India's Motion Picture Industry

The Indian Journal of Economics (Vol. 52, Page 142)

16 Pages Posted: 15 May 2016

See all articles by Martin E. Gold

Martin E. Gold

Sidley Austin LLP; Columbia University - Law School; Columbia University - Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Date Written: October 1971


India, at the time of publication, was the second largest producer of full length (feature) films in the world. How did a less developed country like India reach so high a rank in an industry that is relatively modern and somewhat technologically sophisticated?

In this paper the author argues that the film industry in India is not the result of comparative advantage or protective tariffs. Rather this results first of all from the unusually high demand in India for films. The relatively negative attitude toward social gatherings, clubs, drinking alcoholic beverages, sports, and sexual activity creates a void that the film industry fills. And there is a huge population.

And some relatively unique protective mechanisms are at work: India's culture includes a unique tastes in film. Foreign producers have not been able to reach the Indian market because they are not as able to produce films that Indians enjoy. A key factor is language. Only films produced in the major Indian languages, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, etc. tend to be watched. There is little capacity for subtitles and not much tolerance of dubbing (of course this is changing over time). Indian films require substantial amounts on Indian style song and dance which is difficult for foreigners to replicate or compete in. And then there is also the factor of censorship.

Keywords: comparative advantage, cultural barriers, linkages, language barriers

Suggested Citation

Gold, Martin E., India's Motion Picture Industry (October 1971). The Indian Journal of Economics (Vol. 52, Page 142), Available at SSRN:

Martin E. Gold (Contact Author)

Sidley Austin LLP ( email )

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Columbia University - Law School ( email )

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Columbia University - Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

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United States

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