Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - Bollywood Bust! Industrial Crisis and Web-Series in India

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Chinar, First Floor

These are trying times for the Bollywood industry in Mumbai. Despite the promotional blitzkrieg that routinely surrounds their release, a majority of films are failing to recover costs at the box office, with distributors and exhibitors shouldering much of the financial losses. Even more sobering is the fact that gigantic Hollywood studios that had come into Bollywood with great fanfare have either decided to scale back productions or shut down operations altogether. Within this atmosphere of industrial crisis, local production houses are scrambling to rethink their strategies for surviving this period of transition and transformation. Here, the concept of web-series has emerged as one kind of response in a moment of flux and uncertainty.


This paper argues that Bollywood’s current relationship with the Internet is the most visible indication of an industry desperately trying to find traction in a rapidly changing media market. Many of Bollywood’s major studios — including Yash Raj Films and Balaji Telefilms — are now producing dozens of web-series alongside films, to reach out to a wider viewership. An important part of this ferment is the film industry’s fraught relationship with an increasingly authoritarian state: the escalating belligerence of censorship in India has meant that filmmakers are routinely locked into extensive battles with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The Internet, on the other hand, is not censored, which is also attracting specific genres, formats, and audiences to these series. This paper focuses on the discursive projection of potential audiences, as a notion of an individual, “atomized” spectator gathers momentum.

Meheli Sen

Rutgers University, United States

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