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The Bollywood Formula


If A equals success, then the Formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play and Z keeping your mouth shut! – Albert Einstein

Recently the IIFA  (The International Indian Film Academy ) Awards’ North American Premiere was hosted in Toronto,  Canada.  Indian cinema has frequently been touted as  superficial song and dance musicals with stereotyped one dimensional characters without original storylines.

However, in  recent times , the world’s attention has been drawn to Indian cinema of the finest calibre with multidimensional characters with nuanced performances in very original storylines rooted in the mystique and misery that is part of the authentic make up of India’s culture.

Slumdog Millionaire was one such thumping success and won several coveted Oscar awards and launched many international careers in its wake. Other noteworthy films have been Devdas , Lagaan and Mother India.

But  what do Bollywood formula films have to do with business?

Ordinary people come to Bollywood with stars in their eyes hoping to be a part of the glamour and fame just like many small business owners do when  launching their businesses .

However, often those businesses don’t get launched into orbit on a path to success but instead get lost in space somewhere between the dream and reality.

Here are some tips to follow , based on the Bollywood film formula:

1. The biggest Bollywood hits are based on tried and tested story lines- look alike twins separated at birth through some tragic dramatic circummstances, grow up on opposite sides of the law or moral spectrum, then fate intervenes to make their paths cross – and many songs and romantic mix ups later they come to face off in an equally dramatic encounter and then square off with family reconciliations and the inevitable happy ending.

The secret of this formula working is that the audience wants to maintain some sort of predictability in their escape from their urban reality, which is often not in their control. To cheat them out of a happy ending is to make them suffer more. They don’t mind the  stale story – so long as the entertainment factor is still there.

Lesson:  Give the market what it wants, not what you want, no matter how silly it may seem

2. The same story line is served up with different casting of actors, different songs and different settings/locales.

Lesson : The formula works but change it up sufficiently to make it appear different. Even better, make it so that even if it is completely different, you retain some elements of familiarity.

Too much newness too soon could be too difficult to handle for a market that is used to expecting the familiar types of products and services. Introduce the new elements in stages, so they have time to adjust.

3.  Low key low energy performances , although Oscar Worthy, may get rave reviews from the critics but will not appeal to the masses. And ultimately a film’s success thrives on mass appeal.

Lesson: High energy, high enthusiasm gets attention and avid followers. But under promise in the preview and over deliver in the performance.

At the end of the day, enjoying the business is about having fun with it . If not, you are in the wrong business. And there will be no happy endings for your business bottomline and survival !

How Bollywood is your business?

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Categories : Business

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