Sterling Media is recognized as one of the first international communications consultancies to take Indian cinema globally. Below, Sterling Media selects its top five films that have created new perceptions and audiences for Indian cinema
India’s film industry is worth $2.2 billion, home to the world’s biggest film industry – Bollywood – alongside hugely popular regional cinemas such as in South India. However, popularity in one country can breed curiosity, parody, and misunderstanding in another, and so despite immense success in its native India, the whole wide breadth of Indian Cinema has often been reduced to the most simplistic stereotype of “Bollywood” – a niche musical genre that revolves around over-elaborate dance sequences, traditional values, and cheesy storylines.
Despite the prevalence of these stereotypes, there are companies to individuals who have endeavored to change this image by providing a new approach to raising the profile of Indian cinema and educating audiences. For the past two decades, Sterling Media, global business and communications consultancy, has been at the forefront of taking Indian cinema to global audiences through the company’s breakthrough communications campaigns. This has also been supported by a new breed of filmmakers who have pushed for more disruptive content covering a range of subjects and issues, some even taboo, which have garnered both critical and commercial acclaim.
According to Sterling Media, here are 5 films that have helped to dispel the stereotypes and change the perception of Indian Cinema.
2016’s Dangal starring Amir Khan, is a sports drama based on the true story of India’s Phogat sisters, the country’s first world-class medal-winning female wrestlers. The film is very much a character-driven drama that focuses on the relationship between a father and his daughters as he trains them to become wrestlers.
Backed by a communications strategy that promoted the themes of gender equality and family prevalent throughout the film, Dangal became India’s most successful film ever, both domestically and overseas. The relatable subject matter helped to propel it to success in both India and abroad, becoming hugely successful in China.
The Lunchbox like Dangal subverts expectations, with an endearing romantic film that eschews the vibrant conventions of other Bollywood romances in favor of a character-focused drama.
The film had a strong brand strategy, highlighting leading stars Irrfan Khan (recognizable to international audiences in Slumdog Millionaire and The Amazing Spiderman) and Nimrat Kaur (Homeland) and positioning the film as one of Indian cinema’s best offerings for that year. The film also became a festival favorite and was nominated for the best international film at the BAFTAs.
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha
Set against the backdrop of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Clean India movement to improve sanitation across India, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha tackles open defecation in India, using satirical humor, songs and more to appeal to audiences and spread the message behind the film.
Star Akshay Kumar took on a very vocal approach, within the communication strategy, and even built toilets himself to raise awareness of the issue of open defecation, with the film playing a key role. The issue of open defecation also helped the global communications campaign to reach around the world. As a result, audiences worldwide saw that Toilet: Ek Prem Katha was more than a typical Indian film – it had a key role to play in a significant health Campaign.
Bahubaali 1 and 2
Indian cinema can also deliver CGI spectacles as shown in S.S. Rajamouli’s mythological magnum opus Bahubaali, India’s most expensive film franchise. Rajamouli stayed true to audience expectations for lavish songs, dances, action sequences whilst picking the most potent weapon for its narrative, mythology, and turning it into a war spectacle.
About Sterling Media:
Sterling Media, is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary global business and communications consultancy. The company represents corporates, companies, consumer brands, charities, celebrities, countries, governments, and global thought leaders.