Marking a significant milestone in its illustrious history, The Hollywood Reporter is set to make its long-awaited debut in the Indian market. With a pioneering digital-first approach complemented by its print publication, The Hollywood Reporter’s arrival heralds a new era of comprehensive coverage, not only of Hollywood but also of the vibrant tapestry of Indian cinema.
Showcasing diversity in India’s film landscape, including Bollywood, South Indian cinema, and beyond, the publication is poised to provide in-depth analysis, exclusive interviews, and unparalleled insights into the dynamic world of entertainment.
As audiences across the nation eagerly anticipate this venture, The Hollywood Reporter’s commitment to spotlighting Indian cinema underscores its dedication and appreciation for the art of filmmaking.
Republic spoke to Avarna Jain, Chairperson, RPSG Lifestyle Media to know more about this endeavour.
Here are some excerpts:
Q: What prompted the Hollywood Reporter to enter the Indian market?
Ans. In India today, there is a wealth of this huge repertoire of Indian entertainment and the industry to some extent is fragmented. You have Bollywood, you have something in the South, Tamil, Telugu, Bhojpuri, Bengali, Marathi, and many others that I may not be naming right now. This is not just limited to cinema or films, it’s OTT, it’s music, it’s all kinds of entertainment and there is no real unifying voice which covers the Indian entertainment industry as a whole. Even though this is going to be called The Hollywood Reporter, we also know that Hollywood is the genesis of all the different woods across the world. So, whether it is Bollywood, Lollywood or Tollywood, Hollywood is the genesis of that. So, we hope that The Hollywood Reporter India or THR India will create this unifying voice for the Indian entertainment industry.
Q: Will this become a global platform where all the entertainment industries will come together under one roof?
Ans: Absolutely. The Indian entertainment industry is the largest in the world and Hollywood, as we know it, is probably the oldest in the world. So, it’s only fair that the oldest industry or the oldest publication celebrates the largest industry in the world.
Q: Now that The Hollywood Reporter is entering the Indian market, what would you say is the USP of the Hollywood Reporter India?
Ans: The USP of The Hollywood Reporter India would be the fact that it will work alongside filmmakers, producers, actors, and also present content for its consumers. So, it is not just by the industry, for the industry, but it is also something that will keep the users or the consumers entertained as we go along. The Hollywood Reporter will celebrate and support the Indian entertainment industry while providing very credible and in-depth information about the industry.
Q: How does The Hollywood Reporter plan to differentiate itself from the existing publications in the Indian entertainment industry?
Ans: If you look at the existing publications in the Indian entertainment industry, most of them are not catering solely to cinema as a whole in India, but mainly to Bollywood. If you look at the Indian entertainment industry or even at the Oscars, how does anyone decide who is more important? Is it Amitabh Bachchan? Is it Lata Mangeshkar? Is it SS Rajamouli? Who is it? Does popularity define that? Do collections define it? What defines it? So, we hope that The Hollywood Reporter will create this sort of awareness that the Indian entertainment industry is much larger than it is currently perceived to be. There is much more to it and there are more nuances, there are more elements and there are more parts. When you see these big screen actors coming on OTT and vice versa, you realise that these divides are actually dissolving and it’s time for a publication to enter the industry and create a voice for this unified industry.
Q: Was your decision to enter the Indian market prompted on the basis of how Hollywood cinema has influenced Indian audiences?
Ans: Hollywood is a hugely successful film industry. It entertains the world, including India. The Indian film industry, however, today is actually larger than Hollywood. It has an identity that is so unique that even we as the Indian audience are not able to understand it fully and grasp the extent of it. We have blockbusters like Rocky and Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, RRR or The Delhi Crime and at the same time, you have a Kyunki Saas (Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi) that has run for 20 years plus or Anupamaa that is topping the rankings at this point. You have all kinds of entertainment coming through in the Indian industry, which makes it so much larger, vast and important for people outside of India to understand. So yes, Hollywood does influence the way we consume entertainment to some extent, but I think the reverse is happening as well. I think the way we consume entertainment in India is influencing the way it’s consumed across the world.
Q: Like you said, there is more consumption of Indian content abroad than there was before. Is it because of easy access and availability on OTT? How do you perceive this? Do you agree with that?
Ans: 100%. I think, today audiences in India itself are watching content from across the globe, whether it’s a Korean show or a Turkish show or an American soap. It is just about great content, great entertainment that serves the need of the hour for that particular consumer. So, if I want an outright comedy, it could be something from the American banks, if I want drama it could be a Korean drama, so it doesn’t really matter where I’m consuming it from.
Q: Can you outline the editorial strategy of the Indian edition of The Hollywood Reporter or share the specific areas that you are going to focus on or themes that you would want to explore?
Ans: The audiences that consume this kind of media today have changed drastically over the last few decades. As I mentioned earlier, we’re consuming content from different languages in different formats. We’re consuming content that’s not even from our own country, it’s from outside of our country. Within India itself, movies from different regions now are seeing huge theatrical releases, which may not have been as common in the past or maybe may not have been as commonly reported in the past, even if they did happen. South Indian cinema is being celebrated in the North, Punjabi music is groovy in the South, and there’s curiosity about movies from Bengal. There’s something about Marathi cinema that’s suddenly coming into the fall, something from the Northeast that’s growing. So, the THR India strategy is very clear. It will look at the entertainment industry as a whole. It will celebrate whether it is a Bollywood blockbuster, whether it is Bhojpuri cinema, a Malayalam story or something on OTT, it will celebrate the entertainment industry as a whole.
Q: In what format and in what ways can the Indian audience or the Indian readers access content from The Hollywood Reporter India?
Ans: At RPSG Lifestyle Media, all our projects are going to be digital-first and The Hollywood Reporter will be no different. However, we will have a monthly print edition. But, the current way to communicate with our consumers will be via digital media, using social as an important distribution platform.
THR India will have a very active presence across all these platforms, specifically digital. You will have content to read, to watch, and to experience. Also, AI is developing very rapidly every day, and we are watching it very closely, but we are committed to providing very high-quality content to our readers, irrespective of the platform that they choose to consume it on.
Q: Since you mentioned AI, how do you envision the future relationship between Hollywood and Indian cinema evolving considering the ongoing changes in technology and audience behaviour?
Ans: The Indian entertainment industry is growing so exponentially. It’s become so influential in many ways, whether you look at international award shows, you look at the Oscars, or the Grammys, suddenly Indian presence is being felt in a very significant manner. So, the collaboration between international cinema, whether it is Hollywood or anything else, and Indian cinema will only increase as we go along. Not just because Indian presence is increasing across the world, but also because of the dissolution of language borders and how consumption patterns are changing. So, we will see growing collaboration as we go along.
Q: When you talk about collaborations, give us an insight into what kind of collaborations you are talking about.
Ans: As you have seen in the past, there have been some crossovers where Hollywood personalities have come and performed in Indian cinema, or a few Indian stalwarts have gone and performed in Hollywood cinema. I think this is going to continue and grow and we will probably see a more cohesive manner in which these collaborations will take place.
Q: Will there be a localisation of content where Indian celebrities will be prominently featured and vice versa?
Ans: It’s always been like that. If you look back at Indian cinema, you will always see, there will be somebody from the Hollywood industry that has featured or vice versa. So it’s not something new. It’s probably just going to increase because language borders are reducing, they’re dissolving. So, consumption will happen across different countries and not be limited just to your own geographical location.
Q: What role do you envision The Hollywood Reporter India playing in shaping the discourse around Indian and global entertainment in the Indian market?
Ans: THR India will be the first real unified voice of the Indian entertainment industry. It will present to audiences their favourite films and stars from across all of India as equals. The size of the industry won’t matter but it will be the talent and the connection it forms with the audiences that will matter. So, whether a star hails from the South, North, East or West of India, it will not matter.
To the world, THR India will provide a showcase of the variety, the vastness, and the depth of Indian cinema and the Indian entertainment industry. It will show the world why the largest entertainment industry in the world deserves to be celebrated.
Q: The Hollywood Reporter has been a prominent entertainment publication that has dominated the industry. Now, when you enter the Indian market, what unique challenges are you anticipating in terms of how the content is going to be different in terms of the already established players?
Ans: The existing players to some extent cover only certain segments of the entertainment industry. Some of the publications that exist will only cover Bollywood. There are other publications in regional languages that only cover those regional languages. However, what we intend to do is create something that has a more overarching impact that covers the industry as a whole versus as a fragmented industry that does not look at entertainment as a whole. So, today when I’m saying the Indian consumer is viewing a Korean drama, they’re not really viewing it in English or Hindi or their regional language, they are viewing it in Korean, but it is entertaining them just as much as any other entertainment show would. So, with this whole thing dissolving, I think it’s very important for us to understand that the Indian consumer is changing. And because of that, The Hollywood Reporter India will play a very important role in providing this unified voice for the Indian entertainment industry.
Q: Are there any challenges or opportunities that arise from the growing intersection between Hollywood and Indian cinema, particularly in terms of content creation and content consumption?
Ans: I don’t think there are challenges, I think there will be many more opportunities that will come our way. The collaboration that is possible will actually create huge opportunities, which may not have existed in the past. Whether it was because of newer channels of communication not existing or travel not being as easy, or consumption without any glitches. So, I think just the scope of collaboration increases so much and that makes the opportunities infinite.
Q: How do you think moving forward Indian cinema is going to influence the world of global entertainment?
Ans: With the Indian population being so large and with the Indian entertainment industry being the largest in the world, it is natural that Indian entertainment will influence the world in many ways. But whether Indian cinema will influence the nuances of Indian culture, developments in AI or in video effects is to be seen. But, there is no doubt that the Indian entertainment industry will and is influencing the global entertainment market.
There is a definite shift in the way the world is consuming Indian content, and it is visible simply because of a simple acceptance of Indians and Indian culture abroad or internationally. If you look 20, 30, 40 years ago, the way Indians were perceived is very different from the way an Indian is perceived today. The way Indian culture was perceived is very different from the way Indian culture is perceived today. The Indian entertainment industry is nothing but a reflection of India today, a reflection of what Indian society holds as its place in the world today. India is claiming its rightful place in the global entertainment industry just the way it is claiming its place in the global scenario today.
Q: A lot of Indians are representing us on global platforms. How do you feel when you hear of these achievements such as the recent Grammy wins of Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain and Rakesh Chaurasia among others?
Ans: It’s a very proud moment for every Indian when you see Indians claiming their rightful position across the globe, whether it is at the Oscars, the Grammys or at the Olympics. It doesn’t matter where we are, but we are claiming our rightful position in the world and it’s high time the world takes notice of it.
Q: Lastly, what are your long-term goals and expectations from The Hollywood Reporter’s presence in the Indian market?
Ans: The Indian entertainment industry, whether it’s Bollywood, Hollywood, Lollywood, or OTT, currently lacks an authoritative voice, a journal or a publication that gives in-depth knowledge, researched data, and at the same time gives information about the industry to its target audience. The Hollywood Reporter will actually give you slightly more nuanced information about every aspect of the entertainment industry.