Bollywood media firm Reliance Big Entertainment, which is run by Anil Ambani – the sixth richest man in the world, has announced that it will be making 10 Hollywood movies for one billion dollars. In order to do this, Reliance has signed deals with the production teams of the Hollywood stars Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt.
However, it is unlikely these films will be traditional Bollywood titles. Rajesh Sawhney, who is the president of Reliance, said: “We want to make Hollywood movies that have a global audience. We are not inserting Bollywood into Hollywood just yet.” He also added that his team would be choosing films for their content, rather than their genre. He said: “I think Indian movies get stereotyped as all singing and dancing in the same way as Hollywood gets stereotyped for sex and violence. We are looking for good content regardless of genre.” Ultimately, Mr Sawnhey said that the company are hoping to make some huge films that will make them money. He said: “We are looking to make big-budget, live-action movies in Hollywood that make money for us.”
Hollywood has been looking for funding from Indian film producers for a while, as the American economy is struggling. In recent years, Disney, News Corporation and Sony have all made big-money deals with Bollywood companies, although none of the deals were as big as the Reliance one.
Mr Sawhney said that the deal signified the beginning of a long relationship between Bollywood and Hollywood. He said: “The aim is to look at 30 film scripts under this deal over the next two years, out of which 10 will go to screen. This is just the beginning of our relationship with Hollywood.”
Many film experts see this deal as a real marriage of two cultures. Komal Nahta, editor of Mumbai trade paper the Film Street Journal, labelled the deal as a “major” one. He said: “Reliance is making a major move in putting Hollywood and Bollywood together. The key will be whether you can make Indian movies that sell abroad and at the same time sell foreign stars in India.”
Many people believe that deals like this could teach Bollywood much about filmmaking. At present, the Indian film industry releases around 1,000 movies a year, but only makes about £1 billion annually. In comparison, Hollywood produces half this number, but has 10 times the sales. The reason that is often given for Bollywood’s relative lack of commercial success is that traditional Bollywood studios are generally family-run affairs that rely on star talent to carry a film, rather than good scripts.