Kishore Lulla is on a mission to bring Bollywood to one of its most fervent audiences, the Arab world. Mr Lulla, the group executive chairman of the Indian film distributor Eros International, is planning to build platforms on which the magic of Bollywood can be beamed to television, computers and mobile phones. And the investment by Abu Dhabi in developing its media industry may play a part in that, he said yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, where he was a co-chair.
"With what Abu Dhabi is offering with production facilities and also the tax incentives, where a worldwide media company can come and have a base here - that's definitely luring for companies like us to set up and do business here," Mr Lulla said. "We have been in talks and if we can do some good deal, why not? We're quite open for business." Bollywood was introduced to the GCC by South Asian expatriates, but Mr Lulla said its popularity had widely spread to an Arab audience.
"If you look at the cultures, the Arab culture and the Indian culture, they are quite similar in many manners," he said. "The local population also identifies themselves with Bollywood movies, because of the emotions, the music, the family values." Eros has a catalogue of 2,000 films and 5,000 music videos. About half of the company's earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation comes from sales outside of India.
Eros, founded by Mr Lulla's father 30 years ago to distribute Indian videos around the world, had a turnover last year of US$156 million (Dh573m), more than double its revenue of $66m just two years before. Much of that growth, he said, was due to its efforts to expand access of its films globally. The London-based company announced a partnership last month with Time Warner for the launch of Bollywood Hits on Demand, a subscription service for the cable-TV operator's clients in the New York City region.
The Middle East is also attractive for Eros because of its huge youth population, a target demographic for the entertainment company. Mr Lulla said Eros was planning to dub Eros's library into Arabic in the next five years. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org