Bollywood stars are now geared up to sell dreams in an all new form of mobile games based on their films and lives. Indian game developers are rushing to sign Bollywood stars for video games viewed by some as the next big earner in an entertainment market driven by the Indan youth crazy about movies.
With the fate of a movies getting more and more unpredictable at the box office, film makers today rely more on earnings that come from sources other than the sale of the movie proper. Infact, a recent study conducted by an Indian industry body and consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that only 40% of a Bollywood film’s earnings come from the box office, the rest coming from music, DVD and mobile phone ring-tone sales.
In such a scenario, it is expected the nascent industry of Bollywood related mobile game downloads would make a major contribution to non-box office earnings.
In 2006, about two dozen Bollywood films were accompanied by video games such as “Don” -- modelled on a movie of the same name about an ultracool gangster played by superstar Shahrukh Khan -- compared with just three in the year 2005.Many more Bollywood films are expected to tie up with gaming companies in 2007.
“The Indian market is poised for a gaming explosion,” said Rajesh Sawhney, head of Reliance Entertainment, a division of India’s biggest business house, which launched a gaming company called Zapak in November.
Gaming based on Bollywood films and Bollywood personalities is already estimated to be worth around Rs100 million, with companies planning to invest heavily in the sector over the next few years.
It therefore comes as no surprise that when it came to choosing a brand ambassador, Reliance Entertainment’s Zapak picked Bollywood action hero Salman Khan.Several games will star the muscular Khan, who promised at the launch to help develop “wacky” concepts to keep his fans happy.Siren Sameera Reddy, also known as Bollywood’s J. Lo and famous more for her shimmying than her acting, is a sword-wielding streetfighter in a game developed by Jump and named after her.
Even 64-year-old movie legend Amitabh Bachchan has a game based on his film “Baabul” about widow remarriage. Anywhere else his age and the subject matter would be a no-no for a videogame concept -- but not in Bollywood-crazy India.
“We are forever looking for new games and the best way to find new games is Bollywood films,” said Neeraj Roy, head of the Hungama Mobile portal.Many Bollywood video games are designed for mobile phones, not surprising in a country where cellphones, with more than 100 million subscribers, outnumber personal computers by more than ten to one.
Although the company behind the Bachchan game, leading mobile portal mauj.com, is charging Rs50 for the game download, many others are free for the moment.The games also work as a marketing tool for films, at little cost to producers, with game developers paying for the rights to develop and promote games based on particular movies.“As many new films are made, there are new games on them. So it is a win-win situation for us, the Bollywood companies and gamers at large,” said Hungama Mobile’s Roy.