The Oscars of Bollywood are in NYC this weekend– here’s a look at the major money making Bollywood biz and must-see mega hits like ‘Baahubali 2,’ ‘Pink’ and ‘Neerja.’
Bollywood business is booming.
Indian films are becoming more mainstream moneymakers in the US, commonly exceeding $8 million just in the first week of release, as more and more American audiences turn out to theaters to see powerhouse hits like “Baahubali 2.”
The 2017 International Indian Film Academy Festival, aka the Oscars of Bollywood, debuts in New York City at MetLife Stadium this weekend with musical acts and awards. But if you’re not going, think of it as an excuse to binge on some of the incredible film nominees you might have easily missed.
“We’re promoting Indian cinema by taking the stars closer to audiences across the world and increasing the number of screens so more and more people are watching,” IIFA director Viraf Sarkari tells Moneyish.
Some unfamiliar with the genre might think of a Bollywood movie simply as having a hero with a song and a dance, but this year’s “Best Picture” film nominees tackle complex and topical issues like rape, terrorism and the Olympics.
“Subjects about sports, human rights and social issues are being highlighted in a storytelling way like never before,” notes Sarkari.
Bollywood is a $2.32 billion industry, according to Variety, and India makes more movies than any other country, around 1,500 to 2,000 per year, in more than 20 different languages.
And it has already been an unprecedentedly successful year for Indian cinema. In April, “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” – a sequel to a mythical tale about opposing royal cousins battling each other in an ancient kingdom – became the highest-grossing worldwide Indian film in history, raking in a whopping $265 million. In comparison, other recent Hollywood action sequels like “Kick Ass Two” made $61 million, “John Wick Chapter Two” made $167 million and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” made $386 million worldwide.
In North America, “B2” has become the first Indian movie ever to pass $13 million in its first week of its release taking the top spot from last year’s record holder, wrestling drama “Dangal,” which made about $12.4 million. When “B2” opened in the US, it was up against blockbusters like “How to be a Latin Lover,” and “The Fate of the Furious,” and still came in third at the box office, surpassing “The Circle” with big stars like Tom Hanks and Emma Watson despite playing in less than 500 theaters.
Even Netflix is banking on Bollywood. Following its India launch last year, the streaming service announced its first Indian original series “Sacred Games” – a bilingual series in Hindi and English — which will star actor Saif Ali Khan, 46. The Mumbai-set drama will focus on the city’s web of corruption, politics and organized crime amid India’s economic renaissance, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Bollywood stars are also going up against Hollywood. Last year, Netflix streamed its first Indian comedy special worldwide featuring one of the country’s funniest stand-up comics, Vir Das, on the show, which has featured the likes of Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari and Kevin Hart.
And perhaps the most buzzed about former Bollywood star, Priyanka Chopra, is one of Hollywood’s household names, most recently starring in Paramount’s “Baywatch.” Aside from movies, she ranked in at No. 8 on Forbes’ World’s Highest Paid TV Actresses 2016 list making $11 million, a half million more than “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Margulies made.
Here are 4 Indian films you must see:
Three young female roommates from Delhi, one of India’s most unsafe cities for women, go to a rock concert in the outskirts of the capital one night and meet up with some guys who end up molesting one of the women, Minal (Taapsee Pannu). The dark drama plays out in court, where the girls are subjected to sexist questioning.
Directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, the film raises the theme of justice for women, and narrows in on the setbacks they face trying to lead independent lives.
This romantic sports-drama follows Sultan Ali Khan, a local wrestling champ with dreams of representing India at the Olympics, and a feisty young woman from the same town with dreams of her own. The two local wrestling greats but heads, but romance eventually ensues and their career dreams become intertwined.
The film, released worldwide last July, became the seventh highest grossing Indian film of all time.
Even the poster for this acclaimed thriller featuring a woman with a gun pointed at her head gets adrenaline going before it even starts.
It tells the story of a the courageous heroine Neerja Bhanot, who sacrificed her life while protecting the lives of 359 passengers during an aborted hijack attempt by a terrorist organization.
“M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story”
A teen from a small Eastern town in India becomes the captain of the most successful cricket team in the country, Team India — with a little guidance from teachers, coaches and friends.
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