Milan: Supermodel-turned-Bollywood heart-throb Bipasha Basu will soon appear on mobile phones across India—the world’s fastest growing cellular phone market and also one of the biggest—in a game where the actor leaps around the screen as an expert personal watercraft rider.
The game is testimony to the growing relationship the Indian movie industry and its stars have with cellphone operators.
Basu’s game, “Bipasha Basu Jet Ski Champ,” is made by Jump Games, which has offices in Mumbai, Pune and Stockholm, Sweden. Jump Games will also feature the actor in a bowling game and a science fiction game. “Through these games, my fans will get to see the athletic, adventurous and skilful side of me,” Basu said in a statement.
The terms of the deal were not announced but it raises an obvious question: Why is so little Hollywood content available on cellphones? More important, how long will it be before we can have the thrill of playing the Brad Pitt or Gwyneth Paltrow Jet Ski game?
Hollywood is a multibillion-dollar industry, but there are many companies in the American movie industry’s value chain and that makes the issue of rights complicated, said Nick Lane, an independent consultant specializing in the mobile phone industry. “With Bollywood, the main difference in getting the content on to the mobile phone is that the whole process is a lot smoother,” he said. The mobile entertainment market in India will expand 70% this year to $290 million (Rs1,206 crore), according to estimates from Informa Telecoms & Media, a London-based consultancy. Of this year’s total, about 60%, or $180 million, will be attributable to content derived from Bollywood films, Lane added.
In February, Bollywood’s first movie specifically made for cellphones was screened. Hollywood has shown it is willing to learn from Bollywood. Several studios, including Warner Brothers, are developing Bollywood movies and industry executives have said the same might happen with mobile phone content. Notably, 20th Century Fox, which released short clips connected to the film Borat, made ringtones and wallpaper related to The Simpsons Movie available just as the film hit theatres last month. That has made The Simpsons Movie a test case, Lane said. “Hollywood has been loath to make the initial investment that it needs to for mobile entertainment to be a success,” Lane said. “You can’t just take extracts of a movie and put it on the phone. You have to tailor the content.”