Bollywood may be broken, and it has itself to blame, according to Reuters.
“Films are not working – it’s our fault, it’s my fault,” Akshay Kumar told reporters last month after his new movie “Raksha Bandhan” tanked at the box office. “I have to make the changes, I have to understand what the audience wants. I want to dismantle the way I think about what kind of films I should do.”
Indeed times have changed and Bollywood, a cultural pillar of modern India, is losing its allure.
Reuters reported that the rise of streaming services like Netflix (NFLX.O) and Amazon Prime (AMZN.O) during the COVID pandemic has conspired with growing Bollywood fatigue among younger generations who view many of its movies as outdated and unfashionable.
It said of the 26 Bollywood releases this year, 20 – or 77% – have been flops, defined as losing half or more of their investment, according to the Koimoi website, which tracks industry data.
That’s about double the failure rate of 39% in 2019, before the pandemic shook up society and forced hundreds of millions of Indians to wean themselves off cinemas, for decades the bastion of Bollywood and its main source of revenue.
Christina Sundaresan, a 40-year-old mother of two teenage girls in Mumbai, used to see at least one Bollywood movie a week in the cinema before the pandemic. Now she rarely goes.
“I mean, they are okay to watch when you need a laugh but I would not go to a theatre for them,” she said. “My daughters used to watch every movie with us, but now they’re not interested either. They are very much into Korean shows and series which air on these streaming platforms.”
They’re not alone in converting to international streaming services, which came to India relatively late – Netflix and Amazon Prime launched in 2016 – offering varied content made in America and Europe as well as India and elsewhere in Asia, from Parasite and Avengers to Squid Game and Game of Thrones.