Hollywood actors are coming up with unique ways to woo Indian audiences. While Vin Diesel and Jackie Chan were in India this year to promote their films xXx: The Return of Xander Cage and Kung Fu Yoga respectively, Hugh Jackman (for Logan) and Emma Stone (for Beauty and the Beast) have recently uploaded videos on social media that volley to their Indian fans.
In the video, Jackman says, “Namaste to all my fans in India. Do you guys know that cricket is my favorite sport? And what a great journey you and your cricket team have been going through in the last few years! Your superheroes have been overpowering all the teams in the world... I know that the Indian team is gonna play bold… bolder than ever…cause that’s what superheroes do…that’s what Logan does.”
Emma Watson, on the other hand, took the opportunity to connect with her fans by wishing them for Holi. She says, “Namaste India, wishing you a very Happy Holi! And don’t forget to see Beauty and the Beast, this March in cinemas near you.”
Though India has always been a big market for Hollywood films, it’s only of late that the actors have started making efforts to connect with the audience here. We speak to trade analysts and some actors who have worked in Hollywood films to know what it means for the Indian film industry.
Actor Sonu Sood, who worked with actor and martial artist Jackie Chan, says, “It’s a good thing that they do it. I think it’s a good message to all the other actors in different parts of the world that India is one place where people want to promote their movies. It’s a good signal and all these actors are helping make things easy. I think it’s a global platform created by all the industries and people want to work in different languages.
Even though it’s helping create global opportunities, actor Ali Fazal says, “The final bridge will be to see one of us out there or our movies going big there.” Fazal, who starred in Furious 7 (2015) and is currently working on the Judi Dench starrer Victoria and Abdul, adds, “It was waiting to happen. We are a global player in terms of everything good or bad. And after a while, we’ve got a change in the audiences and movie-goers who really dig cinema that drives home the point. So if it’s Hollywood, then why not. And they’ve realised that on the other side. It’s a good thing.”
Trade analyst Amod Mehra, says, “These actors used to promote their films in Asia earlier, but since India’s business of Hollywood has increased, and they see potential and films can do well here. If you see collectively, they are doing better than Hindi cinema. There is a growth here and that is why they are coming. India is a growing market and they see a lot of potential here.”
Agrees trade analyst Atul Mohan, adding that youth is the biggest driving force of this trend. “There is no second opinion that India is a big, emerging market for Hollywood movies. In the last two years, films like The Avengers, The Jungle Book and The Fast & The Furious have done really well. From their global revenue of around 3,000 cr, they make 100-180 cr from India. This used to happen rarely in the past. From the last two years, India has stared contributing big numbers. The market is growing with each passing day. On an average, a Hollywood film does a business of 40-50 cr in India.People are moving away from the traditional movie-watching pattern; they want something different. So it’s a win-win situation for both -- audiences get to watch something new, and the movies and theatres make good money.”
While this signals a positive turn of events, there is one thing that needs to be checked. “In most parts of the world, like Europe and China, the local industry has ceased to exist because Hollywood has really taken over. It has started doing that here as well,” says actor Tannishtha Chatterjee, who has worked in British films Brick Lane (2007) and Anna Karenina (2012). One factor that works in the favour of our films is the cultural uniqueness. She says, “I think we should not compete with Hollywood, and instead, stick to our originality. That will give our audiences something completely different than what Hollywood is offering. If we start copying, then we will lose our audience.”