Bollywood has sometimes been seen as the Indian audience’s escape from reality, but it seems that the reality of the economic slowdown sweeping
A still from Rab Ne Bana De Jodi
A still from Rab Ne Bana De Jodi More Pics
across the globe hasn’t left the movie biz here untouched.

A few movies have already reportedly felt the pinch of current developments (see box). DT spoke to producers and production houses in B-town to gauge to what extent the film business has been hit by rising costs, and found that while some see stars’ prices and other costs coming down, others don’t feel that Bollywood’s been affected at all.

‘Cosmetics and Bollywood are recession-proof!’
Karan Johar, Dharma Productions

“Cosmetics and Bollywood are recession-proof! But that does not mean recession hasn’t affected the industry. It has – in a positive way. All that artificial pricing that was going through the roof will come down. All these three to four movie deals and crores of money as fee sounds good but it’s not something that can last. I never believed in artificial pricing and now it will die a natural death. What works any and every time is a good story. Give the audience that and recession will be forgotten.”

‘Time for the industry to re-structure the actors’ pricing’
Siddharth Roy Kapur, executive vice president – marketing, distribution and syndication, UTV

“We are in a fairly decent situation, keeping recession in mind. We need to revaluate some things. We have not had to modify anything so far, which is also to say that we always try and model our projects in a way that recession or other factors do not affect them. This is the right time for the industry to re-structure the actors’ pricing. I’d look at the positive side and say that recession might just be a good thing for the industry. Bollywood will hold strong in this time of recession for sure.”

‘We’ll encash on recession’
Sandeep Bhargav, Studio 18

“Recession is a time when there’s a lot of economic pressure all round. This is the only time that the common man wants to escape from this pressure desperately. And the best escape in our country is entertainment, which is cinema. This is a great time for Indian cinema and I am sure it will encash on the recession.”
‘Negotiations will be tougher’

Shailendra Singh, MD, Percept Pictures
“Recession will have a huge affect on our industry. The talent price is unbelievable now, so there’ll be a revaluation of the same. Now, negotiations will be tougher. Good scripts and tight budgets have to be kept in mind. The problem is that our industry is very fragmented. So if you decline to pay a particularly large sum to an actor for a movie, he will walk up to someone else in another place and get the demanded price there. This has to be changed!”

‘Small-budget movies are at the least risk’
Taran Adarsh, trade analyst
“Huge investments have been made and the price for talent has gone through the roof. It is finally time to come back to earth, and this is what recession is going to do. The corporates did not leave much scope for independent production houses and made it difficult for them. But now, even the corporates are going to cut costs. This had to happen! Rs 71 crore for acting in a movie! Why? This time of recession is time to wait and watch. Three films will decide which way the industry’s fortunes go – Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Ghajini and Chandni Chowk To China. Also, while big-budget movies are testing the waters warily, the small-budget movies are at the least risk. The time has come when the bubble is going to burst, so we just have to sit tight and see what the effect of that will be.”

‘There’s a sense of insecurity’
Komal Nahata, trade analyst

“The slowdown has been felt in the industry slowly, but it has now caught up with it. However, it is difficult to say whether this has happened as a result of the global impact or due to the box-office disasters of recent big-budget movies, like Drona, Kidnap and Karzzzz. A sense of insecurity now pervades all production concerns, more so in Bollywood’s corporates houses.”

‘This is no time for bravado’
Kishore Lulla, Eros International

“With the liquidity crunch in the market, people now have less disposable income and so they will now spend less on luxury and entertainment – which means the movie-going clientele will decrease and so will the box-office collections. This will first affect the exhibition and distribution sector and consequently the production sector as it will have less money coming in from the two main sources – film exhibition and distribution. With less money on hand, producers will be forced to cut costs before the system gets corrected. This is no time for any kind of bravado.”

Movies affected by recession

1. London Dreams: According to industry sources, Studio 18 backed out from Vipul Shah’s Ajay Devgan-starrer London Dreams because they had invested a huge sum in it. Sandeep Bhargav of Studio 18 declined to comment.

2. Anubhav Sinha’s FX movie: Anubhav Sinha’s FX movie that Shah Rukh Khan’s production company was to produce has been stalled for some time now, according to industry insiders. This is also reportedly the result of the economic slowdown.

3. Kajra Re: T-Series CEO Bhushan Kumar recently told director Pooja Bhatt to reduce the budget of the Himesh Reshammiya-starrer Kajra Re, the movie she is to direct for the music company, even before it has gone on the floors. After the indifferent box-office performance of its Himesh Reshammiya starrer Karzzzz, the T-Series boss reportedly did not want to take an expensive risk in a second Reshammiya film.

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