Indian Film Industry

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Kevin Kelly:

"Like Nigeria, India has a similar mixture of piracy and legitimacy in its film industry. Bollywood and mafia money are famously intertwined. In terms of money laundering, tax-avoidance, and covert money flows, the entire film industry is a gray market. The behind-the-scenes people making illegal copies of films also make the legal copies. And prices for legit and pirated versions are almost at parity.

So why even bother with pirated movies? Because India has had a very draconian censorship policy for official studio films. Their famous “no kissing” rule is but one example. This censorship has pushed niche films to the underground where they are served by the piracy network. If you want something independent, racy, out of the ordinary, or simply not in the mainstream, you are forced to patronize the pirates. This includes the filmmakers as well as the audience. If you produce an avant-garde film how else to get it seen? Cheap duplication on the street is the way a filmmaker will get his art out, further blurring the distinction between legit and illegal. As in Nigeria, this convergence means the purchase price of an official VCD may not be much more than a pirated version, about US$3. In effect Indian filmmakers see these low disc prices as advertising to lure the masses into cool theaters to see the latest releases on the glorious big screen. The hi-touch factor of the theaters is the reward for paying, and the pirated versions are the tax or costs for getting attention." (

More Information

  1. Nigerian Film Industry
  2. Chinese film industry also discussed by Kevin Kelly, at