India: Challenges And Opportunities In The Indian Film Industry

Last Updated: 11 June 2019
Article by Bharat Vasani and Drishti Das

The media and entertainment industry in India enjoyed a stellar performance in 2018, with the film segment expanding by 12.2% to reach an annual revenue of INR 174.5 billion. Of this amount, the domestic film revenues crossed INR 100 billion with Net Box Office Collections for Hindi films at INR 32.5 billion – the highest ever.

The number of Hollywood films released in India fell from 105 in 2017 to 98 in 2018. Hollywood films (consolidated with Indian language dubbed versions) reached Net Box Office Collections of INR 9.21 billion. Thirteen Hindi films reached the INR 100 crore mark in 2018, the highest number the industry has ever seen. Multiplexes added to the total screen count to reach 9,601; however, the number of single screens declined.1

A major reason for this exponential growth is digitisation and the infusion of over-the-top (OTT) platforms (applications and services that are accessible over the internet and ride-on operator networks offering internet access services), and overseas theatricals as revenue earners in the industry.

Specifically, the digital revolution has created a tectonic shift in content consumption in India. In keeping with the global digitisation trend, OTT platforms invested heavily in acquiring exclusive rights to cinematographic films, which in doing so, pioneered a digital-only film market in India in 2018.2 OTT platforms, such as Netflix, are presently not regulated by any precise regulatory framework, primarily due to the nature of OTT platforms, which cannot be attributed to the jurisdiction of the existing regulatory structures, such as under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1985 or the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has also stated that it does not have the power to censor any content online and that they are "not pursuing the creation of a regulatory framework" that would allow them to take on such powers. 3 As a result, OTT players and digital platforms are able to capitalise on this creative freedom, and offer premium, largely uncensored content, targeted specifically to the preferences of particular demographics. Similarly, viewers are free to choose what they would like to watch in terms of content, at any given time. In this era where convenience is key, this freedom of choice coupled with the availability of a wide range of online content, has contributed to the higher viewing figures for digital films.

Indeed, there is a large shift in consumer behaviour from mass produced content to specific content defined to audience segments, particularly in the film industry. In the past two years, the story and screenplay of the film has played a significant role in marketing the film to wider audiences, in addition to addressing important social causes. For example, films such as Lipstick Under My Burkha, Stree, Badhaai Ho, and My Dear Zindagi not only featured a stellar cast, but also imbued fresh and powerful content that kick-started conversations around issues of contemporary relevance. The heightened sophistication of movie-goers, along with the penetration of the market with technological advancements such as smartphones and high-speed internet, has given way to the changing preferences of the Indian audience in terms of content. So much so, that in 2019, a movie like Uri – The Surgical Strike was able to reach the INR 100 crore mark within two weeks of its release in January.4 This changing trend in viewer preferences in filmed entertainment has been a driver for more innovative thinking in terms of content and contemporary issues, expenditure and execution, backed by digital connectivity helping such movies reach a larger audience.

Another stark contrast to the traditional modes of filmmaking in recent years is focused on expenditure and execution of ideas to produce the finished content. Historically, films in India were released by large production companies, with an enormous budget and starring the crème-de-la-crème of the acting pool.

However, in the recent times, the trend has shifted to releasing movies with a small budget (approx. INR 20 crores), with fresh and hard-hitting content and without an ensemble star cast. In fact, of the 13 movies that hit the INR 100 crore mark in 2018, five were small-budget movies, in contrast to the single small budget film which hit this mark in 2016.

According to industry reports, the contribution of big star cast movies to the box office collections of the top-25 movies dropped to 23% in 2018, compared with 50% in 2015.5 Once again, smaller budgets and a smaller cast allows filmmakers to take creative liberties with the content and premise of the films, as well as introduce fresh talent in the market. In addition to boosting the industry's growth, such an approach also takes in the dynamics of society and consumer sophistication.

Further, the trend in the industry has been moving in favour of private and independent producers, from a predominantly production-house dominated industry, which has put content-centric parallel or independent cinema on a par with commercial cinema. The beginnings of this shift may be traced back to Khosla Ka Ghosla, which despite a small budget and lack of a star cast, save for Anupam Kher, was amongst the top profitable 50 best movies of 100 years of Indian Cinema named by Forbes Magazine. Since then, films such as Wednesday, Vicky Donor and Lunch Box, have also played with interesting content without an ensemble cast.

In an independent producer's film, the budgets tend to be smaller, with the scripts being locked in forthwith, and the production of the film requiring a shorter period. This implies that the industry is able to produce more films per year, driving up the industry's profitability.6 The fame of the Indian independent film industry has garnered appreciation worldwide, and the US-based non-profit arts organisation, Film Independent has identified the Indian film industry as a promising space to identify filmmakers and projects, and build creative partnerships and provide technical know-how and guidance to such filmmakers.7

While the film industry has grown manifold in India, it is still riddled with the plague of piracy, especially in this digital age. In order to combat the same, the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (Bill) was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on February 12, 2019 to amend the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (Act). It will hopefully receive Parliamentary assent in due course.

The Government took into account the losses faced by the film industry due to rampant increase in piracy and, in particular, the release on the internet of pirated versions of the films, which in turn causes loss to the Government Exchequer. The proposed Section 6AA prohibits a person from using an audio-visual recording device in a place to knowingly make or transmit a copy of a film or a part thereof, without written authorisation from the producer of the film. The provision also makes illegal the attempt and abetment of the abovementioned actions.

This new provision will act as a deterrent to all from unauthorised copying of any part of a film, especially in theatres. Section 7(1A) proposes that the contravention of Section 6AA is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with a fine that may extend to INR 10,00,000, or both.

The Indian film industry has undergone a major change from the producer of masala entertainment to the mouthpiece of social commentary it is today. From adopting new technologies and starting conversations around various issues of vital societal importance, the Indian film industry has reached new heights.

However, that is not to say that the industry is completely devoid of challenges. From addressing instances of sexual harassment unveiled through the Indian #MeToo movement, following the same #MeToo movement in Hollywood, to building an effective anti-piracy law enforcement mechanism, the industry must work with all stakeholders including legal authorities to take the Indian film industry to greater heights.


1 Ernst and Young for FICCI Frames, E&Y Report: A Billion Screens of Opportunity, at pp. 76-80.

2 Id.

3 Aroon Deep, I&B Ministry: We Are Not Considering Censorship of Hotstar and Netflix, December 13, 2016, available at

4 ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’ Powers Through, Joins Rs 100-Crore Club, Economic Times, (January 22, 2019), available at

5 Supra note 1.

6 SavitaRaaj Hiremath, Changing Phase Of Indian Cinema From Commercial To Content Driven Movies, BusinessWorld, (March 31, 2019) available at

7 Namrata Joshi, 'Indian and American filmmakers will have lots to share' The Hindu, (March 15, 2019), available at

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions