Disney Enters Bollywood with Yash Raj Films

Disney will team up with Yash Raj Films to make Disney-branded cartoon films with voices of Bollywood stars, according to today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

The two companies have set a modest initial target – at least one animation film per year.

The first movie will feature voices of Bollywood hero Saif Ali Khan and actress Kareena Kapoor.

Disney considers India (along with China, Russia, Latin America and South Korea) as a strategic high-growth market overseas.

The entertainment conglomerate has failed to to make significant headway in the Indian movie segment as it has to contend with a strong rival in the Bollywood machine.

According to the WSJ story:

In India, the stakes for Disney are huge: The Indian population under 14 years old is bigger than the entire U.S. population, and household incomes are rising fast. But for years, Disney simply sold its U.S. movies and television shows to local distributors and broadcasters. Its movies, in particular, gained little traction in the market — a problem also faced by other U.S. studios because of the strong Indian film industry.

The WSJ story said Disney would release its first animation film in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil.

Disney also intends making live-action movies aimed at the market in South India, where Hindi language films are not as popular as in other parts of the country.

As for Disney’s partner Yash Raj Films, the Indian movie company’s last two films Ta Ra Rum Pum and Kabul Express were duds.

Ta Ra Rum Pum was egregiously bad with an sophomoric plot of a race car driver (Saif Ali Khan) and his family in New York.

Besides movies, Disney’s interests in India include TV shows, stationery stores, jeans and the Princess line of toys.

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