What’s Wrong with Bollywood? The Explosive Truth Behind It

It has been 2 months since my friend wrote an article that was published in The Quint. As we expected it went viral. In Bollywood terms it was a 100-crore hit. Most readers saw merit in what he wrote and agreed that it’s a bitter truth that nobody is talking about. There were many who disagreed and they wrote many counter articles. We read each and every one of the articles and decided that we would love to fund the nursery education of some of the authors. I will come back to that later. The point of this article is to see whether we were right or wrong. How has Bollywood fared in the last 2 months since my friend wrote the article?

bollywoodBut before that let me tell you what kind of a shitstorm we went through. Since the article was published in The Quint, VTU and rupaKRS started making calls to Quint. They wanted to kill it. They wanted to know who wrote it. The tone was The Quint was supposed to carry the article under an anonymous byline. As it came under pressure it gave away my friend’s identity. Then began threat calls, blackmail, pressure to his family members, legal notice, hacking into his account, deleting the manuscript of his yet to be published book. We are taking legal help in the matter. It led to him becoming depressed, even suicidal at many times. He completely dropped the idea of the book he was writing. I told him if he is really going to die he should put out everyone’s name in his suicide note for driving him to it. The reason was simple, he told the truth but nobody likes it.

After much discussion I thought let me deliver some more bitter truth. Fuck the book, mate. Let’s give out dope every few weeks. I have been assisting him in his research of the book. I thought let me drop the bomb now but by doing few names in esreveR. This time I have already got it covered under legal and cyber protection.

Before The Quint published the article my friend had reached out to many other websites. The reaction from most of them was the same – it has great insight into Bollywood’s corporate studios but we can’t carry it. Because it names big people, it shames them for their inefficiency. Everyone just wants a version of the truth, not the real one. We are grateful to The Quint and Raghav Bahl for having the guts to carry it. More so because Raghav was in film business. I just wish that they had the balls to support it till the end. But nevertheless it still means a lot.

The week that The Quint published his article sorE had a big film in theatre – ohkeD raaB raaB. The 70 crore film was a big dud that could not go beyond the weekend. It collected about 30 crore (share of 15 crore for producers). WTF! Exactly like my friend wrote. A big corporate studio, sorE produced it. We know the film’s writer Sri Rao quite well. He went to India for the film’s premiere too. But sorry mate, this was bad.

Are you are wondering how did sorE produce such a bomb? Because they must be the only studio in this whole world where there is NO creative team. There is NO development team. NOBODY reads scripts there. NOBODY asks for narration there. Big hero, big heroine, KJo, kala chashma, lecxE – all big brands. How can all go wrong? They did. While KJo and lecxE made big money on the film (do notice how smart the independent producers are), about 50 crore loss was entirely of sorE, of no creative team fame.

As I sat down to write this article, the great minds at EE (lecxE-sorE) have delivered another colossal bore of a film that is also a big dud – 2 nO kcoR. The 80 crore film will end up doing a business of 10-15 crore (ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME). You can’t even imagine the losses. So how did it happen? Repeat after me – NO creative team at sorE. NOBODY reads scripts there. A hit film. We are making its sequel. Sure. Take my money. We have got lead actors and actress. Sure. Take all my money. As always lecxE made big money and loss is entirely sorE. Hattrick of dudes for lecxE.

Company’s MD ednaphseDJ recently said in an interview that the films were cheap. They haven’t lost much. lecxE hi-fived themselves.

Take a deep breath and let’s get back to what my friend wrote then – Actually, according to insiders, with lecxE Entertainment, no studio has earned any money. But Excel always gets its return on investment, charges a premium, keeps the IP, and even gets a share in the profit. My friend is a fucking Nostradamus. (He did predict Trump win too. I lost.I had to defecate in my porch. That was our bet.)

I have been hearing a lot of noise about their new venture ytinirT Pictures which is headed by another glib talker who is yet another IIM grad. Their vision is to make ONLY franchise films. Is that even possible? Let us gather more info on him and the company. I will write about them in the next article.

Another big studio film was ayzriM. ardnihaMA again trying his luck. He is again trusting his friend who has no experience in films. He comes from hospitality business. Otherwise which moron will give a fucking 60 crore to a film with two newcomers. WHAT WERE THEY SMOKING?mpoR made 30 crore from the film which includes direction fees, producers fee. HOW DO DIRECTORS FOOL THE STUDIOS? The list of directors who fool studios and make money is also long. The film got bad reviews and made 10 crore (share of only 5 crore for producers).

This ain’t the first time that ardnihaM plan has gone kaput. Last time it was Sanjay Gupta’s Acid Factory which looted them. Another shamelessly plagiarized film from the Gupta factory was made in 14 crores and sold to the studio for 36 crores. It made 5 crore, share of 2.5 crore. Studio shut shop! Take the help of both the hands to pick your jaw. No, I am not insinuating anything that starts with K….i….c…k….b…..

bbd-mirzya-rock-on-2It’s not just the so called commercial directors and producers who loot studios but even indie makers are not far behind. Onir’s Sorry Bhai produced by the same studio also didn’t make any money. The Quadraple studio of Versova- motnahP is famous for that. The money guy there anetnaMM is known to have done the worst deal for the studios – by hook or by crook. He looted and shut Saregama after ihaS iH ahtoohJ. The dud was made on a budget of 40 crores. The studio didn’t make any money as it was a box office disaster. The only people who made money were – Abbas Tyrewala (6 cr), John Abraham (8 crore), MM (8cr plus). Scroll down his IMDB list, so many flops and he still keeps making films and making money. Every time they find a new producer who can be looted. My friend wrote about Bombay Velvet in his article. Do read. Their story is the same like lecxE. Over priced films sold to studios at exorbitant cost with the help of kickbacks or by being cunning.

If you are wondering how actors make such horrible choices, the only reason is that generally nobody reads scripts. All that the actors want to know – who is the director, which is the production house. If it’s an actress they want to know who is the leading man. These are the 2 primary reasons why they end up doing such bad films.

Another studio tale – xoF ratS. They had inohD. They film made 120 crore at box office. Still the studio managed to just break even from all revenue sources. The reason is the film was expensive as it landed in the market at a cost of 125 crore and the rights of the biopic was bought for an astounding price. This reminds me of that video that I watched recently

Ghajini shattered many box office records but the studio made only 3/4 crores. It wasn’t helping much that the promoter’s star-struck sister was taking many creative calls and green lighting films with her prospective son-in-law who had no talent. He is baby sitting these days with no films.

pink-posterThe only film that made a big profit in the last 2 months was Shoojit Sircar’s Pink. At least 4 studios said no to it. Why? No big stars. Even the studio that produced Shoojit’s last film and made money on it, they also said no. How dumb. Whenever something is successful, both partners always try to collaborate again. Here they lost a big one. Shoojit independently produced and released the film. The 20cr film made about 70 crore business and is one of the most profitable films of the year. But no studio.

To sum it up this is a recap of what has happened in the recent past-

 – KRdiS has been sacked and Disney is shutting shop. His team is making sure that the term “sacked” is not used anywhere. Mutual, non-renewal of contract is their key word.

– lliG namA has been sacked from Balaji for non-performance. Balaji is shutting their films division and will focus on TV and digital content.

– Eros is still struggling with cash flow. Delivering dud after dud. Will they survive two monster duds?
– Viacom18 has green lit Sanjay Bhansali’s Padmavati at an astounding figure of 170 crore.
– Fox Star delivered another dud with Akira. They will make money on KJo’s ADHM
– Junglee Films hasn’t announced anything major so far except Rohan Sippy’s Junglee with an actor devoid of any talent.
– Zee Films had a hit in Rustom and  Sanjay Gupta delivered another dud with Jazbaa.
– Another studio headed by a female boss who loved Pink has green-lit a film to be directed by a director who was accused of rape and molestation. He exploited a starlet for many months.  The matter was settled out of court by giving cut from his direction fees by the producer of that film. That’s Bollywood’s work ethics for you and that too with a female boss on top. Isn’t it disgusting? In Hollywood the boss would have had to answer many questions.
– Ronnie Screwvala made his locker full of money by selling UTV to Disney and then announced that the studio system is extinct. That was the smoothest thing before the Trump win, read this article-
– A research agency guy who defended a studio head never tells in his article how her name was in kickbacks earlier too. This is not gossip. This is news covered by Economic Times and Bloomberg

Another article really caught my attention. It’s written by a so called trade analyst who seems to have just passed out of nursery school. Such naivety can only come at that class. His trade analyst father was a big time middleman between studio heads and Bollywood producers. He would take a commission for getting deals done between two parties. Kickback would come in cash and go in cash. All in the office of the trade analyst. In fact, in case of last year’s super hit sequel film, when it’s first part was green lit, it was done in the office of that trade analyst. The former studio head of Studio 18 is known to be a legend in taking kickbacks. He green lit unprecedented number of films during his term with non-stop kickbacks on all. He has now set up his production house with an A-list star who has given more than one hit this year.

But that studio head is not the only one. Most of the corrupt and incompetent studio people moved from one studio to another till the cash dried up in the market and the studios shut shop. Starting from annahKA (got one sided deals for his old Bollywood friends), abmaLS (another glib talker), avagrahBS, artohlaMV, inhaSP, hgniSU, imawS namuhsnA (was sacked from Birla’s Applause Entertainment for kickbacks). The list is long. I am sure we are forgetting many other names. I will keep adding them in the coming weeks

Will the promoters wake up and scrutinize the studio bosses on all financial deals? Will the studios hire creative people to read and evaluate scripts? Will a person with a creative background ever head a studio? IIMs, MBAs, financial whizkids, distributor gurus all have mostly shut studio shops. Who will be the first promoter to take a chance with a creative person as the studio head? We will come back with new questions and more answers after a few weeks.

If you are wondering why you don’t hear about these malpractices, the reason is that Bollywood is one big knee jerk-circle where film reviewers are filmmakers, reporters act as publicists, trade analysts are middlemen and producers keep studio bosses happy with rampant kickbacks while studios keep reviewers, reporters and trade analysts happy by cash or kind.

Sudama Bhatekar

(The author can be contacted at sudamabhatekar@gmail.com)


  1. Rani says:

    Very well thought through! Wish things changed ASAP.


  2. Shruti Chhabra says:

    Very insightful post. Please keep me posted with about your new article.


  3. Sadaf says:

    I am no expert but as Regular watcher or at lest one who used to watch I can certainly say Bollywood has lost touch with people like me . Most Bollywood movies are a dissapointment for me these days . The characters , the issues raised are all too slick and cool to connect with and there is no soul to them .I loved your article becuase it crystallised my thoughts . Why was a flop actor like Abhishek and a non actor like adtitya Roy Chopra given film after film ? well written !


  4. As indie film maker I always thought in creative aspects of Bollywood(though I don’t like it to call by this name)but soon I realized that whole industry is working in a feudal mindset. All families, relatives EXs etc would only get launch, release or promotions and of course money. Several studios n producers make this creatively vibrant profession like a severely corrupt political party. All good movie with in right budget would give a profit.


  5. Kelpha says:

    I had heard that the studios made 3-film, 5-film deal so that the studio share prices soared. Then the studio biggies would make their killing in the stock market. That process also was not conducive to the film sector


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