Not many people know it, or even consider it possible, but actresses like Katrina Kaif and Bollywood in general, effectively rule the digital space. How and why? With the largest wired audience, and because Indian people are perhaps even more passionate about film entertainment than even Americans.
In a recent list of India’s most “wired” actresses compiled by Google, Katrina Kaif was overwhelmingly the most “surfed” actress in Asia. Along with the continent’s second most popular siren of cyberspace Aishwarya Rai, these talented and popular entertainers might even rival western celebs in sheer numbers of fans, especially online. Big news from Mumbai huh?
Why Bollywood, Why Not Hollywood?
We were asked the other day why we increased coverage of India and more particularly Bollywood. The answer is fairly simple; it’s different, more fun, and slowly but surely India is emerging as a force as not only a “wired” market, but as an entertainment powerhouse. As public relations, technology and communication professionals, all of us worldwide that is, accepting that the world is more than Hollywood or Silicon Valley.
As business people, or simply as reporters, approaching business from an ethnocentric or regional perspective does not an International company make. Our coverage of stories, PR and otherwise, now reflects proportionately the numbers of people and gravity of communication news. Another factor we will call “the fascination variable”, will continue to impact our news stories as well. The long and short of this communication theory (if we can call it that) is the question; “How can we ignore or forget about billions of people?” Does that mean Hollywood is no more? Certainly not, but from an International perspective, face it, people in Lithuania could care less about Paris or Perez Hilton.
Some Numbers For Teary Eyed Movie Goers
In 2004 Indian movie theaters sold twice as many tickets as their counterparts in the US, or around 3 billion tickets. This number represents more tickets sold than in the other 9 top countries combined, by the way. If that number is not indicative enough, factor in that Bollywood, for the most part, produces movies destined for home viewing only. As for movie production capacity, India also produces more movies than the US, China and Japan combined.
Finally, Bollywood’s combined audience, including fans on the Web, is affected by any number of variables, not the least of which is the expansion of their audience. Without going into in depth metrics here, this factor is simply a function of people from India immigrating to other countries. An example would be the millions of Indian people now living in the US. What kinds of films do you think they watch?
But Wait, It’s More Than A Numbers Game
The only argument I can think of where this little comparison might falter is for the “quality” component of entertainment. Certainly the low budget films made in India, by and large, are not as refined or well produced as the best of the best. However, given the “dogs” we watch each week from the local video store, and the waste of money we have squandered over the years at the box office – well, the reader knows the point here. Indian films, the best of them, have a character that is refreshing compared to their western counterparts too. I do not know what to call it, but “alive”, or “happy” might be good terms.
The Indian people, at least through the camera lens, appear to be a jubilant and funny lot. Considering all the strife within that country, this is a particularly fascinating aspect from their entertainment industry. Perhaps strife and down to Earth existence produces the “happy” effect? As for the quality of acting, well, one does not have to graduate from the Julliard to know how to act. Fine film is more than the Academy Awards, and the breadth of entertainment experience we all share comes from, to be honest, the movies we see in search for an Academy Award quality experience.
Taking a look at celebrity, a big component of the entertainment world, one cannot help but look at the popularity of stars like Katrina Kaif. It is interesting to think that she would never be recognized on the streets of New York or LA, but is recognized by more people in Asia than say any top US actress. Even more compelling are statistics about India actresses in general. Compared to their male counterparts, their popularity is far greater as far as their Internet fans, and those at the box office. This is of course a function of the male demographic we know, but I find it most interesting that from our experience, these actress’s fans are also much more passionate about them. I will discuss this aspect in a later article when we interview one of these stars.
For now, and to belay any misunderstanding by our avid readers, or passers by, I just wanted to clarify Everything’s position a little, and also to inform people of these few tidbits and trends. In the coming weeks we will be expanding news into other sectors which our readers will find not only interesting, but which have been, by and large, ignored in the traditional media. Are we evacuating the US news space? Certainly not. We will be adding new columnists as well, and directing attention toward stories our readership will appreciate. As for those who wondered about Bollywood and India, well, the answer I hope is, we are not stupid.
Glamor is not confined to California or New York.