishing scenes of Ram and Sakshi, which one can keep on watching a million times. Even their phone-cut scenes were shot so beautifully, one could easily feel their happiness as well as sadness. The show had such interesting charm and was in top 10 shows for first few months. Bade Acche Laggte Hain is definitely ‘the-most-talked about’ show on social media (a rare feat in India). Everyone must not be watching it, but they all know about it. The freshness of the show was something that kept audiences glued to the show.

But, unfortunately, these days, fans feel, that the show has lost its charm and its original storyline. Not only the fans, but even the Director of the show felt the same; when she tweeted to a fan

sangieta rao ‏ @sangieta3

@heartrider_anu. I can only say u all were thr wid us in our good time… Hope u stay wid us now, as this phase shall too pass..

This is because the current track is sort of a separation of the lead couple. The loyal fans do not want to see the separation track and instead want to watch how the couple faces challenges of their life ‘together’. They surely do not wish to watch the same K-soapy stuff which is like ‘been there, done that’ sort of a thing for them!

rajalaxmi sahu ‏ @rajsah1982

@PositiveMe2 @sangieta3 Why d shows are being made? for fans and viewers?then it shd go in way we expect it.cut the crap pls, dnt ruin BALH

 Tullika ‏ @tullikarastogi

@PositiveMe2 people are suffering from heart attacks sadness syndrome please bring Ram and Priya together and bring love strong moments

 Priyanka Kannan ‏ @Kannan_Priyanka

@ramkapoor1973 @PositiveMe2 @sangieta3 The way the story is progresing – both the viewer interest n TRP wil DIP! 0-out of box thinking..SAD!

Also there is news about a leap happening in Bade Acche Laggte Hain. Just one article somewhere and FANS go BOOOM! The outrage has no END! They just do NOT wish to watch the leap. Few fans have gone to the extent of saying “we will stop watching the show if there is a leap”. This is insane! But that shows how strongly and emotionally fans are attached to the show and they do not like it being ruined in such a worse way. There is a petition which fans have created and have been broadcasting it to other fans, asking them to sign it if they don’t wish to see a leap in the a show:

@kogupta#noleapinBALH, show is too unique to be thrown into leap fest already. We want a happy pregnancy track with cute RaYa moments!!

Bade Ache Lagte Hain ‏ @BadeAchche_RKR

With rumors of 4 year leap coming up in the show, we have created a petition to let the creatives know that the…

So you have a got a fair bit of idea now, this in all probability looks like the first case where fans have taken the show-makers of a channel by storm (In India). Show makers are forced to reply to fans and since they cannot take the decision of changing their story-line based on few “thousand” tweets, they have gone defensive. Importantly, the show’s TRPs are not low and hovering around 2.4-2.6, which might be holding the makers to listen to this “2%” of TV audience.

Since people on Twitter might also get influenced by peers, we thought of taking neutral views of our audience at iDubba regarding the same issue. (In just one day we were able to register more than 150 reactions) Here are the results-


Q1. Do you feel Bade Achhe Laggte Hain has lost its content quality?
Yes-
58% (50)
No- 30% (26)
Maybe- 12% (10)

Q2. Do you think there should be a LEAP in the show?
Yes- 53% (46)
No- 42% (36)
I don’t know- 5% (4)

Surprisingly the results here indicate people would like to see a leap as it might give them some new content.

Here are some of the reactions from our users:

“It should continue like the way it had started, all lovey lovey.. no vamps/villaneous roles… should end off in another 20 episodes.. then maybe season 2 could start :)”

“They shud put some sensible plots in the shows n make RAM(the lead character) some head to think n see the truth….how can the lead character be so dumb….”

“Coolest show ever watched on tv u could add some funny stuff to have a good laugh with family. missing the sense of humor of the story writer “

“Show has totally gone boring. If nothing changes for good in next few episodes, I ll quit watching it. Make it something exciting. Like death of any characters or intro of new chars.”

Conclusion:

So as we can see the reactions about the show are mixed but one thing is clear- viewers believe the show has lost its original charm and quality and they want it to be back on track (which even show’s Director agreed to). Put aside TRPs, with platforms like Twitter and iDubba, TV viewers get a chance to make their voices heard. Whether some actions are taken or not is a completely different thing as it requires the involvement of various other stakeholders for same. But we believe that very soon show makers will consider including “qualitative” data too instead of just “quantitative” data while deciding the path of a show. In U.S. for example Nielson found out that TRPs of shows are in accordance with various social TV conversation analyzers like Trendrr TV. Which means you can NO longer leave people’s voices unheard. With internet users growing by leaps and bounds (in India) th3 trend is only going to get strong – from 2% to 20%, could you afford to neglect these viewers then??